The BracketBusters Weekend has come to an end. While no tournament bids were locked or secured, plenty of teams made statements. Some good and some bad. With only two weeks left in the regular season, many mid-majors used Saturday as a launching pad for some late-season magic.
Have a look at which teams benefited the most from this weekend and which teams could have done more.
Defeated Saint Mary’s, 65-51
This was a statement win. In what was arguably their most impressive win of the season, the Racers led from start to finish and controlled the pace and tempo for all 40 minutes. Isaiah Canaan led all scorers with 23 points, 18 of them coming in the second half. This win will provide the Racers some breathing room, as a remaining OVC loss or an early exit in the conference tournament could do significant damage to their at-large hopes. This win showed the public that Murray State isn’t just some media-created success story. They are for real.
Defeated Valparaiso 61-53
The victory over Valparaiso might not help the Lions’ at-large hopes, but it gives this team a good deal of momentum as the WCC season comes to a close. The Lions have won eight of their last ten games, and are trending upwards while the league’s top teams aren’t exactly asserting their dominance. The WCC Tournament is going to have a lot of bubble implications, and Loyola-Marymount could be one of the teams to play spoiler. Drew Viney and Anthony Ireland are proving why many considered them as one of the best backcourts out west.
Defeated Cleveland State 69-49
The Dragons beat a hard-nosed, defensive-minded team by 20-points to extend their win streak to 15-games. Drexel is looking more and more like the outright favorites to win the Colonial Athletic Association. Its RPI is not going to get them an at-large bid, and even though Cleveland State is struggling, this win showed that the Dragons are going to be difficult to beat over the next few weeks.
Defeated Indiana State 75-54
The reason this win was big for Butler is because they are the only Horizon League team that has a lot of momentum building towards the conference tournament. Sure, a 21-point win against Indiana State isn’t going to help their at-large hopes, but Cleveland State has lost four in a row and Valparaiso has lost two of their last four. The Bulldogs, along with Detroit, look to be in the best shape heading in to the conference tournament, and Butler’s post-season experience gives them the significant advantage in post-season play.
The Colonial Athletic Association:
The top four teams (Drexel, George Mason, VCU, and Old Dominion) all picked up BracketBusters wins. In fact, the top six CAA teams all picked up wins over the weekend and no conference won more BracketBuster games (7) than the CAA. Depending on the outcome of the CAA Tournament, the conference might receive more bids than expected. All four top teams are playing their best basketball of the season, which is what mid-majors need to do if they want to sneak in to the Tournament.
Long Beach State:
Lost to Creighton 81-79
They lost a hard-fought game at Creighton thanks to an Antoine Young buzzer-beater. There’s no shame in traveling across the country and losing to a top-25 time at the buzzer. But a win would have solidified their at-large hopes. The 49ers will still probably receive an invite, but considering their recent struggles in the Big West Tournament, it would be nice to have a safety net. This team is still the outright favorite to win the Big West. But they could have locked up a spot in the NCAA tournament with the win.
Lost to Murray State, 65-51
There is no shame in losing to a top-15 team on the road. But the Gaels have now lost three of their last four games and will be without starting guard Stephen Holt for the forseeable future with MCL injury. Saint Mary’s could have done themselves a big favor by beating Murray State, and with teams like Loyola-Marymount and San Francisco starting to surge, there is no guarantee that the Gaels make the NCAA tournament.
The Big South Conference:
There are no at-large bids coming from this conference. The Big South is a one-bid league. Two weeks ago, it was all but assured that UNC-Asheville would be the conference’s representative in the Big Dance. But the Bulldogs have lost two in a row, including an ugly loss to Ohio 81-62. Coastal Carolina, the next best team in the conference and Big South Tournament hosts, have lost four of their last five games, including to Tennessee Tech 77-71. Campbell currently sits in third place in the Big South, but out of the 345 teams that played this weekend, The Camels were the only team to give up 100 points, losing to Northwestern State 100-86. Overall, four of the conference’s 11 teams lost this weekend.