Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bracket Buster Breakdown

I. 13 "TV" Match Ups Set
Well, not exactly thirteen, as two will be on ESPN 360, which is pay-per-view on the internet as I understand it. Still, the eleven games on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU will come from this list. View the bracket buster page here. Teams in red were selected as participants. After a night to think it over, the teams selected make fairly good sense. Teams with lower RPI's that were selected over higher RPI teams are mostly conference leaders with much better records than the teams above them. That clears up the selection of Western Kentucky, Northern Arizona, Albany, and Kent State. Also, keep in mind that on Sunday when the pairings were made, Ohio was 66 in the RPI which would have put them right in line with most of the teams selected.

The only teams that have real beefs are Manhattan and Bradley. I'm guessing the high amount of MVC teams at the top may have worked against Bradley so that other conferences could get exposure. I am really not sure why Manhattan was passed over in favor of VCU. The CAA already had George Mason and ODU on TV, so it was not a conference exposure issue. Maybe the strength of the CAA carried weight, but Manhattan is a pretty good club with a good RPI that was passed over. Other than that, most of the match ups make pretty good sense. More later, if I have time.

Here's the list of games, roughly in order of "bracket impact."

1. Bucknell at Northern Iowa
2. George Mason at Wichita State
3. Missouri State at Wisconsin-Milwaukee
4. Louisiana Tech at Southern Illinois
5. Akron at Nevada
6. Fresno State at Creighton
7. Marist at Old Dominion
8. Northwestern State at Utah State
9. Buffalo at Iona
10. Northern Arizona at Western Kentucky
11. Samford at Ohio
12. Butler at Kent State
13. Albany at Virginia Commonwealth

II. Last Night's GOI
--at Murray State 59, Samford 38. We now have a clear frontrunner in the OVC.
--at Utah State 63, Hawaii 52. The 'Bows are now 0-6 on the road and counting.
--at Villanova 79, Louisville 73. Cards are now 2-6 in the Big East with lots of tough roadies left. They'll need a monster finish to have a shot at the Dance.

III. Tonight's GOI
--Pitt at UConn. They don't get much bigger than this in conference play.
--Northern Iowa at Creighton. They don't get much bigger than this in conference play.
--Illinois at Wisconsin. They don't get much big...OK, enough.
--Wake Forest at Miami-FL. Must win for both teams.