So Monday night at 6:30 PM, ESPNU had their BracketBuster televised game announcement show. And as they were starting the announcements, someone at the WWL decided to put the televised game pairings online BEFORE the show was even half way done. So much for suspense. The eleven televised games are below.
Friday, Feb. 18 (all times ET)
7 p.m. - VCU at Wichita State (ESPN2/ESPN3.com)
9 p.m. - Kent State at Drexel (ESPNU)
Saturday, Feb. 19
11 a.m. - Hofstra at Wright State (ESPNU)
1 p.m. - Austin Peay at Fairfield (ESPNU)
3 p.m. – Iona at Liberty (ESPNU)
5 p.m. – Missouri State at Valparaiso (ESPN2/ESPN3.com)
5 p.m. – Vermont at Charleston (ESPNU)
7 p.m. – George Mason at Northern Iowa (ESPN2/ESPN3.com)
9 p.m. – Utah State at Saint Mary’s (ESPN2/ESPN3.com)
11 p.m. – Montana at Long Beach State (ESPN2/ESPN3.com)
Sunday, Feb. 20
1 p.m. - Cleveland State at Old Dominion (ESPN or ESPN2)
So compare this with my predictions here. I got four of the games right. However, I got my two Colonial teams, VCU and George Mason mixed up with two Valley teams, Wichita State and UNI. I also had Hofstra and Vermont mixed up with Charleston and Wright State. I don't know how I missed Montana vs. Long Beach State. That was a no brainer. I also missed the boat on Austin Peay. I also missed the boat on Liberty, but that's a boat that ESPN should have missed too. And I completely whiffed on Ball state vs Indiana State. Neither team made it (as did Maine).
So, let's give some BracketBuster announcement awards.
Biggest Snubs - Maine and JMU. Though Maine has a much lower RPI than Vermont, the Black Bears are in first place in the America East. And they also beat Vermont in BURLINGTON and had road wins at UMass and at Penn State. I watched that game vs. Vermont and Maine was impressive. They deserved to play in a televised game before Vermont did (I had both teams playing televised games in my predictions)
JMU, a team that had a home BracketBuster game, had a 63 RPI rating, which is 73 places higher than Liberty. Yes, there are five Colonial teams in the televised games. But there are six Colonial teams in the top 100 in RPI and Madison was easily in that top 100. Madison has also won at Kent State (RPI 79), who has a BracketBuster game, along with Marshall (RPI 60) and Princeton (RPI 65)
Team That Doesn't Belong - Liberty. Though the Flames are in second place in the Big South, they are the lowest rated RPI team in the televised games at 140. The only other team in the televised games that has a RPI currently over 100 and is not in first place in their conference is Iona at 109. Yes, the Flames are 10-1 in the Big South. But there best win is over, um, uh, NC Asheville (169 RPI). At least Iona can say they defeated Richmond
Best Game - St Mary's vs Utah State - No brainer here. The Gaels are fourth in the country in FG percentage, fourth in assists per game, and twelfth in points per game. They take on the Aggies, who are no slouch on offense, forty sixth in the country in FG percentage. But Utah State is known for their defense, first in the WAC in scoring defense at 59 points per game and second in FG percentage defense at 39 percent. Tai Wesley vs. Mickey McConnell. The irresistable force vs. the immovable object.
Game with Most Importance - VCU vs Wichita State - Both of these teams are a part of bubble talk. VCU (RPI 53) has a neutral site win over UCLA (RPI 47) and a road win over ODU (RPI 31). Meanwhile Wichita State (RPI 48) really hasn't had a big non conference win, though they should have beaten UConn in the Maui Invitational. Both teams are good on offense. The Shockers are 23rd in the country in FG percentage, 30th in assists and average 74 points per game. The Rams are 57th in the country in assists and average 73 points per game.
Team with Most to Gain - Cleveland State - The Vikings have a RPI of 30. However, their best wins are over Kent State and Iona. And to make things worse you had Andy Katz badgering Joe Lunardi "Who'd they beat?! Who'd they beat?!" about the Vikings during the nationally televised BracketBuster announcement show on the U. So Norris Cole and the rest of his Cleveland State teammates can shut Katz up with a road win over an ODU team that has neutral site wins over Xavier, Clemson and a home win over Richmond. Winning at the Ted Constant Center, Aka the Ted, will be very difficult.
Team with Most to Lose - Wichita State - Even though Missouri State is in a similar situation to Wichita State, the Bears are playing at Valpo, and a loss to the first place Horizon team on their court wouldn't be that bad. However, the Shockers are playing at home. This is a must win game if they have any hopes of possibly getting an at large. Lose here and that bubble bursts.
Missed Opportunity Game - No offense to Wright State, but Hofstra vs. Charleston would have pitted two of the top scorers in the country, Charles Jenkins vs. Andrew Goudelock. Having seen Goudelock, the fifth leading scorer in the country, play live when he was a sophomore during the first Charleston Classic, I know how good he is. And of course, being a Hofstra season ticket holder, I have watched Jenkins become one of the best players in the country. And that is not a bold statement, it's fact. Sixth in the country in points per game, 35th in FG percentage and 43rd in assists. Pretty damn good. Plus I think you would have seen end to end action with Charleston and Hofstra (you still will with Vermont vs. Charleston).
Runnerup for Missed Opportunity Game - Iona vs. James Madison - The chance to see Michael Glover vs. Denzel Bowles? Cmon ESPN, get your head in the game.
Game That Decided Which Team Got a Televised Bracketbuster Game -JMU vs. Hofstra. The overtime classic televised on ESPN regional gave the Hofstra the boost they needed to get the televised game. Had James Madison won, then the Dukes would be ahead of the Pride in the standings and I think that would have clinched it for Madison and Hofstra would have been on the fence. Also helped that Jenkins had 35 in that game.
All I can tell you is that after the announcements, I went online and got two tickets for the BracketBuster game at Wright State. Always wanted to see the Nutter Center, or as I call it the Nutter Butter center. Should be fun.