ESPNU announced the teams that will take part in the 9th annual BracketBusters event. It’s now expanded to a three day event. Eleven games will be played involving mid-Major teams that hope to make an impression on the NCAA Tournament Committee in March. Let’s take a look at the field.
Pairings for the ninth annual BracketBusters – a three-day men’s college basketball event pitting NCAA Championship hopefuls Friday, Feb. 18 – Sunday, Feb. 20 – were announced live on ESPNU’s 2011 BracketBusters Selection Show tonight, Monday, Jan. 31. The field features No. 21 Utah State in addition to seven teams receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
BracketBusters will feature 11 nationally televised games over three days, selected from a 114 eligible teams – the largest pool in the event’s history. ESPNU and ESPN2 will each air five games; all ESPN2 contests will be simulcast on ESPN3.com. The Feb. 20 game with two teams ranked in the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) top 31 – No. 29 Cleveland State at No. 31 Old Dominion at 1 p.m. will air either on ESPN or ESPN2 (determined approximately one week before the game).
No. 21 nationally ranked Utah State will play at St. Mary’s (CA), who dropped out of the top 25 this week, Saturday, Feb. 19, at 9 pm. ET on ESPN2. Other anticipated matchups include Virginia Commonwealth at Wichita State on Friday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and Missouri State at Valparaiso on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
This year’s BracketBusters pool consists of teams from 13 conferences, including five from the Colonial Athletic Association, three apiece from the Horizon League and Missouri Valley Conference and two from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Highlights:
- Utah State is ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll;
- Seven teams are receiving votes in the coaches poll – Cleveland State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, St. Mary’s (CA), Valparaiso, Virginia Commonwealth and Wichita State;
- 17 of the 22 teams are ranked in the top 100 of the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI): Cleveland State (29); Utah State (30); Old Dominion (31); George Mason (33); St. Mary’s (CA) (34); Missouri State (45); Wichita State (49); Virginia Commonwealth (51); Drexel (53); Northern Iowa (54); Valparaiso (55); Kent State (78); Vermont (85); Montana (94); College of Charleston (95); Hofstra (96) and Wright State (99);
- 12 teams have 15 or more wins against Division I competition: Cleveland State; College of Charleston; Fairfield; George Mason; Missouri State; Northern Iowa; Old Dominion; St. Mary’s (CA); Utah State; Vermont; Virginia Commonwealth and Wichita State;
- Utah State is one of only nine teams nationally to reach the 20-win plateau this season and the only team in the pool to own an undefeated record in conference play;
- Five 2010 NCAA Championship participants: Montana; Northern Iowa; St. Mary’s (CA); Utah State and Vermont.
2011 BracketBusters Schedule (All times are Eastern and are subject to change)
Date Time Game Network Fri, Feb 18 7 p.m. Virginia Commonwealth at Wichita State ESPN2 9 p.m. Kent State at Drexel ESPNU Sat, Feb 19 11 a.m. Hofstra at Wright State ESPNU 1 p.m. Austin Peay at Fairfield ESPNU 3 p.m. Iona at Liberty ESPNU 5 p.m. Missouri State at Valparaiso ESPN2 5 p.m. Vermont at College of Charleston ESPNU 7 p.m. George Mason at Northern Iowa ESPN2 9 p.m. No. 21 Utah State at St. Mary’s (CA) ESPN2 11 p.m. Montana at Long Beach State ESPN2 Sun, Feb 20 1 p.m. Cleveland State at Old Dominion ESPN or ESPN
And that’s it.