-The Bracket Buster match-ups will be announced this coming Monday. Im of the belief that they should wait at least one more week because some of the teams that are hot now may not be playing as well in three weeks. A match-up that looks exciting now between two teams that need a quality win may not look that way by the time the games roll around. I understand that its difficult for the schools playing on the road to make the travel arrangements on that short of notice, but I do think that it could still be done.
-Drake will almost assuredly go to Butler. Neither team needs the win to make the NCAA Tournament because it looks as though both are safely in already, but it would be the highest quality win for either team this season.
-Saint Marys is another team that appears to be safely in. Theyve already played Drake this season, so whoever it is that matches the teams up wouldnt put them together again. Chances are the Gaels will be hosting either Kent State or Creighton, both of whom need a win of that caliber to help get them into the discussion. Creighton has already fallen twice to Drake, and unless they face them in the conference tournament wont have another shot at a high quality win. Kent State could really use a high quality win as well, but should be okay so long as they dont lose to an poor RPI teams between now and the end.
-Other than that its hard to get overly excited about the other potential match-ups. Both George Mason and VCU are on the road, and I guess both have an outside shot at earning a bid, but other than Illinois State and Ohio, none of the teams who are hosting are all that close to the bubble.
-Davidson vs either Winthrop or Cal State Northridge would be an interesting game. All three of those teams are capable of pulling an upset in the NCAA Tournament. Having said that, it looks as though all those teams will have to win their conference tournaments to get in. The Buster match-up would be an exciting one, but wouldnt have any impact on the at-large picture.
-South Alabama, a team that is close to the bubble, isnt even playing. They strike me as a team that could really benefit from participating this year, especially since theyd be the most likely candidates to be sent out to Saint Marys to play. I believe theyll be okay for a bid so long as they dont lose to any poor RPI teams prior to the conference tournament, but they could certainly help themselves out if they were to face a quality team in the Bracket Buster.
-The Mountain West and Atlantic Ten dont participate either. Many of the fans of those conferences feel that its an event for mid-majors and dont want to associate themselves with that label, even though there are bubble teams in both conferences that could really use a nice OOC win. Fortunately for both leagues there appears to be enough quality competition within those conferences this year that the teams arent lacking the opportunities to win the kinds of games that will impress the selection committee.RECAPPING THE WEEK
-Kansas State knocked off Kansas in Manhattan for the first time in 24 years. Kansas State had managed a few wins on the road against the Jayhawks, most recently in 2006, but theyve been few and far between, and evidently none of them came on their home floor. Kansas State is one of the hottest teams in the country, and right now they sit atop the Big Twelve standings. I was very skeptical as to what kind of job Frank Martin would do as head coach, and I admit that I wasnt a believer after they lost some of their games early on, but theyve been on rampage lately.
-Texas A&M beat Texas handily the other night, and after a somewhat sluggish 1-3 start in league play, theyve now managed a road win against Oklahoma State and a quality home win against rival Texas, so I believe its safe to say theyve rebounded. I dont know if TAMU will end up making the pod system, but they do appear to be a very solid NCAA team.
-Dayton, who had done one of the biggest 180s in terms of going from playing great to playing awful, finally picked up a win against Saint Louis earlier this week. That will help stop the bleeding somewhat. They need to find a way to continue to cope until they get back to full health.
-Drake continues to cruise, and they picked up another big win against Creighton earlier this week. Creighton really needed a standout win on their resume, but unless it comes in either the Bracket Buster or in the conference tournament, it doesnt look like theyre going to get it, which hurts their NCAA Tournament chances. As was mentioned earlier, Drake is almost assuredly headed to Butler in what should be a great Bracket Buster game.
-Arkansas, who desperately needed a big win, got one against a red hot Mississippi State team earlier this week. Mississippi State had won nine games in a row, but other than a decisive win against rival Mississippi, none were worth getting too excited about. Still, its a big win for an Arkansas team that had slipped outside the bubble as far as our projections go.
-Butler is now all by themselves in first place in the Horizon League, which puts them on track to host the conference tournament. Cleveland State, who had been red hot, has lost three straight games.
-Arizona State was beaten handily last night by UCLA, which was their fourth straight loss after a stretch where they won 14 out of 15. They did play and beat Xavier out of conference, but other than that none of their wins are worth getting too excited over. Their RPI has now dropped into the 80s, and they have another tough assignment in their next game as they travel to USC.
-Connecticut picked up their second straight impressive win without Jerome Dyson
and Doug Wiggins
, both of whom have been suspended from the team. They knocked off Louisville 69-67 in a game where Louisville really struggled from the line, at least down the stretch. The Cardinals are still in good shape as far as making the field, but this is the kind of win that could help them earn a good seed. Connecticuts stock is rising despite the fact that theyre not at full strength.