Belmont Bruins (4-2) at BYU Cougars (3-1)
When: Saturday, Nov. 28, 9 p.m. Eastern
Where: Marriott Center, Provo, Utah
TV: BYUtv (also streaming online)
The Cougars and Bruins are on paper rather similar teams. They like to play fast and (at least traditionally) play efficiently. They average over 80 points per game. Both teams are perennial legitimate NCAA Tournament hopefuls. They've scheduled well, but haven't quite managed their early season as well as they would like; this is one of the last chances for a big win for Belmont while it's the Cougars' first shot of a season that already includes a bad loss.
Scouting the Cougars
The Cougars under Dave Rose have been one of the most up-tempo teams college basketball teams year in and year out. That hasn't changed this year, but their traditionally efficient offense has faded a bit. Having ranked in the top-50 of KenPom's adjusted offensive efficiency ratings in seven of Dave Rose's ten seasons, the Cougars sit at 77th as of press time — Belmont has the rare distinction of bringing a higher rated offense into the Marriott Center, as the Bruins rank 28th.
Fortunately for the home fans, the Cougars boast the seventh best effective field goal percentage defense in the nation. BYU's front line of Corbin Kaufusi and Kyle Davis will have their hands full against the Bruins, who as a team shoot 64.8% from inside the arc. The guards can't slack either, as the Bruins are capable from long range as well.
Since both teams like to play fast, the Cougars will need to rely heavily on their offensive rebounding abilities should their shooting not come into form.
Saturday's game against Belmont marks the beginning of a long, tough stretch for the Cougars which will make or break their NCAA at-large hopes.
BYU's first three D-I gms this season were against teams 200 or worse in KenPom; BYU won't see another currently sub-200 team until Jan. 7.— Greg Wrubell (@gregwrubell) November 27, 2015
Belmont Basketball: A bit rested, still battle-tested
The visiting Bruins continue their strenuous non-conference schedule with this one in the Marriott Center on Saturday evening. After playing the likes of Marquette, Arizona State, Evanville and Western Kentucky already, Belmont comes off an easy win against Kenneshaw State. In that one, Bradds, Amanze Egekeze and Craig Bradshaw all scored 17 and three different Bruins banged home three treys. The Bruins defense finally played the part that has been needed, allowing KSU to shoot just 33 percent from the field. Doing something of that nature will be more difficult against a Cougars squad that is averaging 80.5 points per game despite shooting an uncharacteristic 28.3 percent from the field. Belmont will benefit from a bit of rest, having not played since Tuesday, but once again, they are traversing out west for another high-profile opponent.
Matchup to Watch
The matchup to watch has to be whoever be between whatever BYU player is tasked with guarding Evan Bradds. The junior forward has been making his money around the basket as of late. When someone is consistently hitting shots at the pace that someone like Bradds is, the basket seems about three times as wide. Bradd's 8-11 shooting day against KSU was actually his worst in his last few times out. The day before against South Alabama, Bradds scored 30 points by shooting 14-15. In the Evansville loss? 14-14 from the floor and 14 rebounds. He actually made 22 shots in a row at one point. For a kid to lead the nation in field goal percentage and then to start the next season by upping that percentage in the season's first six games, that's just something that doesn't happen. So whether it's Kyle Davis, Corbin Kaufusi or whoever, guarding Bradds will be a tall task.