-For the first time since the inception of the Bracket Buster, it appears that more of the better teams are playing on the road rather than at home. Winning on the road will impress the committee more, but in a lot of cases teams want to play at home because its rare that they ever get a home game on national television. As far as making the tournament goes, its better to win on the road, and less damaging to lose on the road.
-NOTABLE TEAMS HOSTING GAMES: Butler, Creighton, Fresno State, Hofstra, Marist, Missouri State, Nevada, New Mexico State, VCU, and Wichita State.
-NOTABLE TEAMS PLAYING ON THE ROAD: Akron, Appalachian State, Bradley, Cal State Fullerton, Drexel, Northern Iowa, Ohio, Old Dominion, Southern Illinois, Utah State and Winthrop.
Some of the teams Ive listed arent in a likely position to get an at-large even if they win their Bracket Buster game, but are notable because they are the better teams in their conferences and are the likely candidates to win their conference tournaments, and due to their high win totals will have a positive impact on their opponents RPI.
When it comes to the Missouri Valley participating in this, it seems like every conference game they play is a virtual Bracket Buster game. In fact, winning in conference play does more for them than winning in the Bracket Buster because the caliber of competition is as good or better, and it counts in the conference standings, which play a large part in determining who gets in and who doesnt. They still provide some quality competition for the other participants, though, so its good that they are a part of it.
As you can see, there are some great potential match-ups. To be honest, I dont know how the pairings work exactly. Since the event is televised on ESPN and has eBay as a corporate sponsor, I wouldnt be surprised if their personal preferences had something to do with it. The idea is to match the best teams playing on the road with the best host teams. If I were in charge, these are some match-ups Id like to see:
-SOUTHERN ILLINOIS AT BUTLER. These appear to be the two best teams in the event, and both are solid NCAA Tournament teams. Southern Illinois is in first place in the Missouri Valley with five of their remaining eight conference games at home. Butler is competing for a spot in the pod system. Both teams appear to be safe, but it is another chance for a quality win. Southern Illinois conference is tougher than Butlers so they will have more chances at decent wins, but this is the last chance Butler has to add another good win to their resume.
-NORTHERN IOWA AT NEVADA. Like the first match-up I listed, both of these teams appear to be solid NCAA Tournament teams and will end up there regardless of the outcome of this game unless there is some sort of unexpected collapse. Nevada doesnt have many good wins, so this is a rare chance for them to pick one up. Northern Iowa has some good wins in conference, but a road win against a nationally ranked team wouldnt hurt them either. Both teams appear to be in the #7-#10 seed range right now. Nevada could end up better than that if they win this game, and continue to win out this season, but that is much easier said than done.
-DREXEL AT CREIGHTON. Drexel has some good road wins already, but they do have two conference losses and picking up another quality road win would do wonders for them. Creighton has some good wins in conference, but have been inconsistent and underachieved out of conference somewhat, so a win here would help them out as well. I get the feeling that both of these teams are closer to the bubble than theyd like to be. Creighton gets more chances at quality opponents due to the conference theyre in, but theyre still in a position to where their margin of error isnt all that big. Drexel probably needs it simply because they dont face any solid tournament caliber teams in conference play.
-WINTHROP AT MISSOURI STATE. This would be a great game if the two were to be paired up. Winthrop is a team that is much better than their RPI and overall resume. They had a second half lead against North Carolina and took Wisconsin to overtime. Out of their four losses, three came on the road against top ten teams. Missouri State also took Wisconsin to overtime, but won. They have been inconsistent in conference play, but I believe thats more indicative of how much parity there is in the MVC than anything else. Even if Winthrop wins this game, and wins out until the conference championship game, I dont think it will be enough to get an at-large bid, but it is possible. It would be a quality road win, and theyd have no bad losses at all on their resume other than the loss that came in the conference tournament.
-BRADLEY AT NEW MEXICO STATE. New Mexico State would probably like a better opponent than this considering how weak their schedule is and how few quality wins they have, but Bradley does appear to be pretty close to the bubble and a win for either team in this game would be something the committee strongly considered if both teams end up on the bubble.
-UTAH STATE AT VCU. VCU would probably like a better opponent than this, but the best one remaining on the list is Appalachian State, and those two teams have already faced each other. Utah State is a respectable 14-5 with an RPI in the 60s, but right now they dont look like the win that would impress the committee all that much, especially if they end up playing at home. Still, its an important game for VCU for the same reason all of their remaining games are important. Theyre 17-3 and in first place in their conference. If they can win this game, and finish first in their conference they should be very safe for an at-large bid. Utah States record should give VCUs RPI a nice nudge, which is something they really need. Their current RPI is just 59 despite their 17-3 record.
-The rest of the teams you can pretty much mix and match, and get some pretty good games. They arent likely to be at-large caliber teams, but in a lot of cases they are the best candidate from their conferences to win the conference tournament. Appalachian State and Cal State Fullerton have some pretty talented players. Appy State loves to run the floor, and if they are matched with a team like Hofstra, youll get to see some pretty good guard play in that game.
Akron is one of the better teams most people havent seen, and I personally would like to see them get a quality opponent who is a solid tournament team, but based on what teams have been matched up in the past I dont think theyll get that opportunity. They are one of the better teams in the Mid American Conference, and could probably hang in with either Butler or Nevada if given the chance. I also wouldnt be surprised if they were able to pull off a win against a team like Creighton, or some other teams that are close to the bubble. Based on their current RPI and profile, I just dont think theyll get a very strong opponent, which is unfortunate because they are a good team.
Marist isnt in first place in the Metro Atlantic right now, but I still believe they are the best team. They had some pretty decent wins out of conference in the Old Spice Classic and hung in there with Arkansas. They are 15-5 on the year and are a good candidate to win the automatic bid out of the MAAC. You look at teams like Ohio and Old Dominion, and those are good games between #13-#14 caliber seeded teams if they were to be paired against each other. Its also worth noting that if these teams do make the tournament, the Bracket Buster game could impact the type of seed they get. Being a #13 seed is much better than being a #15 or a #16. It could make a big difference when it comes to their chances of pulling an upset.
-There are 102 teams playing in this, but the ones I havent listed arent going to matter much when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. As you know, these match-ups are the first game in a home and home series. All the visiting teams will host the home teams at some point next season, but it wont be part of next years Bracket Buster.
There are a lot of teams that arent in this that I think would benefit if theyd participated. The Atlantic Ten could really use the opportunity to rack up some decent OOC wins late in the year. I believe the Mountain West would benefit if they participated as well. Being a Xavier fan, I know in the case of the Atlantic Ten they shy away from this event because they consider it to be too Mid-Major. I really dont see the sense in that, though. Its much better to be considered a Mid-Major whos in the NCAA Tournament than a Major who is in the NIT. I see nothing wrong with playing a quality team outside your conference late in the year on national television. The teams that are on the bubble who participate in this event, and win their games will have an advantage over the bubble teams coming out of the Atlantic Ten or Mountain West.
NEWS AND NOTES INVOLVING BUSTER TEAMS
-Having talked these teams up, Winthrop barely won on the road against High Point. They scraped by with just a one point win. Butler also needed overtime to knock off Loyola, IL.
Highlighted Games for Sat 2/17: Bracket Buster Edt
Feb 16, 2007, 09:16 pm
Drew Barnette runs down one of the biggest Saturdays of the college basketball regular season. With the Bracket Buster teams being played today, read about who is on the bubble and could really improve their NCAA Tournament resumes with quality wins today. Also read about teams who are favored to win their conference tournaments, and who are facing each other in games that will have an impact on their seeding, and possibly put them in a better position to pull a big upset.
Other big games include Louisville looking for their second big road win in a row as they travel to Marquette, Vanderbilt plays one of their biggest home games of the year as they host Floirda, Georgetown and Villanova Square off in an important Big East showdown,
All that, and much more in a huge Saturday for college hoops...
Mid Major Ramblings on the Eve of the Buster
Feb 16, 2007, 01:20 am
Drew Barnette gives his thoughts and opinions about the upcoming Bracket Buster, talks about how he feels mid-majors are viewed by the media today, looks at tonight's big game between Winthrop and Missouri State, and more...