#81 Belmont Bruins: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s fourth annual college basketball season preview series where we break 111 teams in the 111 days leading up to the opening tip-off of the 2013-2014 season.  We will rank the 84 power conference teams (including the new Big East and American Athletic Conferences) and top 27 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

With three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament and an average of more than 28 wins per season during that span, the Belmont Bruins have been one of the better mid-major programs in the country.  There might be a bit of a dip on talent this season but the Bruins are still the favorites to win the Ohio Valley Conference.

BELMONT BRUINS
Last Season: 1st, 16-2 in Ohio Valley, 26-7 overall
Predicted OVC Finish: 1st

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Drew Windler (Sr)/Chad Lang (Jr)/Tyler Hadden (Fr)
F: Blake Jenkins (Sr)/Nick Smith (Fr)
G/F: J.J. Mann (Sr)/Holden Mobley (Jr)/Evan Bradds (Fr)
SG: Craig Bradshaw (So)/Jeff Ladig (So)/Spencer Turner (Jr)
PG: Reece Chamberlain (Jr)/Caleb Chobway (Fr)/Austin Luke (Fr)

Gone: SG-Ian Clark, PG-Kerron Johnson, F/C-Trevor Noack, F-Brandon Baker, G-Adam Barnes

2013-2014 Outlook:
The Belmont Bruins lose their top three scorers from last season and return only four players who were part of the regular rotation.  Two starters do return in J.J. Mann and Blake Jenkins.  Due to their experience, they will be relied upon heavily by head coach Rick Byrd.  Mann is a versatile wing who does a little bit of everything to contribute, most notably knock down three-point shots.  Jenkins must become more of a force on the glass since Belmont doesn’t have a lot of size inside.

Samford transfer Drew Windler adds a needed injection of talent in the middle.  He was Third Team All-Southern Conference as a junior and can stretch defenses with his face-up game.  Chad Lang is a big body inside and should see a larger role off the bench though he will be pushed for playing time by freshmen Tyler Hadden and Nick Smith.

The backcourt is an area of concern with the massive losses of graduating seniors Ian Clark and Kerron Johnson.  Reece Chamberlain was the team’s sixth man a year ago and assumes the full-time point guard responsibilities.  There should be an interesting battle at shooting guard with Craig Bradshaw, Jeff Ladig, and Spencer Turner all battling for minutes.  Redshirt freshman Caleb Chowbay will see time off the bench at the point with Austin Luke probably being the odd man out of the rotation.

Belmont has more questions entering this season than they have had during the past couple of years.  The Bruins have been able to outscore opponents with their precise, unselfish offense and three-point shooting.  It won’t be as easy this year, but you can’t count out a fourth straight trip to the Big Dance.

Player to Watch: J.J. Mann
Mann is one of the more complete players in the OVC as he get results on both ends of the floor.  He rebounds when needed, led the team in steals last year while finished second in rebounds and assists.  How he handles the likely responsibility of being Belmont’s go-to scorer will be a major factor in the team’s success as March approaches.

Key Non-Conference Games:
TBD

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#82 Texas
#83 Houston
#84 Washington State
#85 Iona
#86 Oregon State
#87 Louisiana Tech
#88 Towson
#89 Wake Forest
#90 Central Florida
#91 Rutgers
#92 Drexel
#93 USC
#94 Charleston
#95 Seton Hall
#96 Vanderbilt
#97 George Mason
#98 Clemson
#99 Penn State
#100 Nebraska
#101 West Virginia
#102 South Florida
#103 Mississippi State
#104 DePaul
#105 South Carolina
#106 Texas Tech
#107 TCU
#108 Virginia Tech
#109 Georgia
#110 Utah
#111 Auburn

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu to Milwaukee.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet , AND the second most accurate 2013 NBA Mock Draft. (Yup, nearly 3peat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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