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Columnists | Message Board  | Daily Dribble

By Joe Welser

January 30th, 2006


Bracket Busters: Schedule & Commentary

The televised games for the ESPN/EBay sponsored BracketBusters event were announced today.  The thirteen games listed below will air on either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN360 (does that really even count as televised?) on February 17th or 18th. 
Due to an unbalance in teams obligated to play at home as opposed to on the road, many of the games ended lacking any juice.  There are however, some dandies, headlined by a pair of NCAA Tournament teasms: Bucknell at Northern Iowa.
BracketBusters Television Games
Bucknell at Northern Iowa
George Mason at Wichita State
Missouri State at Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Louisiana Tech at Southern Illinois
Buffalo at Iona
Fresno State at Creighton
Akron at Nevada
Butler at Kent State
Marist at Old Dominion
Northwestern State at Utah State
Samford at Ohio
Albany at Virginia Commonwealth
Northern Arizona at Western Kentucky
BracketBusters Commentary

Bucknell at Northern Iowa

The expected match-up came about with Bucknell taking a trip to the UNI-Dome.  This will be the premier game for BracketBusters and should provide some amusement.  Northern Iowa is all but in the NCAA Tournament, while Bucknell needs to avoid bad losses in order to earn an at-large berth.  A road loss at a top 25 team wonít hurt the Bison too much, but a win there would be huge.

George Mason at Wichita State

The Patriots are on fire, however this will be a tough game.  It will be an exciting frontcourt match-up between Jai Lewis and Will Thomas of George Mason and Paul Miller and Kyle Wilson of Wichita State.  The Shockers only home loss this season has come at the hands of Northern Iowa and George Mason isnít quite in that class.


Louisiana Tech at Southern Illinois


There isnít a Paul Millsap in the Missouri Valley.  The 6-8 forward will bring his 20.7 points and 12.7 rebounds to Southern Illinois.  If the Salukis can contain Millsap, especially on the glass, the home winning streak will continue.


Fresno State at Creighton


Yeah, itís a bad draw for Creighton.  Fresno State is 10-8, 3-4 in conference, soon to be 4-4 and well, Creighton is actually good.  This one might be over pretty quick, but Fresno State has a couple talented players in Quinton Hosley and JaíVance Coleman that are worth watching.  And if you havenít seen Creighton lately, they are always worth a look or two before you start filling in those brackets.


Missouri State and Wisconsin Milwaukee


Missouri Valley, Missouri Valley, Missouri Valley.  If you havenít had a chance to see much of the MVC, BracketBusters weekend will be your chance.  The five teams that are still dreaming of NCAA bids will be on TV.  Missouri State has been on a slide lately and they will have to get things together before taking a tough road trip to Milwaukee.  The Panthers could dash any hopes Missouri State may have left, and start thinking about an at-large themselves.


Buffalo at Iona


If anybody can stop the Iona backcourt of Steve Burtt, Jr. and Ricky Soliver, this will turn out to be a great game.  Buffalo has plenty of weapons, led by guard Calvin Cage and big man Yassin Idbihi, to keep the Bulls in it.  Many of the games look like blowouts due to the top heavy home sides, but this isnít one of them.


Butler at Kent State


Butler hasnít done much to deserve a televised game, but the friendly ghosts of the past made this game happen.  We have ourselves two teams that have made Cinderella runs in that not so distant past.  Kent has been extremely strong in MAC play and will be the favorite in this one.


Akron at Nevada


Now hereís a fun game.  Akron is quietly posting a 15-4 record, 8-1 in the MAC.  None of the wins are that impressive, but none of the losses are bad (at California, at Louisville, vs Clemson and at Ohio).  Nevada and Nick Fazekas will be too much for the Zips, but if it was in Akron, it would be another story.


Northwestern State at Utah State


The Demons finally get a chance to show off their stuff.  Unfortunately, they have to do it in one of the most unfriendly confines west of the mighty Mississippi.  Even with a loss at the hands of the Aggies, it is great exposure for Northwestern State.


Marist at Old Dominion


Marist might be under the radar, but the starting five has enough power to knock off ODU.  The bench depth is an issue, but if Alex Loughton and the Monarchs take one off their days off, the Red Foxes could chalk up a huge win for the Metro Atlantic.


Northern Arizona at Western Kentucky


Anthony Winchester and Courtney Lee wonít let the Hilltoppers lose to Northern Arizona.  The Lumberjacks have won nine in a row and are 7-0 in Big Sky, but they are lucky to be televised and definitely benefited from the weak teams on the away side of the bracket.


Samford at Ohio


Ohio and Leon Williams have lost all consistency over the last couple weeks.  Enter surprise OVC leader Samford and we could have a surprisingly close game.  If Ohio has a good day, Samford wonít last long, but J. Robert Merritt and Randall Gulina will have something to say about that.


Albany at VCU


Albany, the preseason favorite in the America East, had a slow start before winning 10 of their last 12.  VCU and the Colonial Athletic Association could use every win they can get, and VCU just doesnít lose at home.




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