Days before playing conference foe Murray State in a nationally televised game, the Belmont men’s basketball team received votes in two national polls and were scheduled to play a nationally televised home game.
On Monday, the Bruins received a vote in the Associated Press top 25 poll and six more in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. In the coaches’ poll, they received more votes than teams like Kentucky, Middle Tennessee and UCLA.
That night, the Bruins were also scheduled to play a nationally televised game as part of ESPN’s Bracketbusters weekend, a series of games pitting some of the country’s strongest mid-major teams against each other.
The Bruins were slotted by tournament organizers to play the Ohio Bobcats at the Curb Event Center Sat., Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. on ESPN2. The Bobcats from the Mid-American Conference are 15-6 on the season, have the 90th highest RPI in the country and and have beaten teams such as Richmond and Massachusetts. Belmont’s RPI is the 18th in the nation.
Both honors came before the team’s Thursday tilt versus the Murray State Racers, last year’s conference champion. This season, the Racers have a 16-5 record and lead the western division of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Coach Rick Byrd said this game had gotten hype since before the start of the season, and since both teams are leading their respective divisions, it may meet those expectations.
“They’ve got the tradition and the greatest fan base in the league,” Byrd told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. “We’ll get all that Murray has to offer. It’ll be a test for us.”
The game at Murray State is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.