The Belmont Bruins are no unknown to anyone who has followed college hoops over the past decade. Rick Byrd’s program has reached the NCAA Tournament seven times since 2006.
On Friday night, the Bruins — perhaps again the best team in the Ohio Valley Conference — got a great road win against Marquette on Friday night. It’s a Marquette team that’s still improving, but any time any nonconference team can get a win in a Big East gym, it’s a big deal. If Belmont winds up in the NCAA Tournament again, this is the type of win that could help the team toward a No. 12 seed.
Belmont held on late to win 83-80, getting a game-high 24 points from Evan Bradds and another 18 from star Craig Bradshaw. In probably the most entertaining game of college basketball’s opening night, the teams traded big shots in the closing minutes. Belmont drained 12 3-pointers; Marquette snared 44 boards.
It was an eye-pleasing upset on a night where college hoops had a number of them.
For Marquette’s five-star freshman Henry Ellenson, it was a sweet debut, even in a loss. Ellenson showed up in a HUGE way, putting up 21 points and 16 boards. Marquette is still likely a year away from contending for a Big Dance big. Belmont looks to be even better than the No. 15 seed that gave Virginia a scare in last March’s Round of 64.
It feels great to have college hoops back.