The men’s basketball team released a tough 2019-20 schedule on Tuesday night, packed with strong mid-major teams, star players and old rivalries.
Coming off of a historic season, Belmont received an at-large bid and won their first ever NCAA Tournament game in the 2018-19 season.
The Bruins, now led by new head coach Casey Alexander, will face some of the nation’s top mid-major schools including Illinois State University, Middle Tennessee State University and Saint Louis University.
Belmont will kick off its season at Illinois State on Nov. 6 — a team they beat last year 100-89 in a season opener that started a 6-0 record going into December.
The Bruins will also participate in the Gotham Classic Tournament in November facing Boston College on Nov. 13, Saint Louis on Nov. 23, Eastern Washington on Nov. 26 and High Point on Nov. 18 at the Curb Event Center. The Saint Louis Billikens in particular are coming off a successful 2019 season, winning their conference championship and making the NCAA Tournament.
The first matchup of the highly anticipated Battle of the Boulevard will be at Lipscomb University on Nov. 20, and will be Alexander’s first appearance back at Allen Arena since leaving the Bisons in April. The second will take place at the Curb Event Center on Dec. 3. The Bruins beat the Alexander-led Bisons in both meetings last season.
“It was a nice run, but it’s good to be back home,” said Alexander.
The Bruins plays Samford University on Nov. 11, Kennesaw State University Dec. 18 and DII school Carson-Newman University on Dec.11.
Belmont will play MTSU Nov. 30 and Western Kentucky University Dec. 28 on the road in two exciting cross-state games, having defeated both teams last season.
The Bruins matchup against Alabama Dec. 21 will be another highly anticipated game. The Crimson Tide are the fourth South Eastern Conference team Belmont have faced in the past four years.
The Bruins will begin conference play in January against SIU Edwardsville at home. The Ohio Valley Conference schedule looks very similar to years past; however, this season Belmont will play two games against OVC powerhouses Murray State University and Austin Peay University.
Belmont beat both teams in the regular season last year, but fell to the Murray State Racers in the conference tournament final. The Racers lost Ja Morant in the NBA Draft, so Murray State may be a team that the Bruins can handle better this season. The Bruins play the Racers at the Curb on February 6 and in Murray on January 23. Belmont then faces the Austin Peay Governors, led by superstar Terry Taylor, in Clarksville January 25 and in Nashville on February 8.
The one OVC team that the Bruins have not been able to catch is Jacksonville State. The Bruins have lost each of the last five matches against the Gamecocks. Belmont plays against their OVC foe twice within 15 days, first on February 1 and then at the Curb on February 15.
With the schedule out, Belmont needs to begin to prepare for these teams with a roster without the leadership and explosive offense from Dylan Windler and Kevin McClain. Belmont will need all the offensive help they can get from returning sophomores Grayson Murphy and Nick Muszynski.
This article by Steven Boero. Photo by Colby Crosby.