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Breaking the BracketBusters 2011

Creighton has been part of the BracketBusters concept since its inception during the 2002-2003 season. Nine seasons later, the BracketBusters is still around, albeit in a watered down state.

What started off with 18 teams that were always around that bubble has now expanded to a ridiculous 114-team field that makes teams drop everything going on in their grueling conference season to play a game, that may or may not be a benefit to them. Maybe it helps scheduling for next season, or maybe it weeds out a couple of teams on the borderline of being in or out of the NCAA Tournament.

I will never understand the idea of having teams like Sacramento State (RPI 340) or Jacksonville State (RPI 335) are in this field. These teams have historically been at this level. It would be a lot better if you had all teams that have been historically in the 100-200 range or even limiting the number of teams in the event.

With ESPN at the controls, they want the ability to broadcast any compelling games. Maybe someday Eastern Michigan or Southeast Missouri State will be to a point that they could earn their fifteen minutes of fame.

11 games will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks with 22 of the 114 teams enjoying a little extra exposure. From Creighton’s standpoint, they have been on TV during this event 6 of the 8 seasons this has happened. Can they get on TV for this year’s event? Amazingly enough from the Statsheet daily updated RPI numbers, Creighton is actually the 11th best away team in the BracketBusters event. So it could be a possibility.

The Colonial has an interesting situation. They actually have 6 teams in this event that are in the top 100 of the RPI and could actually get 6 games on TV. But if history is any indicator, there have not been more than 5 teams from one conference featured in the BracketBusters event. Someone may draw the short stick.

Last season Creighton Otter put in his predictions for BracketBuster TV matchups. I thought I would give it a shot this season before tonight’s announcement on ESPNU at 5:30 p.m.

RPI numbers are based on StatSheet RPI rankings as of 1/31/2011

  • Utah State (31) @ Old Dominion (34): Utah State has never shied away from playing anyone anywhere and ESPN will take advantage of that situation by shipping Utah State to the east coast.
  • George Mason (35) @ Wichita State (48): This matchup is like Creighton and Fresno State. They always seem to get matched up together. I definitely see this one happening again especially with the games they have played against each other in the past.
  • Cleveland State (32) @ Northern Iowa (52): This one gets a local flavor and with the Panthers playing as well as they have, they likely get the call against the best team in the Horizon league. Butler backed out of this event a couple of years ago now, so this is the best available.
  • Missouri State (46) @ St. Mary’s (38): Both of these teams will put on a good game. The bad part for the Bears however is the trip out to the west coast which may not put them in a good position once they are back for the final week of conference season.
  • Kent St. (79) @ Valparaiso (55): These teams are local and surprising that they already do not play each other in the non-conference slate.
  • VCU (54) @ College of Charleston (100): Because of the number of CAA teams on the road side of things ahead of them, this is the best matchup VCU can get and they will feel a little cheated after this.
  • Vermont (88) @ Drexel (57): These teams in the upper northeast will have a nice shootout and neither will have to travel too far.
  • Montana (98) @ James Madison (67): Both of these teams are the surprise of the season. If these were Power Conference teams, this could have been an elimination game. But since it is just the BracketBusters, win or lose won’t matter too much
  • Iona (109) @ Long Beach State (101): With a lot of teams at the top of the home and away being on opposite coasts, there is going to be a lot of money spent between these teams and most of the rest of the TV games.
  • Austin Peay (107) @ Wright State (99): This game is going to be the one that edges out UC-Santa Barbara and Hofstra as far as teams in the top 11 on each side. ESPN will want to expose another conference instead of another CAA team.
  • Creighton (124) @ Akron (167): Yes, I think Creighton will actually get a TV game. Coach McDermott has expressed his preference to be able to stay around the Midwest if possible and in the past, Creighton has had some influence on where they go. If Creighton doesn’t get a TV game, I expect they will be sent to Murray State where former Bluejay Isaac Miles plays.

I guess we will see how this all plays out today on ESPNU at 5:30 while other non TV games I am sure will leak on Twitter sometime today.

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