I try my best to write about topics without being influenced by large media outlets. One way I do this is to delay reading content online until after I've blogged about what I'm going to say. Unfortunately, when I learned the Bracket Buster pairings were announced, I pounced at the insight on ESPN.com. Luckily I don't agree with 100% of what they have to say so I still have something to blog about. If you want to refresh your memory on where some of these teams stand read my conference breakdown from a couple of weeks ago. Since the Pac 10 is apparently the gift that keeps on giving several of these outcomes will influence the selection committee. I've ranked the games in order from most significant to least significant.
1. Siena @ Butler: This is the marquee game for the Bracket Busters. Butler is a lock for the tournament but Siena needs a boost. They will likely win their conference tournament but lack any significant road wins. If they win at Butler they'll kill two birds with one stone. I'm going to hide the remote so I can see this one.
2. Old Dominion @ Northern Iowa: Northern Iowa sorta got the shaft on this one. Since they've already played Siena this season they can't play them for the Bracket Buster. I don't know all the rules but I would've liked to have seen them at Butler. As it is this should be a pretty good game. Expect a Wisconsin-esque score in this one as these two teams play excellent defense and like to slow the tempo. This game means more to ODU. I don't think they have to win necessarily, but if it's really close they could still sneak in as an at-large team.
3. Morgan State @ Murray State: Both of these teams are undefeated in conference play. Morgan State's best win this year was at Arkansas whereas Murray State's is probably Morehead State. Still, I think Murray State is the better team and I won't be surprised if they win by eight or more.
4. William & Mary at Iona: William and Mary get screwed here. As a legit bubble team you'd hope for another opponent on the bubble. Unfortunately that's not the case. Ion has won seven in a row but it's a little late for them to enter the bubble picture. A win for W&M doesn't help much as they already have road wins over good ACC schools Wake Forest and Maryland. A loss, however, could could pop their bubble.
5. Wichita St. @ Utah St.: Wichita St. is firmly on the NCAA bubble. Barring a conference tournament surprise, if the MVC is to get two bids it's going to be from Wichita St. Going on the road to Utah St. is not easy. Utah St. is one of the only two schools to defeat BYU this season and is a WAC powerhouse. Unlike last season Utah St. is not on the bubble and I don't really know what they can gain by winning this game besides receiving a 13 seed instead of a 14 when the NCAA tournament pairings are announced. For Wichita St. this game is do or die.
6. Akron @ Virginia Commonwealth: Akron is likely the only team that can challenge Kent State in the MAC. VCU is really playing well and a win here might boost their stock just enough to get in on Selection Sunday.
7. Western Carolina @ Kent State: WCU defeated Louisville very early in the season but this team is weakly on the bubble. Kent State is the best team in the MAC in my opinion so this could be a decent measure of where they stand against another decent school since the competition in the MAC is really mediocre.
8. Louisiana Tech @ Northeastern: Northeastern has been coming on strong of late and now sit at 14-8 after starting 2-7. The Colonial is no slouch this year so if they can keep winning they may be earn an at-large bid. LaTech is trying to cement it's spot atop the WAC. While they likely aren't a bubble team this game will have an impact on their seed if they win their conference tournament.
9. College of Charleston @ George Mason: George Mason is 10-1 in conference play. Pretty ridiculous considering I just talked up the Colonial Athletic Association as being no slouch. I don't consider them a bubble team though I could see why others would if they continue their hot play against conference opponents. CofC is a virtual lock to win their tournament. Little drama here.
10. New Mexico St. @ Pacific: NMSU is tied for first in the WAC with Utah St. and Louisiana Tech. Still, their resume's a little weak to be considered a bubble team. Pacific is the class of the Big West. Yeah, that's not saying much.
11. Nevada @ Missouri St.: I like Missouri St. I root for them to do well because their coach is former Purdue great Cuonzo Martin. When they started off 10-0 I was pumped and thought good things were coming. Sadly that was pretty much the end of the good times for the Bears. Nevada's 5-3 in the WAC but that's not going to cut it. Even the networks must see this game as a dud because it's the only Bracket Buster without a TV spot.