Sunday, February 21, 2010

2010 Bracketbuster Weekend Awards

Well it was an interesting weekend to say the least when it comes to the Bracketbusters. You saw one team, Butler, reinforce its position as a relatively high seed come tournament time. We also got to see another team, Northern Iowa clinch its at large bid, while showing the country on national television how good they really are, all while missing arguably it's best player.

You had another team, Utah State, now make a serious case for an at large bid (don't forget, they beat BYU). Finally, you got to see what I thought was the strongest mid major conference, the CAA, stumble BIG time in four of the five games they played on national TV (and in general).

I was 7-4 in my Bracketbuster picks, with all four losses as a result of picking CAA teams. Certainly not my best ever in prognostications, but it certainly is better than Beano Cook on a weekly basis.

So without further ado, let's give out the 2010 Bracketbuster Awards.

Best Team - Tie - Butler and Northern Iowa. Butler played an absolutely terrific second half against a Siena team, whose core veteran members have won a game in each of the past two NCAA Tournaments. And they did this while not getting much offensive production from Matt Howard (eight points) due to fouls. Meanwhile, Northern Iowa thoroughly dominated an Old Dominion team considered by many as an at large team. All while missing arguably its best player, Jordan Eglseder, due to a suspention. Both teams are not only locks for the Big Dance, but can definitely win their first round games.

Team That Killed Its At Large Bid Hopes - William and Mary. Worst team is not the appropriate term for this award, because the Tribe certainly aren't a bad team. But the way the Tribe got beat down by Iona in their Friday night Bracketbuster game, it certainly ended their at large bid hopes. You can't be a bubble team and lose by sixteen points (and for those of us who watched it live or on TV it was 20 plus points in the second half) on national TV to a team with a RPI of 4o spots lower and expect the national committee to look the other way, even if you have wins over Wake, Maryland and Richmond. Just a bad loss.

Most Surprising Team - Iona. The Gaels showed the country how much they have improved since Kevin Willard took over as head coach. The Gaels showed excellent ball movement and are very balanced. Liked the fact that their guards are able to drive the lane or hit the three (and it always helps to have a seven footer like Jonathan Huffman who can hit the three as well). If I was Siena coach Fran McCaffrey, I would be seriously concerned about the Gaels come MAAC Tournament time.

Most Disappointing Team - Northeastern. Now this is no disservice to Louisiana Tech, who played a heck of a game and who I will give love to shortly, but this was a disappointing loss by the Huskies. When you are the co-leaders of the CAA and up by eight points with five minutes left on your home court, you have to win the game. Any talk of a possible at large bid evaporated just like that eight point lead.

Gutsiest Performance by a Team - Louisiana Tech. I told you I would give the Bulldogs some love. This week La Tech traveled to Logan, Utah and lost a tough game to a very good Aggies team. Then they traveled back across country to Massachusetts to face the co-leaders of the CAA. And down eight points with five minutes left, the Bulldogs cowboyed up, shutdown two very good guards in Matt Janning and Chaisson Allen and held the Huskies to two points in the last five minutes. And all of this with their leading scorer, Kyle Gibson, only scoring nine points in the game. Impressive.

Team That Put Itself Squarely on The Bubble in a Positive Way - Utah State. The Aggies thoroughly outplayed a good Wichita State team last night. The Aggies were up by as many as sixteen and the Shockers never got any closer than six points after the Aggies went up seven 20-13 with 8:11 left in the first half. Utah State had another very good night shooting from the field, hitting 51 percent of their shots. The Aggies now have a very respectable RPI of 35, a win over BYU and now the win over Wichita State to put on their resume.

Team that Put Itself Squarely on the Bubble in a Negative Way - Tie - Old Dominion and Siena. The Monarchs put themselves on the bubble by getting solidly beaten by Northern Iowa. The Saints put themselves on the bubble after Butler dominated them in the second half. At least Old Dominion has the road win at Georgetown. But the Monarchs need to make the CAA Tournament final to strengthen their case.

Siena has no such signature win. However, most of their team is responsible for the wins in each of the past two NCAA Tournaments is on this team that has a RPI of 31. The No Clue At All Tournament Committee says it doesn't take history into account. But that's bull. Arizona's long consecutive streak of making the tournament was definitely a factor in them making the Dance last season and no one can convince me otherwise (plus read this to get Joe Lunardi's take on Arizona being selected last season). Thankfully for the Saints, the MAAC Tournament is played on their home court, so hopefully it won't come down to Selection Sunday.

Best Overall Conference in Televised Bracketbusters - WAC. The WAC won three of its four televised games, with the only loss being Nevada's two point loss at Missouri State. They won two impressive road games over conference leaders (La Tech over CAA's Northeastern and New Mexico State over Big West's Pacific) and Utah State thoroughly defeated the Valley's second best team, Wichita State.

Best Overall Conference in Bracketbusters - Tie - America East and Missouri Valley. The America East went 3-0 on Bracketbuster Saturday with wins by Vermont, New Hampshire and Boston University. The Valley went 7-3 in its Bracketbuster games.

Worst Conference in Bracketbusters - CAA. This one is not even close. The Colonial was 1-4 in televised Bracketbusters, with the lone win being VCU taking out Akron at the Siegel Center. It only got worse when you looked at the CAA's overall Bracketbuster performance. Colonial members were 3-9 overall as only Georgia State and Hofstra won along with VCU. The CAA certainly wasn't "Fun for the Crowd" this weekend.

Best Performance in a Televised Brackebuster Game - Ali Farokhmanesh - Northern Iowa. Without Jordan Eglseder, the Panthers needed someone to step up. And Farokhmanesh stepped up big time. 23 points on five of nine shooting from beyond the arc.

Best Performance in a Non Televised Bracketbuster Game - Ryan Thompson - Rider. Thompson had 38 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in the Broncs' loss to Hofstra. The 6 foot 6 senior's dominating performance against the Pride had the crowd a buzz during and after the game. And this is in the same game that had Charles Jenkins put up 31 points. Thompson can drive the lane, hit the three, dish the ball and is solidly built. Coming to a NBA training camp this summer.

Most Disappointing Performance in a Televised Bracketbuster Game - Cam Long - George Mason. Brian Mull is right, Cam Long definitely is not worthy of a First Team All CAA Selection. Long, Mason's leading scorer, had a horrible shooting night for the Patriots, shooting 2 of 9 from the field and only 5 of 10 from the line. Long missing three free throws in the last five minutes probably killed Mason's comeback attempt against Charleston.

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