FanDuel To Host ‘Bracket City Live’ Festival In Nashville Coinciding With March Madness

FanDuel Bracket City Live, a free three-day festival centered around music and college basketball, will take over Lower Broadway in Nashville on March 16-18, 2023, coinciding with the beginning of March Madness.

“We know visitors love to come to Nashville for live music and they love to come for sports, so putting music and sports together is a winning combination for us,” said Deana Ivey, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “We are excited to introduce a brand-new festival on legendary Lower Broadway to a national audience and for Nashville to benefit from the marketing and TV exposure as we continue to become known as a world-class event city.”

Renderings of Bracket City Live in downtown Broadway

2023 FanDuel Bracket City Live will showcase a variety of musical performances across two stages, a chance to interact with fellow fans, and the opportunity to engage in the action of college basketball. The festival’s expansive footprint will host activations and stages down Nashville’s famed Lower Broadway and along the riverfront.

The event will be produced by Populous and supported by the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

“Bracket City Live is a three-day holiday to celebrate and create the unforgettable moments that come with the best time of the year for college basketball. We saw an opportunity to bring fans together and experience those moments with one another at one of the best entertainment destinations in the world,” said Bobby Sloan, associate principal at Populous and executive producer of Bracket City Live.

Renderings of Bracket City Live in downtown Broadway

Sloan’s experience over his 15 years with Populous has included work with several major leagues on events such as the NHL Winter Classic, the NFL Draft including 2019’s installment in Nashville, and MLB at Field of Dreams.

Exclusive Experience packages will be available for purchase at Bracket City Live’s website. In addition to announcing the festival, 2023 FanDuel Bracket City Live is opening its largest giveaway to fans. Starting today (Nov. 4), fans can enter to win a trip to Bracket City Live for four which includes a travel voucher, lodging, and exclusive experience packages. For more information on the contest, head to the Bracket City Website.

To stay up to date on the latest news and talent announcements for 2023 FanDuel Bracket City Live, visit and follow the festival’s social accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The musical lineup will be announced in the coming weeks.

Belmont Basketball Announces Broadcasters For Upcoming Season

Featured L-R: Belmont men’s basketball coach Casey Alexander and Belmont alumni and Bruin Sports Network’s Emily Proud. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont University Athletics has announced the broadcasters for its upcoming men’s and women’s basketball seasons.

The broadcasters include, Belmont alumna Emily Proud, returning voices like Rich Tiner and Steve Layman and former basketball players like Jenny Roy and Ellie Harmeyer.

Here is the full list of Bruin Sports Network broadcasters that will appear for this season of Belmont basketball:

Steve Layman returns for his second season as lead broadcaster for Belmont men’s basketball. An award-winning broadcaster, Layman is a Nashville sports fixture in his role as sports anchor at NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV), the CBS affiliate in Nashville. Beyond calling Belmont games and serving as emcee at various campus events, Layman will also host a new podcast series on Belmont Bruins Radio on iHeartRadio. Layman came to Nashville after spending five years as sports director at KOKI-TV in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Previously, Layman served as a play-by-play announcer for University of Illinois Athletics on the Illini Sports Network and radio co-host of Sports Talk on WDWS-AM in Champaign, Illinois. He covered Illinois men’s basketball during its historic 2005 National Runner-Up season. Layman has been honored for best sportscast by the Associated Press and the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters. He also received three OAB Awards for best sports special for his role as host and producer. The Illinois native has been a regular guest host on Nashville sports talk radio.

Emily Proud (’16) returns as lead sideline reporter for home Bruin Sports Network and ESPN digital broadcasts. Proud recently joined CBS Sports and 247Sports as a studio host and anchor. She previously served as weekend evening news anchor and sports reporter at WKRN-TV. Proud was named ‘Top 30 Sportscaster Under 30’ by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America. The Knoxville, Tennessee native began her career at WATE-TV. A four-year letterwinner on the Belmont women’s soccer team, Proud graduated from Belmont University with honors in journalism, sports and media in 2016.

Dr. Rich Tiner returns as the voice of Belmont women’s basketball. Tiner retired as a distinguished professor of media studies and faculty athletics representative in May 2021. In his over two decades at the mic of Belmont Athletics, Tiner has called 18 Belmont NCAA Tournament games across women’s basketball, baseball and volleyball, including the Bruins’ victories over Gonzaga and Oregon. The Texas native also served on the NCAA Division I Council. Considered one of the “pioneers” of Contemporary Christian Music radio, Tiner began his career in Houston, Texas at KFMK-FM, one of the very first radio stations to program Contemporary Christian Music full-time. After several years as an air personality, his career path led him into programming, sales, and management–and ultimately into station ownership.

Greg Sage returns for his 18th season as lead color analyst for men’s basketball. Sage has been honored for outstanding writing by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association and for professionalism in announcing by the Ohio Valley Conference. Prior to Belmont, Sage worked as a producer at The Golf Channel in Orlando, and a sports anchor/reporter/producer at two affiliates in his hometown of Rochester, New York. Aside from covering NFL games and calling hundreds of college games throughout his career, Sage also served as a fill-in radio talk show host for ‘The Takeo Spikes Show’ on the Buffalo Bills Radio Network.  He earned his master’s degree in broadcast journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Jenny Roy returns for her fourth season as color analyst for select women’s basketball games. One of the most versatile players in Belmont and Ohio Valley Conference history, Roy helped the Bruins to a 108-26 record and four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament from 2016-19. She was named 2019 OVC Tournament Most Valuable Player and celebrated her 22nd birthday by recording the third triple-double in program history. Roy finished her Belmont career with 1,029 points, 892 rebounds, 489 assists and 128 steals.

Ellie Harmeyer returns for her third season as color analyst for select women’s basketball games. Like Roy, Harmeyer was a member of four consecutive NCAA Tournament teams and emerged as one of the top frontcourt players in the country in 2020. The Wisconsin native led the nation in five statistical categories as a redshirt senior as she was named Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year. A two-time First Team All-OVC selection, Harmeyer became the third player in Belmont history to register over 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.

Hannah Harmeyer returns for her fourth season as color analyst for select women’s basketball games. A three-year letterwinner during Belmont’s run of NCAA Tournament success, the Wisconsin native played in 57 games and shot 50 percent from 3-point field goal range for her career.

Hanley Riggs returns for her third year with the Bruin Sports Network as a sideline reporter, and second as lead sideline reporter for women’s basketball. The Belmont senior broadcast journalism major has been a regular contributor to Bruin digital ESPN productions in Olympic sports. The Tampa, Florida native serves as lead anchor and social media editor for Belmont University student media, Belmont Vision and has spent time as an intern with the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators, Sirius XM, ESPN 102.5 The Game and Ryan Seacrest Studios.

Jay Gilmore returns for his second season as a sideline reporter for select games. A veteran broadcaster whose work includes time at affiliates in Atlanta, West Palm Beach and Huntsville, Gilmore has covered NBA championship runs by the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. He most recently contributed to Tiger Sports Properties for the University of Memphis. No stranger to the Nashville market, the Middle Tennessee State University graduate has been featured on MyTV30 high school sports coverage and began his career at NewsChannel5. Gilmore serves as an instructor of journalism within the Belmont media studies program.

Noah Syverson (SEE-ver-son) returns for his second season with the Bruin Sports Network, serving as a contributor and sideline reporter for select men’s basketball games. Syverson, who called the Nashville SC regular season home finale for iHeartRadio, has been the lead broadcaster for Belmont Volleyball the past two seasons and lent his voice to baseball, women’s basketball and soccer. The Berry College graduate holds extensive experience in baseball play-by-play, serving as lead voice for the Johnson City Doughboys and Macon Bacon, and was the play-by-play voice of the Northwest Georgia high school Game of the Week. The Washington state native is completing his master’s degree in sport administration from Belmont University.

Michelle Knezovic (kuh-NEZZ-uh-vick) joins the Bruin Sports Network team in 2022-23 as a sideline reporter for select games. Producer and co-host of Robby & Rexrode on ESPN 102.5 The Game, the New York native covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators and Nashville area college teams. Knezovic hosts a weekly college basketball show and podcast and serves as an adjunct instructor at Middle Tennessee State University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Kentucky and a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Vanderbilt Unveils Renderings Of Basketball Operations Center, Men’s & Women’s Basketball Courts

Rendering of the Vanderbilt basketball operations center. Rendering courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

Vanderbilt Athletics recently released a string of renderings of the new basketball operations center, as well as practice courts for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Shared via Twitter, the renderings are all part of the Vandy United initiative which will help renovate and expand the athletic fields and facilities in and around Vanderbilt’s campus. The initiative has raised up to $300 million to improve the basketball and football facilities, which include upgrades to FirstBank Stadium.

The construction for the new building will begin at the conclusion of the Vandy football season, according to Vanderbilt Deputy Athletic Director for External Affairs & Revenue Generation Tommy McClelland, via Twitter.

Here is the full thread of the new renderings:

Vanderbilt unveiled images of what men’s and women’s basketball players and staff can expect out of their new operations center and practice facilities. This includes film and meeting rooms, player lounges and hydrotherapy rooms.

The new building will be connected to the football stadium and is part of the stadium’s upgrades. The basketball operations center will be attached to FirstBank Stadium’s concourse and will feature a Jumbotron for fans attending Commodore football games.

College Corner: Belmont, Vanderbilt, Tennessee Men’s Basketball

Ben Sheppard Named To MVC Preseason Squad, Belmont Picked To Finish Sixth

Ben Sheppard. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont University men’s basketball has been picked sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll and senior Ben Sheppard was named Preseason First Team All-MVC.

“These are interesting times for Belmont,” says Belmont head coach Casey Alexander. “We’re in a new conference, with a lot of new players, facing a lot of great teams also integrating new players. We’re excited to see how we measure up. As for Ben, any time you’re the best offensive player and the best defensive player on a good team, that warrants special recognition. Ben Sheppard is that guy for us.”

The last time Belmont was tapped to finish sixth or higher in a conference preseason poll was 2001-02, as the Bruins were picked seventh in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason poll–Belmont’s first season in an NCAA Division I conference.

Sheppard established himself as one of the most impactful two-way players in college basketball last season. Named All-OVC First Team, Sheppard averaged a team-leading 16.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

Belmont starts its season against Ohio University on Nov. 7 at the Curb Event Center in Nashville.

2022-23 MVC Men’s Basketball Preseason Predicted Order of Finish:

School (First-Place Votes) 
1. Drake (52)
2. Bradley (1)
3. Southern Illinois (1)
4. Missouri State
5. Northern Iowa
6. Belmont
7. Indiana State
8. Murray State
9. Valparaiso
10. Illinois State
11. UIC
12. Evansville



Vanderbilt Picked To Finish 12th In SEC Preseason Poll

Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics 

Despite a successful 2021-22 season, the Vanderbilt men’s basketball team was picked to finish 12th in this year’s SEC Basketball Preseason Poll.

The Commodores are coming off a solid season where they finished 19-17 overall, 7-11 in conference and made it to the NIT quarterfinals where they fell to the eventual champions Xavier. Vandy finished 11th in the SEC standings.

Vanderbilt will look a bit different without their all-conference star Scotty Pippen Jr. who left school to pursue a professional career. However, players like Liam Robbins, Quentin Millora-Brown and Jordan Wright will be returning for their senior years.

The ‘Dores kick off their season against Memphis at Memorial Gym on Nov. 7 in Nashville.



Vols Basketball Ranked No. 11, Three Players Named To Preseason Team 

Featured (L-R): Josiah-Jordan James, Santagi Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler. Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee basketball is set to  start another fantastic season as they’re ranked No. 11 in the Preseason AP Top 25 and have been picked to finish third in the SEC Preseason Poll.

It marks the fourth time in the past five seasons that Tennessee has been ranked preseason and the 17th time in program history that the Vols have been ranked as a preseason top-25 team. The No. 11 ranking is UT’s highest preseason ranking since being ranked No. 6 prior to the 2018-19 season.

The Volunteers spent the entirety of the 2021-22 season—19 weeks—ranked in the AP Poll last season, including rising all the way to No. 5 in the final rankings of the season.

Along with the team accolades, All-SEC stars Josiah-Jordan James, Santagi Vescovi and Zakai Zeigler have been named to the SEC Preseason teams with Vescovi being named the First Team and James and Zelger being named to the Second Team.

Tennessee is scheduled to face at least six of the AP Preseason ranked teams during the regular season: No. 4 Kentucky, No. 10 Arkansas, No. 12 Texas, No. 15 Auburn, No. 17 Arizona and No. 20 Alabama. The Vols start their season on Nov. 7 against Tennessee Tech at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.

SEC Predicted Order Of Finish
1. Kentucky
2. Arkansas
3. Tennessee
4. Auburn
5. Alabama
6. Texas A&M
7. Florida
8. LSU
9. Ole Miss
10. Mississippi State
11. Missouri
12. Vanderbilt
13. Georgia
14. South Carolina

TSU Picked To Finish Second In OVC, Four Players Named Preseason All-Conference

TSU Men’s Basketball Head Coach Brian “Penny” Collins. Photo: Courtesy of TSU Athletics

Tennessee State University (TSU) men’s basketball was picked to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Poll, its highest under head coach Brian “Penny” Collins.

The Tigers received 130 points with two first place votes ahead of the new season. The OVC, based in Brentwood, Tennessee, has had some major shakeups the past two years with the exits of Austin Peay, Eastern Kentucky, Belmont and Murray State, while also welcoming Little Rock, Southern Indiana and Lindenwood.

TSU led the way with four Preseason All-OVC selections this season, which includes guards Jr. Clay, Marcus Fitzgerald Jr. and Dedric Boyd, as well as forward Zion Griffin. Clay came to the program for fellow league school Tennessee Tech where he earned four career All-OVC honors and, thanks to an extra year of eligibility, could become the first player in league history to earn a fifth honor. Last year he averaged 12.9 ppg, 3.7 apg and 1.7 steals per game.

Fitzgerald was second on the TSU team last season, tallying 11.5 ppg and hitting an impressive 84.0 percent at the free throw line. Boyd hit 59 three-pointers in his debut season with the Tigers a year ago, while Griffin, a transfer from UIC, averaged 11.1 ppg and hit over 50 percent from the field for the Flames.

This year marks the fifth with the program for head coach Collins.

Preseason Predicted Order of Finish:
1. Morehead State (7 first-place votes) – 138 points
2. Tennessee State (2) – 130
3. UT Martin (7) – 120
4. Southeast Missouri (2) – 115
5. SIUE (2) – 111
6. Little Rock – 102
7. Southern Indiana – 68
8. Tennessee Tech – 62
9. Eastern Illinois – 31
10. Lindenwood – 23

Belmont Women’s Basketball Receives 14 AP Votes, Picked To Finish First In MVC

2022 OVC Tournament MVP Destinee Wells. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

College basketball season is just a few weeks away and the Belmont women’s basketball team is looking at what could be another historic, and potentially championship, season.

The Bruins won both the Ohio Valley Conference Regular Season Title, as well as the OVC Tournament title last season behind sophomore superstar and OVC Tournament MVP Destinee Wells. For this reason, Belmont have been picked to finish first in the Missouri Valley Conference this season–their first in the MVC.

Wells was also named the MVC Preseason Player of the Year after a brilliant 2021-22 season where she averaged 16.7 ppg, 4.5 apg, 122 rebounds and shooting 45 percent from the field. She is also a member of the 2023 Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List and Becky Hammon Mid-Major Player of the Year Watch List.

The Bruins received 32 of 44 possible first-place votes in the MVC preseason poll and return three first-team all-conference selections in juniors Madison Bartley and Tuti Jones. With seven of its top nine scorers in 2021-22 back, Belmont features five newcomers, including transfers Kendal Cheesman (Vanderbilt) and Sydni Harvey (South Florida).

Belmont also received 14 votes in NCAA women’s basketball Associated Press Preseason Top 25 Poll, the most votes ever received to start a season. They are the only MVC program represented in the preseason national media poll.

A pair of top 10 opponents are on the Bruins’ non-conference schedule with Belmont hosting preseason No. 7 Louisville on Nov. 13 to close out the opening week of the season. The Bruins travel to preseason No. 4 Iowa the following Sunday (Nov. 20) before possibly facing No. 18 Baylor and No. 25 Michigan in the 2022 Gulf Coast Showcase form Nov. 25-27 in Estero, Florida.

Additionally, both Villanova and Georgia received votes in the preseason AP Top 25. The Bruins take on the Wildcats in the Sunshine State to begin the Gulf Coast Showcase on Nov. 25 and Belmont travels to Athens, Georgia, on Saturday, Dec. 17.

With one of the most difficult schedules in the nation, the Bruins face no fewer than 11 20-win programs from a year ago and at least 12 teams who made a national postseason tournament last March. Belmont is slated to play seven 2022 NCAA Tournament squads and hosts ACC mainstay Georgia Tech (Dec. 4), in addition to reigning Final Four participant Louisville.

Jerry Stackhouse Signs Contract Extension With Vanderbilt

Jerry Stackhouse. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

After a successful 2021-22 season, Vanderbilt has given men’s basketball head coach Jerry Stackhouse a four-year contract extension.

The two-time NBA All-Star has rejuvenated the program in his first three seasons in Nashville. The Commodores had just posted a winless record in the SEC when Stackhouse took over the helm ahead of the 2019-20 season. He helped lead Vandy to a 19-17 record in his third–and most recent–season, and made a run to the NIT quarterfinals.

“The positive trajectory of our men’s basketball program under Coach Stackhouse is clear,” says Candice Lee, Vice Chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs and Athletic Director. “Committing to and investing in him as the leader is an important part of building the championship caliber program that we all want and expect here at Vanderbilt. I value the contributions Jerry and his program have made to our community and campus, and I am excited about our future.”

Under Stackhouse’s tutelage, three former Vanderbilt student-athletes–Aaron Nesmith, Saben Lee and Scotty Pippen Jr.–have advanced to the NBA. Stackhouse has reloaded the Vanderbilt roster thanks to a strong push on the recruiting trail. The current freshman class was ranked No. 18 in the nation by Rivals and No. 24 by 247 Sports.

“I would like to recognize and thank our Board of Trust, Chancellor Diermeier, our AD Dr. Candice Storey Lee, my staff, players, family and all the fans of Commodore Nation for this amazing experience thus far and for the opportunity to continue to lead the Vanderbilt men’s basketball program into the future,” Stackhouse notes. “Stability and commitment are concepts in college athletics that are hard to come by these days. I feel very fortunate to be at Vanderbilt, where stability and commitment are part of our culture from Chancellor Diermeier to Dr. Lee on down.

“With this new contract, they continue to show the confidence in my tremendous staff and myself,” he continues. “Through Vandy United, our community and athletic department has made tremendous commitments to the future of our athletic landscape through the establishment of new facilities and the investment and improvement of existing ones.”

Off the court, Vanderbilt has had two SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award winners, including current senior Jordan Wright in 2022. In total, Vanderbilt has produced 18 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections in Stackhouse’s three seasons. The Commodores have been active in the community throughout his tenure, supporting Vanderbilt University’s Next Steps program, Habitat for Humanity, Turner’s Heroes and local elementary schools.

“This is an unprecedented time in Vanderbilt Athletics history and bright days are ahead for Vanderbilt Basketball,” Stackhouse adds. “We are continuing to climb forward and look forward to building on the momentum and confidence we’ve generated over the past three years. Thank you again. Anchor Down!”

Prior to Vanderbilt, Stackhouse served as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies, which was preceded by two seasons as head coach of the NBA G League’s Raptors 905. As head coach, Stackhouse earned NBA G League Coach of the Year honors after he steered the team to a 39-11 regular season record and 6-1 playoff record in 2016-17, en route to the team’s first NBA G League championship. The following season, Stackhouse led the Raptors 905 to a 31-19 regular season record and a second straight appearance in the NBA G League Finals.

Stackhouse received his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina in the fall of 1999, and completed the Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports at the Harvard Business School executive education program in 2017.

Belmont’s Destinee Wells Named To The 2023 Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List

Destinee Wells. Photo: Courtesy of Belmont Athletics

Belmont University women’s basketball star Destinee Wells has been selected as one of 20 watch-list candidates for the 2023 Nancy Lieberman Award as announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).

To be considered for the prestigious award, candidates must exhibit the floor leadership, playmaking and ball-handling skills of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 1996 member Nancy Lieberman.

“The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is honored to celebrate both men and women at all levels of the game,” says President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame John L. Doleva. “The players being recognized today on the Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List have worked extremely hard to master their skills and have become outstanding examples of why the future is so bright for our game. We look forward to evaluating this year’s top point guards with Nancy Lieberman, a Hall of Famer who helped pave the way for today’s female athletes.”

A junior, Wells has already solidified herself in Bruins history with the performances she’s had. The only freshman in the nation to average at least 17.5 points, 4.5 assists and 2.4 steals in 2020-21, Wells has scored double figures in 43 of her last 45 games and 51 of 56 career games. Starting in all but one game she has donned the Belmont jersey, Wells enters the 2022-23 campaign needing only 36 points to become the Bruins’ 33rd 1,000-point scorer. In addition to her scoring ability, Wells has compiled 255 assists, 188 rebounds and 91 steals in her first two years.

Over the last two NCAA Tournaments against some of the biggest names in the game, the Lakeland, Tennessee (Houston HS), native has averaged 19.8 points and five assists with 20-point outings versus Tennessee and Gonzaga. Named Tennessee Sports Writers Association (TSWA) Player of the Year following the 2021-22 season, Wells claimed back-to-back spots on the All-Ohio Valley Conference First Team and was tabbed All-American honorable mention by World Exposure Report after her sophomore season. Wells became only the second player in Ohio Valley Conference history selected as OVC Tournament MVP as both a freshman and sophomore upon leading Belmont to its sixth OVC Tournament title in seven years.

Fans are encouraged to participate in fan voting, presented by Dell Technologies, in each of the three rounds for the Nancy Lieberman Award starting Friday, Oct. 21. In late January, the watch list of 20 players for the 2023 Nancy Lieberman Award will be narrowed to 10 and then in late February to just five. In March, the five finalists will be presented to Lieberman and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee where a winner will be selected.

The 2023 Nancy Lieberman Award winner will be presented on a to be determined date, along with the other four members of the Women’s Starting Five. Previous winners of the Nancy Lieberman Award include: Caitlin Clark, Iowa (2022), Paige Bueckers, UConn (2021), Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon (2018-20), Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame (2012-13), Diana Taurasi, Connecticut (2003-04) and Sue Bird, Connecticut (2000-02).