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Not all BracketBusters are created equal

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Oguchi.jpg This is a big weekend for mid-major college basketball teams: It's BracketBuster time.

BracketBusters was created as a way to match up mid-major teams late in the season and give them some exposure a few weeks ahead of the NCAA tournament. It is also a chance for college basketball fans to see some teams they normally wouldn't see on TV, as several of these games are televised on ESPN and its family of networks.

There are 27 total games that are part of BracketBuster weekend, and judging by the slate of matchups, it looks like this event has overexpanded a bit.

Don't get me wrong: There are some good games that are going to be played over the course of the next 24 hours. Champ Oguchi (left) and Illinois State (22-5) play at Niagara (21-7) at 6 o'clock tonight on ESPN2.

That's the ideal BracketBuster game. The third-place team in the MVC is playing the second-place team in the MAAC. Both have over 20 wins. Both are trying to get into the NCAA tournament. Both could conceivably give a big conference school fits in a tournament game come March.

But there's a flip side to this event. Some of these BracketBuster games are real crap. Who in the hell decided Northern Illinois (7-17, 3-9 MAC) should get a chance to play? If you've seen the Huskies this year, you know they suck. They might be able to bust a bracket in a rec league at the local Y, but methinks they won't be doing anything in the postseason this March.

Here's the funny thing: I'll bet NIU wins tomorrow. Look at its opponent -- Southeast Missouri State is 3-24 overall, 0-16 in the Ohio Valley. Dead last place, terrible, barely even Division I. BracketBuster? I think not.

I'd like to see the scheduling for this event become a little more selective. Reward the good mid-majors. Reward the traditionally strong mid-majors. Kick schools like Southeast Missouri State to the curb. Given that 3-24 record, I doubt those guys really want the exposure this year anyway.

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Good luck to the Redbirds in Arch Madness. They will need to win that tournament in order to get into the NCAAs, IMO.

It will be nice to have the Illini back in the field of 65 after a one-year absence this March. It would also be nice if one of the mid-majors in the state can get into the field as well. Certainly, ISU has the best chance of pulling it off.

Northwestern had a good opportunity to get into March Madness with a win last night at Minnesota. Didn't happen. Northwestern was as good as running their offense last night as the Blackhawks running their power play last night (great 5-on-3 execution in the second period). I knew when Minnesota led 36-18 over Northwestern, this game belonged to the Gophers.

Last night, the Gophers became Northwestern's Bracketbuster.

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This page contains a single entry by Jason Bauman published on February 20, 2009 4:52 PM.

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