BracketBusters weekend is beginning to look like a dud from start to finish.
Of the 13 televised games, there really were only two that held enough intrigue to pique the curiosity of the general viewing public. (That, of course, excludes junkies like you and me.) Saturday’s 6 p.m. tip between St. Mary’s and Murray State and the 10 p.m. start pitting Long Beach State against Creighton.
Well, Creighton managed to lose three straight games — including a 21 point blowout against Wichita State — to drop out of the top 25. Now, instead of giving Long Beach State an opportunity to score another resume road win and give themselves a punchers chance of earning an at-large bid, the Bluejays are fighting to keep themselves from sliding all the way to the bubble. Mid-major hoops has much less appeal when those pesky top 25 rankings aren’t involved.
And while both St. Mary’s and Murray State still reside in the top 25, their Saturday afternoon matchup has lost quite a bit of its luster. For starters, the hosts lost their bid at an undefeated against Tennessee State last week. Then St. Mary’s went and lost to both Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount, bringing them back to earth and, potentially, costing themselves a WCC regular season title.
And now comes news that not only with starting guard Stephen Holt be out with a partially torn MCL, but Matthew Dellavedova is “doubtful” thanks to an ankle injury.
The Gaels are already trying to turn around another late-season skid, and now they have to go on the road across the country to take on a top 15 team without their starting back court. That should go well.
The bigger concern for fans should be that the Gaels haven’t locked anything up yet. They still have two more league games — at Portland and at San Francisco — and could very well lose those if they aren’t healthy. That’s an easy way to put themselves on the bubble heading into the league tournament. The same can be said for Murray State, who still has to visit Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech, two of the best teams in the OVC.
So instead of being a battle of the mid-major titans, this game has become a game of survival. The loser may end up on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday.
Bracket Eliminators, indeed.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.