In a move that is a bit of a surprise, it was announced by the Colonial Athletic Association that they won’t be taking part in the Sears BracketBusters event this coming season as reported by Brian Mull of the Wilmington Star-News.
The impact of the event on the at-large hopes of participating teams is definitely up for debate, but the move wasn’t the choice of the CAA.
ESPN apparently made the decision that the CAA won’t be one of the conferences in the event, essentially leaving the Missouri Valley as the lone marquee conference.
The WCC sends two teams each year, but the loss of the CAA leaves a noticeable gap in the lineup for that mid-February weekend.
But with the CAA signing a television deal with NBC Sports Group in February, more than a few people are of the opinion that the move by ESPN was in response to the new deal.
If that’s indeed the case such a decision would be best classified as foolish rather than vindictive.
Of the participating conferences in this year’s event just two (who had all members take part) received an at-large bid: the MVC and the MAAC, with the latter getting its first at-large since 1995.
The CAA received just one big this year (VCU), but outside of the Missouri Valley there hasn’t been another conference in the event that has consistently threatened for multiple NCAA bids.
For the CAA this means no conference games in December, and to be honest they won’t lose much from a scheduling standpoint.
The scheduling dilemma for mid-majors is getting the teams in BCS leagues to play them in return deals, not other mid-majors.
The CAA will be fine. But what’s the incentive for a league like the Missouri Valley to remain in the event outside of TV exposure? That remains to be seen.