Bruins earn first ever Top 25 vote in national poll

Belmont received its first national Top 25 poll vote in men’s basketball history when the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll was released on Jan. 17.

The vote pegged Belmont as the No. 25 team in the country and gave them one point. No. 25 Arizona (15-3) received 60 points. The Bruins moved to 16-3 after defeating Campbell 90-55 on Saturday night.

“For many programs, getting a vote for the top 25 in the country would not be newsworthy, for some it would even be disappointing. When it is your first ever vote, however, it is a milestone to be noted, and I am happy for our players and for Belmont to just be considered in the same company as some of the top basketball programs in the country,” Byrd said in a statement released by the athletic department.

Belmont head coach Rick Byrd is among the 31 head coaches that are polled for the weekly rankings, and he confirmed this afternoon that he didn’t vote for the Bruins.

“It is a statement about what we have achieved thus far, but there is a lot of basketball left to be played, and we should be mindful of the task at hand this weekend at USC Upstate and ETSU first and foremost,” Byrd said.

The votes are confidential and it is each coach’s decision whether or not they want to share who they voted for.

In addition to the human poll, the Bruins are also ranked high on several computer rankings. Belmont ranks No. 36 in Basketball State’s “The State” list and No. 26 on statistical analyst Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. Jeff Sagarin, who has been statistically ranking sports teams since 1985, has the Bruins at No. 37.

However, the NCAA only uses the Rating Percentage Index during the tournament selection process. Belmont’s RPI is currently No. 78 in the country. From a statistical standpoint, the RPI doesn’t factor in margin of victory in its formula.

Belmont’s recent success also has at least one analyst talking. The Basketball Prospectus’s John Gasaway mused in a blog post, “Is Belmont Possible?”

Belmont also received votes in ESPN’s weekly Power Rankings on Jan. 20. ESPN.com senior writer Pat Forde voted Belmont No. 25, and writer Dana O’Neill had the Bruins at No. 23.

The Bruins’ next game is Friday night against USC-Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C.

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