The Byrd Cage

Belmont vs. Ohio

In Game Posts on February 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

Well, here we are. It’s BracketBuster time. I think I’m supposed to be excited about this thing but to be honest – its hard –  and for a number of reasons. The first is obvious and on record: we wanted Creighton.  This is no knock on Ohio but we wanted to throw the best team available into the Curb so we could really see what the Bruins were made of.

The second reason is that Ohio is really good. Like sweet 16 good. The Mont has played many games in the national spotlight and have a penchant for landing results in the bad-to-mixed range.

This is definitely not helped by the fact that Ian Clark, one of the best 3pt shooters in the NCAA and the backbone of the Bruins has gone 2 – 15 from 3 ball land over the past 2 games. I really hope this is not Ian regressing to human being levels.

That’s also not to mention that Blake seems to still not be 100% healthy, JJ aka ‘The Road Warrior’ hasn’t consistently shot well at home, and Kerron is increasingly sharing time with . . . Reece Chamberlain? Here’s to hoping the spotlight kicks everyone into gear this time around.

While the Ohio matchup isn’t quite the level of prime time we had hoped for, one Byrdcage contributor pointed out earlier this week that the bracket buster still bears some noteworthy significance for Belmont’s post season aspirations. A win against the Bobcats would put Belmont at 7-3 vs Top 100 RPI teams this season. Surprisingly, several pundits are still tossing our name around in the at-large bid conversation and a victory here would really strengthen their argument.

On paper these Ohio and Belmont teams are highly comparable with the glaring difference being that Ohio is number one in the country in assists. Hard to say what this means for The Mont who plays some pretty mean defense.

I suppose only Kerron . . . err . . . I mean TIME will tell.

But seriously, a key to this game is Belmont being able to clog up point guard DJ Cooper’s passing lanes(who, by the way is #19 ALL TIME IN DIVISION ONE HISTORY in assists . . .). The guy has his own ‘file’ on Ohio’s website complete with Dicky Vitale endorsement.

So, yeah look out for him.

Here’s how the rest of the Ohio Starters look:

No Ed Daniels or Robert Covingtons here but another player to lookout for is 6-9 forward Ivo Baltic who comes off the bench, scores efficiently and tears up the boards. With Ohio’s depth and team-build I’m looking for this to be one of the more up tempo games of the season for the Bruins who actually play quite well when things get quick.

But for all my overly-anxious foreboding I will say this, the big factor that the Bruins have going for them is that this game is at home. We don’t get many top 100 RPI non-conference opponents strolling through the Curb but when we do, we bring the pain. MTSU(37), EKU(84), TSU(96) and SDSU(154 when they entered the Curb and 95 when they left . . . ) all came to the Curb this season touting some impressive teams but the boys in Blue and Red won every game by a combined margin of 61 pts.  In short – playing at home is a huge advantage for the Bruins on Saturday.

Also of note – Ian is 17pts away from being Belmont’s all-time leading scorer. This could totally happen this weekend.

Now, I know this season’s team is not Rick’s dream team but the fanbase in Nashville including us Byrd Cagers, really would like to see Rick figure out how to get his guys to win more big time games on the national stage. And this is about as good of an opportunity as he’ll get.

This is also where we come in. The fans in Nashville have to show up, get loud, and wear red. Not necessarily in that order but whatever. Come to the game and get loud.

I’m talking ‘I’m-going-to-embarrass-myself-loud’ or ‘everyone-around-me-is-going-to-hate-me-loud’ even: ‘I-might-get-stabbed-on-the-way-out-loud’.

But don’t do it for me. Do it for our overachieving 2012-2013 Bruins. Some of the smartest cats on the D1 hardwood who have really shown some grit this year when few were expecting much of anything.

This is is our last major shot of the season to show the nation that The Mont is the real deal and not a cute  team for network sports writers to fill up blogspace with.

Will it be tough for the Bruins to win this game?

Yes.

Can they do it?

Absolutely.

Oh yeah and Rick wants you there so there’s that:

-Kyle

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  1. I will be there, full of pork and spirit.

  2. have we peaked too soon? although the beat down from tuesday would suggest otherwise… two tough losses in the last couple weeks and Ian being ice cold makes me a little more than nervous…

  3. *UPDATE* An urgent message from The Byrd Man

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