By the time, I finish writing this, #11 Butler will have lost its first game in the Horizon league to Wisconsin Green Bay. Right now the Bulldogs are down nine, 68-59 with 46 seconds left.
The Bracket Busters were announced today with the two best matchups not surprising anyone. On February 20, Saint Mary's (18-3) will host #22 Utah State(21-1) and on February 21, Butler (19-2) travels to Davidson (19-3) .
The game that I am probably surprised most about was Northern Iowa (16-6), the leader in the Missouri Valley Conference , was selected over Northeastern (15-6), the leader of the CAA, to travel to Albany to face Siena (18-5), the leader in the MAAC on February 21. It was a difficult selection, I grant you that, considering both the CAA and Missouri Valley are on relatively equal footing. But I think the powers that be at ESPN shortchanged Northeastern, since the Huskies have a definite advantage in the RPI; 57 for the Huskies, 73 for Northern Iowa (along with a better SOS). Northeastern got seriously shortchanged because now they travel on February 21 to Wright State, who as much as I love Brad Brownell's group, is fourth place in the Horizon and has a RPI of 101. This game does not help Northeastern much at all.
There is a nice sleeper game involving two first place teams as Buffalo (14-5), first place in the Mid American travels to Vermont (16-6), the first place team in the America East. The other games are Virginia Commonwealth at Nevada and Illinois State at Niagara on Feb. 20. On February 21 the games are as follows; George Mason at Creighton, Miami of Ohio at Evansville, Hofstra at Fairfield, Green Bay at Long Beach State, Liberty at Old Dominion, and Boise State at Portland State.
This reminds me of the 2005-06 Bracketbusters matchups where they had too many strong home teams. This time, they had too many strong road teams. Here's a suggestion; Have all the teams keep their arenas available for that Bracketbuster game. This way you can then determine the best games and not be hamstrung by who is home or on the road. If you had it that way, then here's what could have been instead.
RPI in Parentheses
Butler (9) vs. Davidson (30)
Utah State (40) vs. St Mary's (50)
Northeastern (57) vs. Siena (20)
Buffalo (71) vs. Northern Iowa (73)
Illinois State (59) vs. VCU (61)
George Mason(60) vs. Wisconsin Green Bay (79)
Vermont (121) vs. Creighton (74)
Evansville (70) vs. Miami Ohio (52)
Niagara (75) vs Boise State (84)
Wright State (101) vs. Nevada (90)
Long Beach State (150) vs. Portland State (125)
Hofstra (99) vs. Fairfield (88)
Liberty (181) vs. ODU (182)
I based many of those matchups on the team's conference ranking and RPI. Those matchups seem to me a lot better. A key thing to note. Patty Mills is having surgery on his broken hand. St Mary's hopes to have him back by the last week of the regular season. The Gaels desperately need to hold serve until he gets back. An at large bid may depend on how St Mary's does without him, thus a win over Gonzaga Saturday and a win against the Aggies on February 21st would be huge.
Well, Butler lost to Wisconsin Green Bay 75-66. UW Green Bay shot an amazing 32 of 35 from the free throw line. WOW! Butler wasn't bad either (18 of 20). Another key stat. UW Green Bay only had four turnovers while the usually sure handed, ball controlled Bulldogs had 16.