BracketBusters is about preparing a select few teams for the battle that's coming all too soon. We want well-rounded, disciplined teams that can play at different speeds, possess an array of positive basketball attributes, and have enough scoring options that the star doesn't get double-teamed at the Dance, resulting in the 111-44 blowouts that we're all accustomed to seeing over the first two days. This is why we demand more of Davidson than Stephen Curry, why we recognize the multiple strengths of Utah State behind the weak schedule, why we see more potential in Butler 2008-09 than we ever did in Butler 2006-07. If you can recognize this as Siena's most important game of the year so far, you're on our wavelength.
In past years, when I was in league with the WWLIS, I'd be consulted on possible matchups that would look good on TV. I'd argue for certain pairings, and once in a while my argument would win. This time around, a number of mid-major conference executives who were on last week's planning calls were on my phone and in my inbox looking for input. "Who are the good teams?" they asked. This was a question more in line with this site's mission. So I went ahead and told them.
Butler-Davidson doesn't require any analysis, it's the two best teams this level has and its two brightest hopes for deep March runs. But the top-line game RPI-wise is Northern Iowa-Siena, which is simply a masterstroke of scheduling. These are two teams that are iffy for March play, but both were given the only chance to work on their respective weaknesses, a truer battle than they'll get in their respective down leagues. It's swift (Siena) against deliberate (UNI); each team will test the others' defense in the way the other needs to be tested. Utah State-Saint Mary's features two teams that are evenly matched and could make the Round of 32, given the right circumstances... as we've been using them in the same sentence for months, they were probably destined for each other.
Good Morning Hoops Nation: February 4--The Mid-Majority
Horizon League: We figured this would happen on Butler's longest road trip of the year: a loss. Up in the land of the frozen tundra, the Bulldogs (19-2, 10-1) dropped their first HL game of the season to Green Bay, a 75-66 decision that broke UWGB's four-year losing streak in the series and elicited celebration by the Phoenix's parka-clad fans. All of a sudden, Green Bay is a half-game out at 10-2. The pollsters and the pundits will take this excuse to drub Butler, but let's be realistic about this. The Bulldogs turned it over 16 times to the Phoenix' four cough-ups, which isn't going to happen if you replay this game 50 times (or stick in a tape of the last matchup). Butler, always one of the best ball control teams in the nation, hadn't yielded a double-digit turnover margin in over three years. For now, we'll treat this as a blip.
Butler Continues Key Road Stretch At Detroit--ButlerSports.com
Bulldogs Clash With Wright State Friday Night On ESPNU--ButlerSports.com
UDM faces big target--The Detroit News
Titans Ready To Battle No. 11/11 Butler--detroittitans.com
UIC, Loyola included in ESPN BracketBusters--The Chicago Tribune
Matchup: Cleveland State at UIC--The Chicago Tribune
Matchup: Youngstown State at Loyola--The Chicago Tribune
Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice)--Loyola Phoenix
Loyola Announces Game Time Versus Bradley--LoyolaRamblers.com
I Finally Found My Way--Loyola Phoenix
Second Half of League Schedule Begins This Week for Women's Basketball--uwgbathletics.com
Panthers Weekly Review--SportsBubbler.com
13-1 in the "hustle system" standings--Off The Mark
Graham a key cog for WSU--Dayton Daily News
Game preview: Wright State vs. Valparaiso--Dayton Daily News
WSU's 1983 national champs to be honored--Dayton Daily News
Raiders earn some cred--Mark Katz's Blog
Men's Basketball: Penguins Begin Two-Game Road Swing in Chicago Against Loyola--ysusports.com
Guins Open Second League Swing at Undefeated Green Bay--ysusports.com
Men's Basketball Weekly Release #12--The Horizon League