Men's Basketball Releases 2010-11 Schedule
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - - Area rivals and a marquee national tournament highlight the 2010-11 Belmont University men's basketball schedule, head coach Rick Byrd released Friday.
The Bruins - fresh off their third Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championship and sixth conference title overall since 2006 – start the season in grand style as a participant in the 2010 NIT Season Tip-Off.
With over a quarter century of history and the world's most famous arena as an ultimate destination, the NIT Season Tip-Off is one of the premier non-conference tournaments in all of college basketball.
Belmont will open Nov. 16 at Tennessee in first round action. The Volunteers won 28 games and advanced to the Elite Eight this past season. The winner of Belmont-Tennessee will face the winner of Missouri State-Arkansas State Nov. 17 for the right to advance to the NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Nov. 24-26.
Villanova, Wake Forest and UCLA join Tennessee as regional hosts for the first two rounds of play.
VCU, George Washington, Nevada, Pacific, Boston University, Winthrop, Marist, Pepperdine, and Hampton round out the 16-team field.
While regional winners advance to New York City, the remaining 12 teams will play third and fourth-round games on the home campus sites of the three highest remaining seeds.
Participating teams will not play any team twice, and the third and fourth rounds will be assigned to the most geographically compatible site possible.
Following the NIT Season Tip-Off and the Thanksgiving holiday, Belmont returns to Nashville to play at cross town rival Tennessee State of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Bruins have played the Tigers each of the past three seasons, including last November at the Curb Event Center.
Belmont takes care of its home opener and conference opener in one fell swoop Dec. 2, playing host to Mercer.
Two days later, the Bruins are back on the road, but a mere bounce pass away at venerable Memorial Gymnasium in facing Vanderbilt.
This marks the first meeting between the Bruins and Commodores since Nov. 21, 2003 – the inaugural game at the Curb Event Center.
Belmont keeps the local flavor percolating Dec. 7, hosting Middle Tennessee State.
Following a break for semester exams, the Bruins embark upon a busy stretch of four games in eight days. After a home date with Kennesaw State Dec. 16, Belmont travels to the Yellowhammer State to face Troy and Alabama State.
The stretch ends, ironically as the season began, in Knoxville at the nationally-ranked Vols Dec. 23.
The Bruins conclude non-conference play at home Dec. 30 against Mid-American Conference stalwart Miami (OH).
"I thought our schedule last year was brutal, and this year's is shaping up to be even harder," Byrd said. "From playing the NIT Season Tip-Off against four quality opponents right through the entire schedule, I think this is the most challenging schedule we've had since I've been at Belmont. With that said, it continues our program philosophy of playing a rigorous schedule so we can improve and play our best basketball as the season progresses."
Atlantic Sun Conference play intensifies following the holiday season. After hosting conference rival Jacksonville Jan. 10, the annual 'Battle of the Boulevard' series with Lipscomb opens Jan. 13 at the Curb Event Center, with the return game Jan. 26 at Allen Arena.
During the stretch run, East Tennessee State and USC Upstate come to Nashville Feb. 17 and 19, respectively.
The 2011 Atlantic Sun Basketball Tournament will be at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., March 2-5.
"Many people will point to the number of talented and accomplished players in our conference that were seniors a year ago and say our league is in transition this year," Byrd said. "To that I would say that every Atlantic Sun program has elevated its play over the last few years, to the point that there is less of a drop off after losing a great player."
"As it relates to our team, we need to strive to get better every day. I feel good about the players we have coming back and the newcomers joining our program. Our coaches are eager to get the season going."
A complete schedule of televised games and games with live video streaming via the conference's broadband channel - ASun.TV – will be released in the coming weeks.
For an eighth straight season, the live play-by-play from Voice of the Bruins Kevin Ingram can be heard online on the Bruin Sports Network. Select games will also be carried on Bruin flagship radio station, 104.5 The Zone.
For information on purchasing season tickets, contact the Curb Event Center Box Office at (615) 460-BALL or visit the Bruins Online at www.belmontbruins.com.