Milwaukee at Belmont, 7:30 PM Eastern, ovcdigitalnetwork.com
Nashville, Tennessee is the home of the Grand Ole Opry, some great hot chicken, and one of the Ohio Valley Conference’s top programs, the Belmont Bruins. Tonight, in our Under the Radar Game of the day, Belmont will be hosting the Horizon League’s Milwaukee Panthers. Belmont enters tonight’s game at 5-5 on the season, including a very notable road win at Middle Tennessee. The Bruins biggest setback so far this year came in their two Battle of the Boulevard games against rival Lipscomb, a team they had defeated 11 straight times heading into the year, and got swept by this season. Amanze Egekeze has scored 20 or more points 7 times this season while Dylan Windler has 7 double-doubles to his credit. Both players will need to step up their games and get some help as the Bruins play out the end of their non-conference schedule and get ready for OVC play in two weeks.
Milwaukee has been one of the most up-and-down teams in the nation already this season, something that seems to have carried over from last year when they finished in 10th place in the Horizon before making a run to the conference tournament championship game. The Panthers are 6-4 on the season with a win at Iowa State among the feathers in their cap. On the other hand, their losses include a home 69-55 loss to non-D1 Concordia. Depending on which Milwaukee team shows up each night, this team could simultaneously be considered a favorite to win the Horizon League and a team that might finish at or neat the bottom of the league standings again. Sophomore Bryce Nze is an important piece for the Panthers, and his stat lines have fluctuated as much as the team’s wins and losses have — from 4 points (Montana State) to 17 points (Florida International) and from 3 rebounds (Western Illinois) to 12 rebounds (Elon and Jacksonville). As he gets more experience, and his team improves around him, it would not shock us at all to see this team get consistent and begin raking in the wins.
OTHER NOTABLE GAMES
-VILLANOVA AT TEMPLE (Big Five). It has been a while since Nova lost a Big Five game, and they aren’t likely to lose tonight, but Temple appears like they may have a tournament caliber team and they’re at home in a rivalry game, so it’s definitely worth tuning into.
-WESTERN KENTUCKY AT WISCONSIN. Western KY has some pretty good wins, but they also have a handful of head scratching losses. At just 4-7, Wiscy needs to string together several wins just to elevate themselves to the level of not sucking. They were blasted by Marquette at home over the weekend, which was their third home loss of the season. Western KY is definitely good enough to pull off this win.
-HOUSTON AT LSU. I like this Houston team (even though no one else at Hoops HD does). I know LSU isn’t great but they are unbeaten at home and this would be another road win on Houston’s profile, which is starting to look more and more respectable.
-DENVER AT NORTHERN COLORADO (Front Range). We at Hoops HD love the Front Range!!!! Other than that this game is rather meaningless.
-GRAND CANYON AT BOISE STATE. GCU’s schedule has a lot of cupcakes on it, but that is not the case tonight. Boise comes in with just one loss on the season and some fairly decent wins. They will continue to be in good shape and on pace for the NCAA Tournament if they’re able to hold serve in games like this.
-PORTLAND STATE AT OREGON. This is a buy game, but I like this Portland State team and think they can make a little bit of noise at Oregon tonight.
-Savannah State @ Texas A&M – buy game
-Longwood @ Illinois – buy game
-New Orleans @ SMU – buy game
-Kennesaw State @ Texas Tech
-Pine Bluff @ Fresno State – buy game