• Lillie Burke

Bruins face hype in Tucson

After earning a berth to the NCAA tournament, the Belmont Bruins were rewarded with new shoes: colorful Nike’s with red, blue, and a stripe of white. America’s colors.

Coincidental. Especially considering that Bruins are the golden boys of this year’s NCAA tournament—and they haven’t even hit the floor yet.

ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb has Belmont advancing past 4-seed Wisconsin in his bracket. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim told a reporter that the Bruins were a solid upset pick.

“I think as (head coach Rick Byrd) would say, it doesn’t put any points on the scoreboard,” Belmont center Scott Saunders said. “It’s nice to have recognition, but it doesn’t count for much tomorrow.”

But with 30 wins, including a nationally televised blowout over North Florida in the Atlantic Sun conference championship game, perhaps the Bruins have earned high praise.

Or maybe the talking heads on television just need something to talk about.

“I appreciate it. It’s a nod to our team being better than the teams in the past,” Byrd said. “At the same time… to be really good analysts, they’ve got to pick some upsets.”

Either way, both teams acknowledged that they are in for a tough game tomorrow.

“I don’t know what people say. I just know how good our opponent is and that’s what we can prepare for,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said of the hype surrounding Belmont.

“If they’re hitting those (3-pointers), there’s probably not anybody that’s going to get them.”

Belmont center Mick Hedgepeth acknowledged the tall task in front of them, as well.

“We’ve got to keep in mind that we’re playing a top 20 team in the country,” Hedgepeth said.

“We’re going to have to play very well to be competitive in this game tomorrow.”

Belmont is possibly just 40 minutes away from becoming America’s team—if they aren’t already. And they’ve got the shoes to match.

The Bruins tip-off against Wisconsin at 6:27 p.m. CST tomorrow on truTV. There will be a viewing party in the Curb Event Center.

#BelmontBruins #NCAATournament #RickByrd

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