The Illinois State Redbirds will kick off their season when they host the Belmont Bruins at Hancock Stadium in Normal on Wednesday.
The game (8 p.m. ET start time) won’t be on regular cable TV anywhere, but you can watch it live on ESPN+, the digital streaming service from ESPN that has exclusive coverage of many OVC and MVC basketball games this season, plus tons of other college basketball and live sports every week, all the 30-for-30 documentaries and additional original content (both video and written) all for $4.99 per month.
You can sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch Belmont vs Illinois State live on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone (Android and iPhone compatible), tablet, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or other streaming device via the ESPN app.
Belmont vs Illinois State Basketball Preview
The Redbirds are coming off a 17-16 season that saw them go 9-9 in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). Illinois State Dan Muller will lead a young squad that features just two returning starters from last year: senior guard Zach Copeland and junior guard Matt Chastain. Copeland averaged just under 10 points last year, and he will be looking to up his average in his final year with the Redbirds.
Copeland, who hit 53 3-pointers last season, will be making a change that could help his offensive production: he’ll be going back to his favored and former position, shooting guard. He seems excited about the change. “Playing off the ball is easier,” he said. “Focusing on just spotting up and running off ball screens instead of dribbling off the screens. But the point guard position challenged me in a good way.”
This season, the Redbirds will be focusing on making team defense a strength. “Our defensive focus was not there last season, and that’s my fault. That’s what Illinois State University is supposed to stand for, so I’m excited for this group to embrace that,” Muller said recently. Muller and company will be facing a Belmont team that is undergoing a few changes.
Longtime Bruins head coach Rick Byrd retired after leading his team to a 27-6 record and an NCAA tournament appearance last season. His protégé, Casey Alexander, who is also a Belmont alum, will take over head coaching duties. Alexander will lead three returning starters from last year’s team, including Grayson Murphy, who led the team in assists with 6.5 a game. Also back is 7-foot center Nick Muszynski, who had a promising freshman campaign with 14.7 points a game to go with 5.8 rebounds.
Joining Murphy and Muszynski is transfer Tyler Scanlon, who averaged 13.8 points last year. The Bruins will be without a key member of last year’s squad– senior Dylan Windler, who now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, so they’ll need Scanlon and Muszynski to produce in order to fill that scoring void.
This will be the second-ever matchup between these two teams in their respective histories. The Bruins won the previous contest last year on their home turf at the Curb Event Center.
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