ESPN BracketBusters: 11 Games, Teams from 13 Conferences
Pairings for the ninth annual BracketBusters – a three-day men’s college basketball event pitting NCAA Championship hopefuls Friday, Feb. 18 - Sunday, Feb. 20 – were announced live on ESPNU’s 2011 BracketBusters Selection Show tonight, Monday, Jan. 31. The field features No. 21 Utah State in addition to seven teams receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
BracketBusters will feature 11 nationally televised games over three days, selected from a 114 eligible teams – the largest pool in the event’s history. ESPNU and ESPN2 will each air five games; all ESPN2 contests will be simulcast on ESPN3.com. The Feb. 20 game with two teams ranked in the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) top 31 – No. 29 Cleveland State at No. 31 Old Dominion at 1 p.m. will air either on ESPN or ESPN2 (determined approximately one week before the game).
No. 21 nationally ranked Utah State will play at St. Mary’s (CA), who dropped out of the top 25 this week, Saturday, Feb. 19, at 9 pm. ET on ESPN2. Other anticipated matchups include Virginia Commonwealth at Wichita State on Friday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and Missouri State at Valparaiso on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 5 p.m. on ESPN2.
This year’s BracketBusters pool consists of teams from 13 conferences, including five from the Colonial Athletic Association, three apiece from the Horizon League and Missouri Valley Conference and two from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Highlights:
- Utah State is ranked No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll;
- Seven teams are receiving votes in the coaches poll – Cleveland State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, St. Mary’s (CA), Valparaiso, Virginia Commonwealth and Wichita State;
- 17 of the 22 teams are ranked in the top 100 of the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI): Cleveland State (29); Utah State (30); Old Dominion (31); George Mason (33); St. Mary’s (CA) (34); Missouri State (45); Wichita State (49); Virginia Commonwealth (51); Drexel (53); Northern Iowa (54); Valparaiso (55); Kent State (78); Vermont (85); Montana (94); College of Charleston (95); Hofstra (96) and Wright State (99);
- 12 teams have 15 or more wins against Division I competition: Cleveland State; College of Charleston; Fairfield; George Mason; Missouri State; Northern Iowa; Old Dominion; St. Mary’s (CA); Utah State; Vermont; Virginia Commonwealth and Wichita State;
- Utah State is one of only nine teams nationally to reach the 20-win plateau this season and the only team in the pool to own an undefeated record in conference play;
- Five 2010 NCAA Championship participants: Montana; Northern Iowa; St. Mary’s (CA); Utah State and Vermont.
2011 BracketBusters Schedule (All times are Eastern and are subject to change)
|Fri, Feb 18||7 p.m.||Virginia Commonwealth at Wichita State||ESPN2|
|9 p.m.||Kent State at Drexel||ESPNU|
|Sat, 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|
|5 p.m.||Vermont at College of Charleston||ESPNU|
|7 p.m.||George Mason at Northern Iowa||ESPN2|
|9 p.m.||No. 21 Utah State at St. Mary’s (CA)||ESPN2|
|11 p.m.||Montana at Long Beach State||ESPN2|
|Sun, Feb 20||1 p.m.||Cleveland State at Old Dominion||ESPN or ESPN2|
BracketBusters in NCAA Championship play from 2006-10:
2010 NCAA Championship: 11 berths – Morgan State, Murray State, New Mexico State, Northern Iowa, Ohio, Old Dominion, Siena, Utah State, UC-Santa Barbara, Vermont, Winthrop. Five wins overall: Murray State defeated Vanderbilt; Northern Iowa defeated UNLV and Kansas; Ohio defeated Georgetown; and Old Dominion defeated Notre Dame.
2009 NCAA Championship: 12 berths – Akron, Butler, Cal State Northridge, Cleveland State, Morehead State, Morgan State, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Portland State, Siena, Utah State, and Virginia Commonwealth. Three wins overall: Cleveland State defeated Wake Forest; Morehead State defeated Alabama State and Siena beat Ohio State.
2008 NCAA Championship: 15 Berths - Austin Peay, Boise State, Butler, Cal State-Fullerton, Davidson, Drake, George Mason, Kent State, Oral Roberts, Portland State, Saint Mary’s, San Diego, Siena, UMBC and Winthrop. Six wins overall: Davidson defeated Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin to reach the Elite Eight; Butler defeated South Alabama; Siena defeated Vanderbilt; and San Diego defeated Connecticut.
2007 NCAA Championship: 17 Berths - Albany, Butler, Creighton, Davidson, Eastern Kentucky, Holy Cross, Long Beach State, Miami (Ohio), Nevada, New Mexico State, Niagara, Old Dominion, Oral Roberts, Southern Illinois, Virginia Commonwealth, Winthrop and Wright State. Seven wins overall: Butler defeated Old Dominion and Maryland to reach the Sweet Sixteen; Southern Illinois defeated Holy Cross and Virginia Tech to reach the Sweet Sixteen; Nevada defeated Creighton; Virginia Commonwealth defeated Duke; and Winthrop defeated Notre Dame.
2006 NCAA Championship: 19 Berths - Albany, Bradley, Bucknell, George Mason, Iona, Kent State, Montana, Murray State, Nevada, UNC-Wilmington, Northern Iowa, Northwestern State, Pacific, Oral Roberts, Utah State, Southern Illinois, UW-Milwaukee, Winthrop and Wichita State. Twelve wins overall: Bradley defeated Kansas and Pittsburgh to reach the Sweet Sixteen; Bucknell defeated Arkansas; George Mason defeated Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut to reach the Final Four; Montana defeated Nevada; Northwestern State defeated Iowa; UW-Milwaukee defeated Oklahoma; and Wichita State defeated Seton Hall and Tennessee to reach the Sweet Sixteen.
The BracketBusters concept, named because of the success of participating teams from these conferences in NCAA Tournament play through the years, provides programs with an opportunity to play top non-conference opponents roughly three weeks before Selection Sunday. Each conference selects its participating teams before the season, and the matchups for the event are determined by ESPN in conjunction with the conferences. BracketBusters is an example of ESPN college basketball franchise programming. Others include Rivalry Week Presented by Cisco, Feast Week Presented by Lowe’s, Holiday Hoops Presented by Kay Jewelers and Judgment Week and Championship Week Presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.