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
North Dakota State at Akron, ESPN2
Stephen F. Austin at Long Beach State, ESPNU
Saturday, Feb. 23
Iona at Indiana State, ESPNU
Eastern Kentucky at Valporaiso, ESPNU
Canisius at Vermont, ESPN3
Pacific at Western Washington, ESPN3
Montana at Davidson, ESPNU
Northwestern State at Niagara, ESPNU
Detroit at Wichita State, ESPNN/ESPN2
No. 16 Creighton at St. Mary’s, ESPN/ESPN2
South Dakota State at Murray State, ESPN2
Denver at Northern Iowa, ESPN3
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.