Fresh off a 2K Classic Championship at Madison Square Garden the Friars (3-1) return to the Dunkin Donuts Center to square off against the Belmont Bruins (4-1) tonight at 7pm on FS1. Even though the Friars took the 2K Classic Championship already this game is actually the final game of the event for the Friars. While the Friars may be 9.5 point favorites in the eyes of Vegas the Belmont Bruins are no slouch. The Bruins were picked to finish first in the Ohio Valley Conference and have beaten Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee, while just falling short against Washington. The Bruins are led by senior F Amanze Egekeze (19.8 ppg 5.6 rpg) and he is someone who can score from both the perimeter and at the basket. Belmont also features junior big man Dylan Windler (16 ppg 12 rpg), who is coming off winning the OVC player of the week last week, and the nation’s leading returning assist man in guard Austin Luke. Here are the Crier’s keys for the Friars to win the game.
Defend The 3:
The Belmont Bruins shoot the three point shot at an alarming rate. So far this season the Bears have attempted 150 3-pointers which equates to 30 a game and they hit at a rate of 36%. I think this will play well into the Friars hands as they are holding opponents to a staggering 27% (24/88) clip from behind the arc this season. This is due to the fact the Friars have a lot of quick guards and long wings that disrupt teams on the perimeter.
Bullock vs. Egekeze:
The Crier is really intrigued to watch the matchup between Rodney Bullock and Amanze Egekeze, as I see them as two very similar players. Both forwards are around 6′ 8″ 220 pounds and have the ability to hurt you from deep and attacking the rim. The Friars will hope that Bullock can build off his past two games and match Egekeze’s production. The good news for the Friars is PC doesn’t need to lean on Bullock’s offense as much as Belmont will for Amanze.
In the game against Washington the Friars kept the Huskies in the game by giving up way to many offensive rebounds. This is a problem that has plagued the Friars so far this season. The Washington Huskies play similar to the way Belmont will in terms of shooting a good amount of 3s, so its important for the Friars to not give Belmont second chance possessions. Belmont isn’t a great rebounding team so the Friars should look at this as a good opportunity to fix their woes on the glass.
The Belmont Bruins have been known as a tough mid-major team and so far this year they’ve shown that in wins against Vandy and at Middle Tennesse, as well as their close defeat to Washington. While initially I was concerned Belmont could give us a lot of trouble, I think PC’s ability to defend the three should give them the victory tonight. I don’t think it will be a blow out by any means, Belmont has got players to keep the game competitive but I see the Friars winning comfortably.
Friars 75 Belmont 64