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Western Kentucky Travels To Belmont For Early Measuring-Stick Test

WKU opened it's 2015/16 campaign with a 20-point home win against Campbellsville while Belmont opened with a three-point road victory at Marquette and went toe-to-toe with Arizona State before falling on Monday to the Sun Devils.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It's the home opener for the Bruins, and despite the 1-1 record it has been a great beginning to the season for Belmont. On the other hand, as much as a 20-point win is nice for a team that lost its faces of the program, we still don't know what the Hilltoppers are for the coming year. The Bruins are a bit road weary and the Tops will be well-rested, so while on paper Belmont might be the better team, if there's a perfect time for the Tops to strike, the time is now.

When: Nov. 18, 2015, 7 p.m. Eastern
Where: Curb Event Center, Nashville, Tn.
Watch: American Sports Network
Last Time They Met: 11/22/2014. Belmont won 64-63
Players to watch (Belmont): Taylor Barnette
Players to watch (WKU): Fredrick Edmond
2015-16 records: Belmont (1-1); WKU (1-0)

Regardless of the result, this will be a very important early test for WKU.

Be it a 25-point loss or a 3-point victory, there really is no "worse-case-scenario" for the Hilltoppers in just their second game of the season. And, before I go on, lets keep some things in mind - it's just the second game of the year, the Tops are still looking for their identity and the Bruins won IN Diddle last year and WKU still won 20 games in 2014/15.

While, yes, it was a 20-point win against Campbellsville, there were some good things to take away, and look forward to against Belmont. Justin Johnson played out of his mind, Ben Lawson could be formidable at the five position (something WKU hasn't had in a long time), Edmond is the real deal, and Nigel Snipes could very well be the elder statesmen this team needs - and if he can do it from coming off the bench, that's an added plus.

Much like Saturday was seeing what the Tops could do in game time, tonight is going to very much be about what this team can do against solid competition. All I want is a good performance, win or lose. Give me something between the Louisville loss and ODU win last year, and I'll be a happy camper.

Kaleb's thing about Belmont

So as mentioned above, Belmont did in fact win in the bluegrass state a year ago. Though WKU was able to easily outshoot the Bruins in that one, it was Belmont who came away with the victory largely thanks to the play of Evan Bradds and his 24 points. Flash forward, after an 11-point effort against Arizona State, Bradds is likely to be chomping at the bit to have the basketball in his hands to replicate his game against the Hilltoppers from a year ago (where his stats looked similar to last week's Marquette game).

The Bruins are coming off that loss to Arizona State in which they shot 8-31 from three. Look for that to change in this one.

Chris Harrison-Docks scored 21 against the Bruins last year, and it'll be up the Belmont guards to stop him this time around, but assuredly Rick Byrd is preparing his team intensely given the number of guys who had offensive success in WKU's opening game.


Prediction

Fletcher: As I said in my game recap from Saturday, after seeing what WKU did in real-game action, I feel better about this matchup. I still don't necessarily feel good about it, but I do feel better. However, I think Belmont is the better team, and I think the Bruins are victorious 76-63.

Kaleb: After playing two bigger programs on the road, Belmont will surely be happy to be back in the Curb Event Center  to take on a team that it beat on the road last year. After a slow start for a couple shooters on this team, this would be great timing to come alive for Craig Bradshaw and more specifically Taylor Barnette, who hasn't been able to score consistently against the athletic competition that the Bruins have faced. Mark the Bruins down for an 84-72 win as Byrd's team drastically improves its 3-point shooting percentage on the year.