Belmont Bruins: 26-5, 16-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference
Head coach: Rick Byrd (20th season)
Players to watch: Dylan Windler (21.4 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 43.0 3FG%); Kevin McClain (16.3 PPG, 4.1 APG, 3.5 RPG); Nick Muszynski (14.9 PPG, 60.8 FG%, 2.2 BPG); Grayson Murphy (9.8 PPG, 6.6 APG, 1.7 SPG)
Season recap: Much to the delight of mid-major fans, Belmont’s at-large NCAA tournament spot made the Ohio Valley Conference a two-bid league after an impressive season featuring wins at UCLA and Lipscomb, as well as a 14-game winning streak before a loss in the Ohio Valley championship game to Ja Morant’s Murray State squad.
The Bruins rely on a balance of upperclassmen and underclassmen scoring at a torrid rate, as Belmont ranks second in the nation averaging 87.4 points per game. The senior hybrid guard/forward Dylan Windler is the Bruins’ best offensive option, as the mid-major All-American can score at all three levels and take over games. Just behind Windler is senior guard Kevin McClain, as well as the inside-out freshmen duo of Nick Muszynski and Grayson Murphy, who have proven to be excellent role players throughout their inaugural collegiate seasons.
Despite strong conference runs the past few seasons, Belmont has not made the NCAA tournament since 2015, and will be searching for its first-ever tournament victory this season.
How they make a run: The Bruins go on a hot shooting night and catch one of the top teams in the nation off-guard as they bust millions of brackets around the world.
How they falter: Belmont is overwhelmed early and often, as it bows out once again in the early rounds of the tournament.