Rick Byrd

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Introducing Cinderella: Meet the Belmont Bruins

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Video credit: Scott Anderson

Conference: Ohio Valley

Coach: Rick Byrd

Record: 22-10, 11-5 OVC

Rankings and ratings:

Kenpom: 148
RPI: 120, per NCAA’s official numbers
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: 15

Names you need to know: Craig Bradshaw (17.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.2 apg), Evan Bradds (14.1, 7.1), Taylor Barnette (10.8, 2.6)

Stats you need to know: The Bruins are one of the best shooting teams in the country. They rank ninth in effective field goal percentage (56.3%), sixth in two-point field goal percentage (55.9%) and 47th in three-point percentage (38.1%). Belmont scores 40 percent of its points by way of the three-pointer, and they enter the tournament averaging a little more than 74 points per game.

Tendencies: This is a team that leans on the three-point shot, as noted above. Nearly half of their field goal attempts on the season have been three-pointers, and this isn’t a group that scores a whole lot from the foul line either. They’ll show both man and zone looks defensively, and the Bruins essentially have an eight-man rotation.

Big wins, bad losses: Their best win of the season was also their biggest, as the Bruins beat No. 25 Murray State in the OVC title game. Outside of that, Belmont’s best win was a one-point triumph over Western Kentucky in late-November. As for losses that won’t help their profile, Belmont lost to Wright State in non-conference play and suffered league defeats at the hands of Eastern Illinois and Jacksonville State.

How’d they get here: After rolling past Eastern Illinois in the quarterfinals of the OVC tournament, Belmont won two thrilling games to grab the automatic bid. Two Bradds free throws gave Belmont a 53-52 win over Eastern Kentucky in the semifinals, and Barnette’s three-pointer with 3.2 seconds remaining was the difference in their 88-87 win over Murray State.

Outlook: Given their reliance on the three-point shot Belmont could be dangerous. But this is a team that’s had its fair share of issues defensively, and opponents are shooting nearly 51 percent inside of the arc. Against a team with bigger players who can find quality interior looks, Belmont may be in some trouble.

How do I know you?: The Bruins were a staple in the NCAA tournament as a member of the Atlantic Sun, making five appearances between 2006 and 2012. This is Belmont’s second NCAA berth in three seasons as a member of the OVC, and they lost to Arizona in the Round of 64 in 2013. Barnette began his college career at Virginia, and Belmont’s most famous fan is country musician Vince Gill, who’s a close friend of head coach Rick Byrd.

Like Postseason NIT, CBI to feature 30-second shot clock

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Earlier this month the NCAA announced that the Postseason NIT would be used to evaluate a couple rules changes, with the block/charge arc in the paint being increased to four feet from the current measurement of three feet and the shot clock being lowered to 30 seconds being the two alterations. Wednesday afternoon the CBI, another postseason event, announced that it will also use the 30-second shot clock.

According to the CBI, the data gathered will be sent to the Division I men’s basketball rules committee. The committee, which is chaired by Belmont head coach Rick Byrd, will use the data to see whether or not a lower shot clock impacts scoring and pace of play.

“The NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee is very appreciative that the College Basketball Invitational has chosen to experiment with the 30-second shot clock this March,” Byrd said in the release. “The additional data we will receive from these games will be very meaningful to us as we meet this coming May.”

At this point in the season possessions are averaging just over 18 seconds, per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers. Will that average change in postseason play? And how will that translate to the regular season should the rules committee shorten the shot clock? Those are questions they’ll look to answer in May, and more data can’t hurt in that regard.

NCAA announces that experimental rules will be used during Postseason NIT

Rick Byrd

With scoring in college basketball continuing to decrease, many have openly called for the NCAA and its rules makers to come up with solutions that will (hopefully) result in more possessions and more points being scored. One possible solution that has been suggested in the past is to decrease the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds, which is what’s used in women’s college basketball.

Friday the NCAA announced that two experimental rules will be used during this year’s Postseason NIT, with the shot clock change being one of them. Also of note is the decision to move the restricted area arc under the basket out by a foot (four feet as opposed to three), with the going being to determine whether or not the number of collisions (block/charge situations) around the basket decrease as a result.

Making these moves in March will give the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee the opportunity to further evaluate these possible changes in game situations before making a decision as to whether or not changing these rules would improve the on-court product.

“The committee discussed both of these potential rule changes during its May 2014 meeting, knowing that the May 2015 meeting would be the committee’s next opportunity to make a change to either of these rules,” Belmont head coach Rick Byrd, who is chair of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee, said in the release.

“Although the committee will discuss a number of potential rules changes at the meeting, having specific data on these two rules should help the committee make a decision about whether such potential rule changes might further improve the flow and competitiveness of college basketball,” Byrd said.

In the past conferences have allowed their members to experiment with potential rules changes, with multiple leagues using a 30-second shot clock in exhibition games this season. But there is a difference between exhibitions (or the occasional in-season tournament, as has been the case in the past) and games that truly have an impact, so maybe using the NIT will help the committee come to a final decision on the shot clock and restricted area arc.