As most Tar Heel fans are well aware of, the 2013-2014 basketball schedule is a pretty tough one, but when the good teams on Carolina’s schedule are mentioned the Belmont Bruins are usually overlooked.
Belmont has a solid program, they’ve made the NCAA tournament six out of the last eight seasons. Last season they were 26-7, Ohio Valley regular season and tournament champions and made the NCAA tournament where they loss to Arizona in the first round. Head Coach Rick Byrd and his squad are a custom to winning so at the least they’ll be a confident bunch when they come to Chapel Hill. On the other hand the Bruins will be an inexperienced group. Their top 3 scorers from last season are gone and some players who didn’t get much run last year will be expected to contribute. So at the point when they meet Carolina, many of the Bruins will still be trying to figure out their roles on the team.
Belmont likes to get up and down the court, which should play right in the hands of UNC and their superior athletes. Defensively the Heels will have to be ready to go because the defending Ohio Valley champs can flat-out shot the rock. As a team they shot 49.4 percent from the field which was good for 4th in the country, so Carolina must find the shooters and avoid giving them clean looks. Rebounding is a major weakness for this Belmont team. Their leading returning rebounder guard/forward J.J. Mann only grabbed 4.7 boards per game and when the teams meet the Tar Heels should have a major rebounding edge.
With this game being so early in the season, expect both teams to still be “working the kinks out”. With that being said UNC should comfortably handle Belmont with or without P.J. Hairston. Their bigger, stronger, faster and the game is at the Smith Center.