Belmont vs Samford Preview and Prediction
Belmont vs Samford Preview
In an underrated mid-major battle on Thursday night, the unbeaten Belmont Bruins (5-0) battle an impressive Samford Bulldogs (7-1) squad at the Pete Hanna Center in Birmingham, AL.
The Bruins defeated Kennesaw State, 91-53, on Saturday. Six Bruins scored in double figures, including Seth Adelsperger with a career-high 13 points.
Belmont is adjusting to life after the graduation of All-OVC performers Amanze Egekeze and Austin Luke. Egekeze scored 1,350 points while Luke ranks second in OVC history in assists (681). The duo led Belmont to three consecutive OVC championships.
It’s not terrible for Belmont however, Senior All-America candidate Dylan Windler was named Preseason OVC Player of the Year and Julius Erving Award Watch List. Windler was the only player in America to average 17.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game and shoot 40 percent from 3-point distance last season. Windler and senior Kevin McClain were named Preseason All-OVC.
Belmont Bruins (5-0)
G 2 Grayson Murphy 6-2 175 FR 12.0 pts 5.2 rpg
G 11 Kevin McClain 6-3 190 SR 12.8 pts 2.4 rpg
G/F 3 Dylan Windler 6-8 200 SR 17.2 pts 7.2 rpg
F 10 Caleb Hollander 6-8 225 FR 13.8 pts 7.4 rpg
C 33 Nick Muszynski 6-11 235 FR 16.2 pts 6.6 rpg
Belmont Basketball has won 20+ games and earned postseason invitations 12 of the last 13 years. That includes NCAA Tournament appearances in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015.
Samford enters the game with a record of 7-1. The Bulldogs are coming off a 77-60 win over South Carolina State Sunday evening.
Coached by former NCAA-Champion and NBA player Scott Padgett, he has distinguished himself as one of the top up-and-coming young coaches in the nation. Padgett has quickly transformed the Bulldogs’ basketball team into a Southern Conference championship competitor and rapidly revamped Samford’s recruiting efforts.
Samford Bulldogs (7-1)
G 0 Brandon Austin JR 11.6 pts 4.1 rpg
G 3 Josh Sharkey JR 13.9 pts 3.5 rpg 6.6 apg
G 4 Myron Gordon JR 12.0 pts 2.3 rpg
F 21 Robert Allen FR 7.3 pts 7.3 rpg
F 32 Ruben Guerrero SR 14.1 pts 7.8 rpg
For Belmont to remain unbeaten, they will need to slow down junior Josh Sharkey. He is known as a stat-sheet stuffer–when playing IPFW earlier this year he tied a career high with 25 points while hauling down six rebounds, passing for six assists and totaling seven steals in helping the Bulldogs to the road victory.
Through the first eight games of the season, senior center Ruben Guerrero leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. He is learning under the tutelage of a former dominate college center in Padgett.
Samford’s 7-1 start is the program’s best start since the 1996-97 season. That season, the Bulldogs also started the season 7-1, and the team finished with a 19-9 record.
LINE: -8 Belmont
This is a great matchup that features two programs eyeing not only postseason berths, but have NCAA Tournament aspirations. Belmont is dealing with some unusual roster turnover, but with two seniors still leading the way, it helps bring along the younger guys at a slower pace.
Samford hasn’t dealt with much adversity in their games this season. Outside of their double-digit loss to ranked-Ohio State, they have beaten their opponents by double-digits, coasting in the second halves of games.
That won’t happen tonight.
This game will be tightly contested throughout, but I believe it will come down to the final minutes and clutch free throw shooting. Both teams are decent, but not great at the charity stripe (71% Belmont and 75% Samford).
The bet: Samford plus the points
Belmont 81 Samford 79