Mid-Major Top Returning Guards: #5 – Grayson Murphy, Belmont

Today, we’re starting our countdown of the top 5 mid-major guards returning to college basketball for the 2020-2021 season. Starting off the countdown at #5 is Grayson Murphy, entering his junior season for the Belmont Bruins. Murphy has been a consistent contributor for the Bruins over his first two collegiate campaigns, averaging a touch under 30 minutes per contest and shooting over 50% for his career. 

The biggest strengths that landed Murphy on our list is his efficiency – he was a top-100 player last year in efficiency rating and one of the top-ranking guards – and his versatility. Although he is just Belmont’s third-best returning scorer at 9.8 points per game, Murphy led the Bruins with 6.2 assists and 7.4 rebounds, the latter being a mark that ranked him around the best rebounding guards in the country. 

With three plus skills in his scoring, rebounding, and distribution, Murphy’s career has been marked by his consistency and ability to constantly impact games one way or the other. He posted five double-doubles last season, coming very close to a triple-double on several occasions. In an early January road contest at UT Martin, Murphy dropped 19 points on 80% shooting, dished out 12 assists, and collected eight rebounds, leading the Bruins to a key conference victory. 

Another one of the reasons I’m high on Murphy heading into the 2020-2021 season is he ended his sophomore campaign playing some of his best basketball of the season. Over the final month, including Belmont’s Ohio Valley Conference Championship run, he kept his rebounding and assist averages around the same, while improving his scoring total to nearly 12 points per contest. With Belmont returning most of their conference champion team, Murray figures to be a key contributor for the Bruins once again, and he may get a chance to display his versatile skill set in front of a national audience if Belmont can return to March Madness. 

Murray’s consistency, efficiency, and versatility on a highly successful Belmont squad are noteworthy, and it earned him a top-5 spot in our countdown of the best mid-major guards in the country.

Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Picks

Before there is March Madness, there…is…Arch Madness. The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament simulates the do-or-die nature of the NCAA tournament, as they never produce multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament, so when the tournament kicks off today, it will be for all the marbles. Here is a breakdown of our bracket predictions, along with our full picks.
Breakdown
Champion Picks: Murray State (2), Belmont (1)
Runners Up Picks: Belmont (2), Murray State (1
Most Common Upset: No upset picked more than once

Nathaniel’s Bracket
First Round
8. Morehead State def. 5. Tennessee State
6. Eastern Illinois def. 7. Jacksonville State
Quarterfinals
3. Austin Peay def. 6. Eastern Illinois
4. Eastern Kentucky def. 8. Morehead State
Semifinals
1. Belmont def. 4. Eastern Kentucky
2. Murray State def. 3. Austin Peay
Championship
2. Murray State def. 1. Belmont

Andrew’s Bracket
First Round
5. Tennessee State def. 8. Morehead State
7. Jacksonville State def. 6. Eastern Illinois
Quarterfinals
3. Austin Peay def. 7. Jacksonville State
4. Eastern Kentucky def. 5. Tennessee State
Semifinals
1. Belmont def. 4. Eastern Kentucky
2. Murray State def. 3. Austin Peay
Championship
2. Murray State def. 1. Belmont

Aidan’s Bracket
First Round
5. Tennessee State def. 8. Morehead State
6. Eastern Illinois def. 7. Jacksonville State
Quarterfinals
3. Austin Peay def. 6. Eastern Illinois
4. Eastern Kentucky def. 5. Tennessee State
Semifinals
1. Belmont def. 4. Eastern Kentucky
2. Murray State def. 3. Austin Peay
Championship
1. Belmont def. 2. Murray State