BracketBuster Weekend is finally here. It is the perfect opportunity for mid-majors to face each other and get some national exposure. More importantly it is a great opportunity for mid-major bubble teams to boost their resume in hopes of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Previews of BracketBuster Games:
Siena @ Butler-Saturday-11am-ESPN2
This is the best BracketBuster game as it pits a ranked Butler team against Siena, who has won in the 1st round of the NCAA tournament the past two years. Siena has a RPI of 33 and a very good record at 22-5 but they lack any quality wins against top teams. A win over Butler would go a long way in getting an at-large bid if the Saints were to some how blow it in the MAAC conference tournament. Both teams have 4 players who average over 10 points per game. Siena is a very experienced team, yet they still have had some trouble playing good teams on the road. Butler is 12-0 at home this year so the Saints have their work cut out for them.
Old Dominion @ Northern Iowa-Friday-7pm-ESPN2
Just like Siena, Old Dominion needs a key win to boost their bubble resume. They will have that opportunity against a very good Northern Iowa team that is ranked in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. Northern Iowa will be without 7 footer Jordan Eglseder who is suspended. But they still are tough up front with forward Adam Koch who happens to be the Panthers leading scorer. Old Dominion will need a big game from their star Gerald Lee if they are going to get this big win on the road.
Wichita St. @ Utah St.-Saturday-11:59pm-ESPN2
If you love and I mean love college basketball then you will want to stay up to watch this one. Utah St. is one of the hottest teams in the nation having won 11 straight. Their RPI is now at 36. So if they keep winning and win their conference tournament the Aggies could be looking at an 8 or 9 seed in the tournament. Wichita St. plays in the Missouri Valley along with Northern Iowa. So it will be very hard for the Shockers to win their conference tournament. Therefore a win here would be huge. Wichita St. has a low RPI of 53 and have not won a true road game this year so it would shock me if the Shockers pull off this upset in Utah.
Other Major Games:
Kentucky @ Vandy-Saturday-6pm-ESPN
Kentucky won big at home when they faced the Commodores earlier in the year. However Vandy is 12-0 at home and has played very well since losing to Georgia 2 weeks ago. They blew out Tennessee at home and beat Ole Miss on the road. The key to this game will be which A.J. Ogilvy shows up. The one who dropped 27 at Ole Miss or the one who played scared against DeMarcus Cousins and Kentucky earlier in the year. Vandy will have their hands full with Kentucky's guards but don't count out the Commodores at home.
Ohio St. @ Michigan St.-Sunday-Noon
This will be a star showcase. Ohio St. has the best player in the Big Ten and maybe the nation in Evan Turner. Michigan St. has last years Big Ten player of the year in Kalin Lucas. Both teams are still in the hunt for the Big Ten title. Ohio St. will try to rebound from a loss at home against Purdue. Michigan St. is a tough place to play so Turner and the Buckeyes will have to be on their A game to have a shot in this one.
Villanova @ Pittsburgh-Sunday-Noon-CBS
Pittsburgh has won 4 in a row including a triple OT game against West Virginia. Villanova is coming off a home loss against UConn. Villanova still has a great record at 22-3 and is ranked #3 in the nation. But the Wildcats will need to finish strong if they hope to get a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Pittsburgh was supposed to be down this year but don't tell that to coach Jamie Dixon and the Panthers. Both teams have incredible guard play and depth so this should be a very even match up.
Virginia Tech @ Duke-Sunday-7:45pm-FSN
Virginia Tech is 21-4, Duke is 22-4. Both have won 5 in a row. On paper this should be a pretty even game. But this game is not played on paper. It will be played at Cameron Indoor Stadium which is the toughest place to play in college basketball. If Virginia Tech were to upset the Blue Devils in Cameron they would pretty much be a lock for the NCAA tournament.
Mega Bubble Games:
Florida @ Ole Miss-Saturday-Noon-CBS
Both teams need this win in a major way. Ole Miss has lost 4 of 5 and are 5-6 in SEC play after starting the season 12-2. Florida blew their chance to get a key non-conference win with a loss at home to Xavier. Now the Gators might need a win at Ole Miss to keep their tourney chances alive. For both teams their strength is their guard play. Florida has a slight advantage up front but Ole Miss might have the best player on the court in Chris Warren who happens to be a native Floridian.
Xavier @ Charlotte-Saturday-2pm
Talk about two teams headed in different directions. Xavier has won 6 of 7 while Charlotte has lost 2 straight. They got demolished at Dayton by 28 then lost at home to a barely .500 Duquesne team. After this game Charlotte has GWU, Fordham, Rhode Island and Richmond. If they lose more than one game in that stretch then their bubble is popped
Marquette @ Cincinnati-Sunday-2pm-E360
Marquette is red hot winning 5 of 6. Teh Golden Eagles are 16-9 and have a RPI of 62. Cincinnati has a higher RPI at 50, but their record is only 15-10 and they have a brutal stretch to finish their season. The Bearcats finish at West Virginia, host Villanova and travel to Georgetown. So a loss here at home to Marquette would be a huge blow to the Bearcats hopes of making the big dance.
Other Good Games:
Baylor @ OK St.-Saturday-1:30pm-E360
Baylor is red hot, but OK St. needs this win more.
Texas @ Texas Tech-Saturday-2pm-ESPN
Both teams are struggling, so a win here could go a long ways.
Georgia Tech @ Maryland-Saturday-2pm-E360
Two teams battling for the #2 spot in the ACC after Duke.
UTEP @ Tulsa-Saturday-4pm
UAB has a higher RPI and Memphis used to own the league, but right now UTEP is the team to beat in Conference USA.
Illinois @ Purdue-Saturday-4pm-ESPN
A great chance to see if Illinois is for real. Purdue is red hot and eying a #1 seed.