The BracketBusters have also often been an important factor in helping mid major teams get to the NCAA Tournament. In certainly two cases, 2006 with George Mason and 2011 with VCU, without their BracketBuster wins at Wichita State (how ironic is that?), those teams probably don't make the NCAA Tournament, let alone get to the Final Four.
I have often thought the way ESPN does the home and away team pools for the BracketBusters takes away from having more meaningful games for more teams. Such was the case for this year's series. You had seemingly too many strong home teams and not enough good road teams.
finally put me on the other side of the fence. They rewarded several teams television games based on their RPI and not their record or standing in conference. Northern Iowa, who was in seventh place in the Missouri Valley with a 4-7 conference record when they were picked and Missouri State, who was third place in the Missouri Valley with a 6-5 conference record and a 13-10 overall record when they were picked, are two teams that immediately come to mind (both teams lost their BracketBuster games yesterday).
Meanwhile, George Mason, Stony Brook and Loyola Maryland, three teams that were in first place in their respective conferences at the time of the BracketBuster selections, were denied television games. If you are not going to reward teams based on merit, why then have the BracketBuster series? By the way, George Mason and Stony Brook won their non-televised BracketBuster games, while Loyola Maryland plays theirs today.
I was at the Mack Center in 2006 EXACTLY six years ago to the day when Hofstra first hosted Siena in a BracketBuster game. Hofstra was snubbed out of a television game because AGAIN there were too many good home teams and not enough good road teams. The game was memorable for two reasons. One, Adrian Uter had probably his most dominant game with the Pride scoring a career high twenty seven points and added four blocks in a 76-62 win over the Saints. Second, Siena head coach Fran McCaffery AND his wife were both tossed from the game.
So here we were exactly six years later. The game had much less meaning than the game in 2006. Then, Hofstra was one of the best teams in the CAA, fighting for a bid to the NCAA Tournament. This season, Hofstra only has two conference wins. You could say Hofstra and Siena were battling for the best team to have beaten Iona, a team playing a featured televised game at home vs. Nevada at the same time.
And Siena decided to come out as flat as the atmosphere. The Saints had a turnover in each of their first four possessions, and nine turnovers in barely over five minutes. Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro had to call two timeouts in the first four minutes of the game. As a result, the Pride went up early 8-0.
But has been the case many times this season, Hofstra couldn't fully capitalize on all of Siena's mistakes. After taking the early eight point lead, the Pride missed four out of five shots and committed two turnovers. This allowed the Saints to go on a 10-2 run and tie the game at ten with a little less than twelve minutes left in the half.
The game was tied eight times in the first half. So it made perfect sense that the game was tied at thirty seven at the half. At halftime, my older son Matthew and I went over to say hi to Defiantly Dutch and his much better half, Michelle. It's become an annual game ritual to go over to see my two good friends at halftime and talk about the first half.
In this game, Mejia had a strong first half and he continued with an equally strong second half. He buried another two three pointers, giving him four on the game. He also had another two steals in the second half, also giving him four on the game.
The start of the second half was almost a repeat of the first half. The Pride scored twelve of the first fourteen points and went up by ten, 49-39. But the Saints rallied, scoring the next eight points to cut the lead to two, 49-47. Siena would eventually take the lead, 59-57 with eight and a half minutes left. It looked like another game where Hofstra would have a second half lead only to see the other team rally and win.
In many of the Pride's close losses, they failed to make stops down the stretch. This time was different. Hofstra would outscore Siena 10-0 the rest of the way. The Pride forced two turnovers and held the Saints to four missed shots in the last several minutes. Siena didn't even try to put up a last second shot after Hofstra let the shot clock expire in the last few seconds. The fans gave the Pride a standing ovation at the end of their 81-69 win over the Saints.
Anosike had a double double with twenty two points and twelve rebounds. Kyle Downey added seventeen points. Siena shot fifty eight percent for the game and out-rebounded Hofstra 36-23. But the Pride forced twenty one Saints' turnovers and Hofstra shot eleven of twenty three from beyond the arc, easily their best three point shooting performance of the season. The bright side for Siena was neither Buonaguro, nor his wife were tossed from the game.
In 2006, the BracketBuster win over Siena started a six game winning streak for Hofstra that lasted through the CAA Championship game when they lost to UNCW. If the Pride keeps shooting the three like they did yesterday, the 2012 BracketBuster win over Siena might just start another win streak.