Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bracket Buster Update

I. Bracket Bustin'
The ESPN Bracket Buster has swelled to an incredible 100 teams this season, encompassing nearly a full third of all D-I college hoops teams. Needless to say, many of those games are going to have little impact on the bracket. Furthermore, the power is inordinately tilted toward the home side. It would be tough to create eleven highly competitive TV match ups if the pairings were done today, but it's still nearly a three weeks before the match ups are announced on Jan 29. Hopefully, some of the assigned road teams can step it up in conference play.

I have created a Bracket Buster Page that will track all 100 teams from now until Jan 29. It will be updated weekly until the end of month, and I will attempt to do it daily during the week leading up to the 29th. It includes teams' conference affiliation, current records, winning %, and RPI.

Teams from the same conference obviously will not be matched up in the Bracket Buster. Also, it is not determined by RPI alone (though it is a big component), but a combination of record, schedule strength, RPI, impact on NCAA selection profile, and probably perceived TV marketability will play into the pairings. If teams were matched up today, this is how the 11 TV games might look.

1. Bucknell at Northern Iowa
2. Missouri State at UW-Milwaukee
3. Northern Illinois at Old Dominion
4. George Mason at Nevada
5. Buffalo at Southern Illinois
6. Akron at Manhattan
7. Fresno State at Creighton
8. Samford at Western Kentucky
9. Northwestern State at Winthrop
10. Illinois-Chicago at Wichita State
11. Butler at Bradley

II. Last Night's GOI
--at UConn 70, Cincinnati 59. The Huskies did get their marquee win and a big RPI boost (42 to 25 today!).
--Texas 78, at Iowa State 58. Statement made. Since the Tennessee debacle, the Longhorns have won every game by double digits, including an 11-point road triumph over a great Memphis team and this trouncing of the the the Cyclones in Ames. I think it's safe to say that the 'Horns are back.
--Gonzaga 81, at Santa Clara 68. The Broncos hung tough for a good while, but the Zags are looking at an undefeated conference season unless something crazy happens. And in conference play, that could very well happen at some point.
--Arkansas State 74, Ark-Little Rock 70. The injury-riddled Indians found a way against the favored Trojans in the Rock. Classic in-state rivalry game.

III. Tonight's GOI
--NC State at Boston College. Both need quality wins. NC State beat GWU, but we are still not sure how good the Colonials are. BC's best win is over a solid, but not spectacular Buffalo squad.
--Vanderbilt at Kentucky. The 'Cats need to respond after the gruesome flaying they absorbed at Kansas. Vandy is looking to establish itself as a solid NCAA club.
--Wisconsin at Minnesota. We know the Badgers are GREAT in Madison. But, they are 0-2 in true road games (at Wake Forest and Pitt). Of course, both of those teams are better than the Gophers who just lost a home game to Northwestern.