#101 Belmont Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Belmont Bruins
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #101
Conference Rank: #1 Ohio Valley  
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Belmont didn’t miss a beat in 2019-20 as Casey Alexander took over for longtime coach Rick Byrd and led the Bruins to a 26-win season. Belmont capped off the 2019-20 season prior to the Covid-19 pandemic with a dramatic 76-75 win over Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship game. The Bruins play a fun style of basketball as they led the nation in assists per game last season with 18.3, which resulted in them averaging just under 80 points per game. The ability to share the basketball and make shots at such an efficient level will always give Belmont a chance to pull a first round upset in the NCAA Tournament.
2019-20 Record: 26-7, 15-3
Coach: Casey Alexander
Coach Record: 26-7 at Belmont, 163-127, overall
Key Departed Players:
Adam Kunkel, Guard, 16.5 ppg
Tyler Scanlon, Forward, 12.5 ppg
Michael Benkert, Guard, 4.2 ppg
Nick Hopkins, Guard, 5.6 ppg
Seth Adelsburger, Center, 2.7 ppg
Key Returning Players:
Nick Muszynski, Center, 15.3 ppg
Grayson Murphy, Junior, 9.8 ppg
Caleb Hollander, Junior, Forward, 4.3 ppg
Tate Pierson, Junior, Guard, 3.1 ppg
Ben Sheppard, Sophomore, Guard, 2.9 ppg
Mitch Listau, Sophomore, Guard, 2.8 ppg
EJ Bellinger, Sophomore, Guard, 2.2 ppg
Derek Sabin, Sophomore, Forward, DNP last season
Key New Players:
Even Brauns, Freshman, Center
Michael Shanks, Freshman, Forward
JaCobi Wood, Freshman, Guard
Frank Jacubicek, Freshman, Forward
Luke Smith, Sophomore, Guard, Transfer from University of the South
The loss of Adam Kunkel is going to be a critical issue to get addressed right away once practice gets started. Kunkel was the leading scorer for the Bruins as he averaged 16.5 points per game and will be moving on to play for Xavier. Nick Muszynski returns and he will be looking to build upon his 15.3 points per game and 6.4 rebounds that he put up last season as the starting center. Grayson Murphy will need to step up his production in the backcourt with the departure of Kunkel. Murphy shot 52.2 percent from the floor and did a nice job rebounding the basketball as he collected 7.4 rebounds per contest during the 2019-20 season. Belmont will need some time in the early stages of the season to get rolling with just two returning starters. However, the culture of the program should be strong enough to allow for the Bruins to end up in position to win another Ohio Valley conference championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament next spring.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.6 (14th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.9 (138, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.5 (15, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.6 (98, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.7 (16, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.2 (75, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.3 (162, 4)
Rebound Margin: 0.7 (161, 5)
Assists Per Game: 18.3 (1, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (67, 1)