The Belmont men’s basketball team received its highest seed ever when matchups were announced for the NCAA tournament Sunday afternoon.
The Bruins, as a No. 11 seed, will face the Arizona Wildcats Thursday at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. The Bruins have never faced the No. 6 seed Wildcats, who have lost five of their last 10 games but started the season with 15 straight wins.
The 26-6 Ohio Valley Conference champions were the final team announced during the CBS selection show. The standing-room only audience at the Beaman Student Life Center were on their feet at the Bruins’ name were announced.
“You just hope they don’t forget about you every time,” said senior Kerron Johnson at a press conference after the announcement.
The Bruins were ranked as the 55th best team in the tournament by the NCAA’s selection committee. The team’s No. 11 seed was two lines above where the team had ever been placed.
“It seemed like most people who do this seriously had us as a 12 [seed], so I appreciate the committee have confidence in our year,” said coach Rick Byrd.
The Belmont team will attempt win the program’s first NCAA Tournament victory after six tournament losses against Duke, Georgetown, UCLA and Wisconsin. The Bruins have won their last three straight conference tournaments, including their first in the OVC.
– Brian Wilson