Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Five Days 'til Bracket Buster Pairings

I. TV Teams Solidifying for Bracket Buster
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.

I have created a Bracket Buster Page that will track all 100 teams from now until the pairings are announced on Jan 29. That means that we are now just five days away from the announcement of the pairings. I will do two more updates this week (Thurs. and Fri.).

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 perceived TV marketability probably will play into the pairings. If teams were matched up today, this is how the 11 TV games might look if they pair teams based on their total NCAA profile. If they go strictly by the RPI, consult the linked Bracket Buster page above and just follow the numerical assignments unless the home and road team are from the same conference.

1. Bucknell at Northern Iowa
2. Missouri State at UW-Milwaukee
3. George Mason at Wichita State
4. Akron at Creighton
5. Northern Illinois at Southern Illinois
6. Tennessee Tech at Old Dominion
7. Northwestern State at Manhattan
8. Samford at Western Kentucky
9. Drake at Utah State
10. Louisiana Tech at Iona
11. Fresno State at Winthrop

I think the top six or seven teams on each side (home and away) are assured of a TV game of some sort, but this week's games will determine the bottom four or five TV match ups.

II. Last Night's GOI
--at Fairleigh Dickinson 81, Sacred Heart 73. FDU helps break up the six-way tie for first in the Northeast.
--Utah State 59, at Nevada 53. The Aggies get a monster win. 'Pack's at-large hopes are pretty much toast.
--at Pittsburgh 80, Syracuse 67. Pitt rebounds from St. John's loss; 'Cuse has dropped three in a row.
--at Texas 80, Oklahoma State 46. 'Horns are starting to look like that steamroller that I picked to win the national championship in the preseason.

III. Tonight's GOI
--Kentucky at Auburn. Much-needed road win for Bubble Boy Kentucky against much-improved Auburn.
--Indiana at Iowa. Seems that there is an important match up every night in the Big Ten.
--Georgetown at Notre Dame. An emotional letdown is almost inevitable for GU, and it comes at needy ND.
--Akron at Ohio. Two of the better MAC clubs.
--Creighton at SIU. Two of the four MVC clubs with 7-2 conference records.
--Miami-FL at Virginia. A double-dip of ACC Bubble match ups. See below.
--Florida State at Wake Forest. See above.