About two hours ago, I was sitting in a cab. I was on the way to the ESPN 1000 studios in Chicago to tape our brand spanking new ESPNU College Basketball podcast. (Podcast plug in the first paragraph? Check.) I was reviewing my notes for the podcast when I stumbled on a message I'd written myself last night: "PR Belmont."
Like many of the reminders I write myself during the day, I had forgotten this message. It was written so I didn't forget -- which, good work, Eamonn -- to consider Belmont in my weekly ESPN.com power rankings ballot. (Power rankings plug in the second paragraph? Check!) Of course, I submitted my rankings without glancing at my notebook, lost Belmont in the fray, and didn't realize it until the cold ride to podcast heaven earlier this afternoon.
The moral of this prelude? To remind you -- and myself -- not to forget about the Belmont Bruins. Because this team is looking awfully good.
Why is Belmont, a small school in the oft-ignored A-Sun, worth your attention? Let's count the ways. After 19 games, Belmont is 16-3. Those three losses have all come on the road against InsideRPI.com top 50 opponents Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee. (Yes, Belmont has twice played at Thomson-Boling Arena this season.) The first loss came all the way back in the Bruins' season debut on Nov. 16 for the NIT Season Tip-Off. The second was an 85-76 loss at Vanderbilt Dec. 4. The one-point near-miss at Tennessee Dec. 23.
But here's why Belmont's really impressive: Other than those three losses, and a too-close-for-comfort double-overtime win over Middle Tennessee, the Bruins have been -- how to phrase this -- straight-up destroying fools. Their average margin of victory in 16 wins this season is 24.7 points. Even with those three losses factored in, Belmont has scored 1.15 points per possession this season while allowing a mere .88. Thanks to that margin, the Bruins are have risen all the way to No. 25 in Ken Pomeroy's latest adjusted efficiency rankings, ahead of teams like North Carolina, Texas A&M, Georgetown, Notre Dame, and on and on.
The Bruins don't have any wins over the RPI top 50, and now that conference play in the ugly A-Sun has begun, they don't have any chances to get marquee wins going forward. In other words, there's a chance Belmont could go on destroying its foes until A-Sun tournament time with nary a peep from the mainstream college basketball establishment.
Let's make sure that doesn't happen. Don't forget about Belmont: Not only is this team just plain good, but with its combination of turnover-happy defense and long-range lethality, it's one you should remember come March, too.