When Eastern Kentucky head coach Jeff Neubauer proclaimed last Saturday that his Colonels were the only team that could beat Belmont in the OVC Tournament, the comment raised a few eyebrows.
None should have been raised more that Morehead State’s. Just one week ago, Morehead State led most of the way against the visiting Bruins, before letting the game slip through their fingers. Their loss was much closer than that of EKU’s. They held Belmont to their lowest scoring night in Ohio Valley conference play.
If anyone appears to match up well against Belmont, it’s not Eastern Kentucky.
It’s their biggest rival.
But if Morehead State wants to become the first team in the conference to knock off the Bruins, they’re going to have to do it in Nashville, where the Bruins are a perfect 8-0 on the year.
Belmont as of late is starting to turn some heads outside the conference. A top-15 RPI, no losses outside the RPI top 125, and an 8-game winning streak that includes three wins over top-100 RPI teams (EKU twice, and Tennessee State) is getting some sportswriters attention, but none that are willing to give the Bruins an AP top 25 vote. As they often were in the Atlantic Sun, Belmont continues to fly under the national radar, but that’s not the case in the conference.
Belmont is also coming off their best shooting night in years, shooting a blazing 67% from the field in their win over Eastern Kentucky.
Bruins guard Ian Clark continues to put up OVC player of the year like numbers, scoring at least twenty points while shooting better than 50% from the floor in six straight games. The senior is shooting 57% from the field in OVC play, outstanding numbers considering that Clark is just 6’3″, and leads Belmont in three-point attempts.
Morehead State continues their growth under first year head coach Sean Woods. We’ve seen a correction of some of the problems that plagued the Eagles in non-conference play (i.e. fouls) as their tempo has slowed down considerably. Turnovers remain a major issue, but in a way the Eagles make up for it with rebounding, easily leading the OVC on the glass. Chad Posthumus is averaging over nine rebounds a game in conference play, despite not playing more than 30 minutes in a singe OVC contest. But despite the rebounding prowess, Posthumus averages just seven points a game. Getting boards is one things. Converting those rebounds into points is another.
The Eagles would love a repeat of a week ago, with a twist at the end. They easily won the battle of the boards, turned over the Bruins, and held Belmont to just 33% shooting from behind the arc. Repeating the task could be a much more difficult battle.