Belmont Men's Basketball 2016 NIT Tournament Capsule

Belmont Bruins
Ohio Valley Conference (20-11, 12-4)
As usual Belmont tested themselves in nonconference play. But outside of the season opener against Marquette, the Bruins failed to get a big win. They lost to Arizona State, Evansville, BYU and Valparaiso to name a few. None of those are terrible losses for a team like Belmont, but the Bruins want to prove that they can knock off the big boys; not just compete with them. In Ohio Valley play, Belmont got off to a good start, but had some tough losses down the stretch. Regardless, the Bruins won the OVC regular season title.
Big Wins: 11/13 at Marquette (83-80), 12/28 Valparaiso (85-81), 2/4 Morehead State (73-67)
Bad Losses: 12/19 at Cleveland State (65-67), 2/6 Eastern Kentucky (78-88), 3/4 vs Austin Peay (96-97)
Coach: Rick Byrd
Why They Can Surprise:
As usual, this is a Belmont team that can score in bunches and knock down plenty of three-pointers. Only a handful of teams in the country shoot more long balls than the Bruins. It starts with Craig Bradshaw. The 6-3 senior has connected on 37.4 percent of his 227 three-point attempts. That is a lot of three-pointers, but Bradshaw can attack the basket pretty effectively as well and will at least get to the free-throw line. Taylor Barnette is the other main outside shooter. He is more of a spot up shooter and does not get to the basket nearly as much as Bradshaw. Point guard Austin Luke is also a good shooter, although he is even better at dishing out the ball. Having guards who shoot is nothing out of the ordinary, but this Belmont team can stretch the defense with the shooting ability of 6-8 forward Amanze Egekeze. The sophomore is an amazingly efficient inside the arc and outside the arc. Reserve forward Nick Smith is another big guy who can knock down three-pointers.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Egekeze is big, but he spends a lot of time on the perimeter and is not much of a rebounder either. That puts a lot of pressure on 6-7, 205 pound junior Evan Bradds. Bradds averages 17.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Those are great numbers and Bradds deserves a lot of credit for providing Belmont with an interior scoring presence to open up room for the shooters and for keeping Belmont at least serviceable on the glass. The problem is that there is very little help. Mack Mercer is 6-9 and 225 pounds and has been very effective when given the opportunity. For Belmont, they need shooters on the floor and they will always be small compared to most other teams, but the key for them is getting rebounding help from the guards. Bradshaw is tough on the glass and freshman Dylan Windler has seen more minutes than expected because of his rebounding and defense, but Belmont is not going to pull off upsets if they lose out on possessions because of turnovers and rebounding unless they are knocking down even more three-pointers than usual.
Probable Starters:
Austin Luke, Sophomore, Guard, 5.9 ppg, 6.3 apg
Taylor Barnette, Junior, Guard, 10.6 ppg, 2.1 apg
Craig Bradshaw, Senior, Guard, 16.4 ppg, 3.3 apg, 4.1 rpg
Amanze Egekeze, Sophomore, Forward, 9.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Evan Bradds, Junior, Forward, 17.8 ppg, 2.1 apg, 9.4 rpg
Key Roleplayers:
Kevin McClain, Freshman, Guard, 5.4 ppg
Mack Mercer, Sophomore, Forward, 7.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Nick Smith, Junior, Forward, 6.2 ppg
Dylan Windler, Freshman, Guard, 4.4 ppg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 82.4 (13th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 78.0 (302, 11)
Field-Goal Percentage: 49.5 (6, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.9 (199, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 10.5 (5, 1)   
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.2 (102, 5)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.1 (94, 5)
Rebound Margin:  -1.0 (227, 8)
Assists Per Game:  17.2 (13, 1)
Turnovers Per Game:  14.1 (299, 11)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2015    NCAA Second Round loss to Virginia
2014    NIT     First Round win over Green Bay
2014    NIT     Second Round win over Robert Morris
2014    NIT     Regional Final loss to Clemson
2013    NCAA Second Round loss to Arizona
2012    NCAA Second Round loss to Georgetown
2011    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Wisconsin
2009    CIT    First Round win over Evansville
2009    CIT    Second Round loss to Old Dominion
2008    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Duke
2007    NCAA Round of 64 loss to Georgetown
2006    NCAA Round of 64 loss to UCLA
*all team stats through 3/6