Belmont at Denver, 10:00PM Eastern (no TV)
Before getting to tonight’s game, the SCGD and all of us here at HoopsHD would like to tip our hats to the Grambling State Tigers. Grambling sneaked by one of the worst NAIA teams, Central Baptist, last night to break their 32 game losing streak. With Cornell now sitting as the lone winless team, however, Grambling is still in line to pick up their second straight Centenary Award as the worst team in Division I.
For tonight’s SCGD, we head to Denver, Colorado for a game between Joe Scott’s Denver Pioneers out of the Summit League and Rick Byrd’s Belmont Bruins. Denver enters tonight’s game at 4-5 on the season…and they really have not even been that good. Preseason Denver looked to be a solid contender in the Summit with North Dakota State; however, they have proven to date to be one of the more disappointing teams in all of D1. They have suffered bad losses to Pepperdine and Mercer, and struggled to beat the likes of Southern, Wyoming, and even Alaska-Anchorage. Brett Olson and Chris Udofia have led the way so far for the Pioneers, being their only two scorers averaging double digits — although Cam Griffin has been solid as well, averaging 9 points and 7 boards per game.
As much of a disappointment as Denver has been, Belmont has been a surprise. While we certainly expected the Bruins to contend in the Ohio Valley this year, they in fact flew out of the gate, starting 7-1 including the huge road win at North Carolina. Their last three games have not gone as well though, losing to VCU, bouncing back for a good win against Middle Tennessee, but then suffering their worst loss of the year last time out, 85-72 to South Dakota State. J.J. Mann has been the “mann” for Belmont so far, averaging 18.7 points and 5.2 rebounds, both of which lead the team. The Bruins cannot afford a slip-up tonight, especially with a trip to Lexington, Kentucky on tap this weekend. They may still be able to put themselves in at-large bid contention, but a loss in Denver will not help if they do not have an automatic bid in hand on Selection Sunday.