BELMONT TO FACE DUKE IN 2008 NCAA TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND

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On the heels of its historic third consecutive Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament Championship, Belmont Basketball will face tradition-rich Duke in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

The Bruins and Blue Devils are scheduled to play this Thursday, March 20 from the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. as part of the West Regional bracket. Tip-time is 6:10 pm CT.

This year, Belmont has won a program-record 25 games, earned its first-ever outright Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championship, and become the first Atlantic Sun Conference member institution to receive three consecutive NCAA Tournament automatic bids.

The Bruins are led by senior All-Atlantic Sun guard Justin Hare. Hare, also a First Team Academic All-American, leads the Bruins in scoring at 14.9 points per game. The Cleveland, Tenn. native ranks second on the Bruins' NCAA-era career scoring list with 1,752 points. Hare, a career 76 percent free throw shooter entering the season, ranks fifth nationally in free throw percentage this season at .915.

Junior Shane Dansby earned Second Team All-Atlantic Sun honors and was named Atlantic Sun Tournament MVP. The versatile swingman from Pegram, Tenn. has scored in double figures in all but four games this season. He also ranks among the league leaders in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage.

The Belmont-Duke matchup pits two of the winningest active head coaches in college basketball. Belmont's Rick Byrd ranks 16th among active Division-I head coaches in career victories with 541. Meanwhile, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is first among active Division-I head coaches in career victories with 802.

Moreover, Belmont and Duke sport the two longest tenured coaching staffs in America. Each head coach and top three assistant coaches - Rick Byrd, Casey Alexander, Brian Ayers, and Roger Idstrom for Belmont; Mike Krzyzewski, Johnny Dawkins, Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski for Duke - have been together for eight years.

Lastly, Belmont and Duke represent two of the nation's top three-point shooting teams. Belmont ranks fourth in the NCAA in three-point field goals per game (10.6), while Duke ranks ninth (9.4).

Belmont is 0-1 lifetime against the Atlantic Coast Conference, losing at Virginia Dec. 28, 1999. Belmont head coach Rick Byrd missed the game due to illness.