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Creighton/St. Mary’s highlights ‘BracketBusters’ line-up


It’s here folks, the creamy, mid-major goodness we all love, the line-up for ESPN’s BracketBusters was released on Monday night, with a few games highlighting an, ahem, otherwise lack-luster slate.

First, the schedule:

Friday, Feb. 22

7 p.m.

North Dakota State at Akron, ESPN2

9 p.m.

Stephen F. Austin at Long Beach State, ESPNU

Saturday, Feb. 23

11 a.m.

Iona at Indiana State, ESPNU

1 p.m.

Eastern Kentucky at Valporaiso, ESPNU

Canisius at Vermont, ESPN3

2 p.m.

Pacific at Western Washington, ESPN3

3 p.m.

Montana at Davidson, ESPNU

Northwestern State at Niagara, ESPNU

4 p.m.

Detroit at Wichita State, ESPNN/ESPN2

6 p.m.

No. 16 Creighton at St. Mary’s, ESPN/ESPN2

8 p.m.

South Dakota State at Murray State, ESPN2

Denver at Northern Iowa, ESPN3

10 p.m.

Ohio at Belmont, ESPN2

In between, the one match-up worth spending the entire game on is No. 16 Creighton at St. Mary’s. Dougie McBuckets against the likes of Matthew Dellavedova for offensive supremacy. Both those teams could benefit off a win there.

Problem is, that’s the only game with that scenario in place.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few decent games, Iona takes on Indiana State and South Dakota State brings Nate Wolters to Murray State to guard Isaiah Canaan. Ohio takes on Belmont. But in none of those games do BOTH teams help their tournament resumes.

So, what was the reason that Creighton ISN’T playing Belmont? I need a good one. Anyone? That’s a game that would be insane for the talent level, environment and what would be on the line. A win for either would all but seal an at-large berth.

Another scary good game not getting a ton of play? Long Beach State taking on Stephen F. Austin at home. Both teams could do some damage in the Big Dance. However, a win for either team, national television or not, won’t do much for their resumes come March.

Being someone who covered a game that defined what the series is about (St. Mary’s/Murray State last year), I think this year’s schedule was lacking. Creighton needs to be making a trip to Nashville to take on a Rick Byrd team that has jumped right into the Ohio Valley Conference and played like it’s still dominating the Atlantic Sun.

Some of these issues have been inconsistent for BracketBusters. Every few years they get it right, but in years like this, when the talent pool is down, it’s hard to get a lot of marquee mid-major teams together to play. You have to spread the wealth. I think that is what BracketBusters is trying to do this year.

David Harten is the founder of The Backboard Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Clemson lands 2017 guard

Brad Brownell
AP Photo
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Clemson landed a quality commitment on Tuesday as Class of 2017 guard A.J. Oliver committed to the Tigers. The son of Clemson women’s head coach Audra Smith, Oliver is regarded as a three-star prospect, according to Rivals, although some others view him as a top-100 caliber player.

The 6-foot-4 Oliver attends nearby Daniel High School and should have some time to get acclimated with the players and coaches before he sets foot on campus. A versatile guard who plays hard, Oliver showed that he can make plays with the ball in his hands this summer with the Upward Stars.

Oliver is Clemson’s first commitment in the Class of 2017 and it’s a strong start for head coach Brad Brownell.

Arizona’s Tarczewski out 4-to-6 weeks

Kaleb Tarczewski, Sean Miller
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Arizona will be without senior center Kaleb Tarczewski for 4-to-6 weeks, the school announced on Tuesday. The 7-foot Tarczewski suffered a stress reaction and strained muscle to his left foot and he’ll have some time to heal before the main portion of the Pac-12 conference schedule.

The experienced Tarczewski was averaging 8.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game before going down with injury. Without the senior in the lineup, Arizona fell to Providence in the Wooden Legacy last week. Without Tarczewski in the lineup, the Wildcats could turn to center Dusan Ristic while forward Ryan Anderson has had some solid outings this season.

Missing Tarczewski for the rest of non-conference play will hurt but he’ll get to rest and recover for the stretch run while the Wildcats can mix in some new frontcourt pieces.