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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bracket Buster Weekend 2012

BracketBuster weekend provides an opportunity that many Mid-majors would be without otherwise.  
Notching another key win to impress the selection committee can go a long way on Selection Sunday.  These matchups also provide a chance for us to compare conferences; to see how one conference stacks up with another.  This may not matter in the case of the fifth place MVC team vs. the fifth place Horizon team but it does for second and third place teams fighting for bubble spots.  
VCU kicked off the weekend by kicking Northern Iowa around.  UNI was starting to play better of late and a win there could really have gone a long way.  VCU brings some credibility back to the Colonial, a league that has taken some criticism this season for not performing as well as it had the past few seasons.
With the good, there's also the bad.  Several schools have tenuous position on the bubble and a bad loss not only knocks them off but permanently pops their chances at securing an at-large bid.  Still, this is an exciting weekend that every college basketball fan should enjoy.
Below I've previewed the five games I'm looking the most forward to on Saturday and Sunday.  

1. St. Mary's (23-4) @ Murray St. (25-1)
Murray State's loss to Tennessee St. last week takes some luster off what would have been the most hyped game of the weekend.  St. Mary's is the best team in the WCC and would like to make a statement on the road while Murray St. is running away with the Ohio Valley.
Who gains more with win: Murray St. - Their best win is currently a win over Memphis which isn't quite enough when building a case for a mid-level seed from a small conference.
Who loses most with loss: Murray St.- Losing this game will raise some doubts with the committee about how good this team is.  At the very least it needs to be close or the Racers could find themselves with a ten seed or worse in March.
Who wins: St. Mary's 74-69.

2. Wichita St. (23-4) @ Davidson (20-6)
Davidson really opened some eyes with their win over Kansas in December. Wichita St. just beat three of the top teams in the Valley.
Who gains more with win: Wichita St. - If they continue like this they'll earn a nice seed in March.
Who loses most with loss: Davidson - The Wildcats needs this one if their win over Kansas isn't to look like a fluke.
Who wins: Wichita St. attacks the basket better than most teams and it will cause Davidson to get into foul trouble. Shockers win 82-65.

3. Long Beach St. (19-6) @ Creighton (22-5)
LBSU played possibly the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation this year but hasn't walked away with much more than a boost in RPI.  Creighton lost three in a row before beating Southern Illinois last week.  
Who gains more with win: Long Beach St. - A big road win is just what this team needs
Who loses most with loss: Creighton - They're at home and they need to notch another decent win to help erase the memory of their losing streak. A loss here may lead the committee to believe this team already peaked and is on the way down.
Who wins: Home court advantage helps the Bluejays prevail 78-72.

4. Nevada (22-4) @ Iona (21-6)
Nevada's 10-1 in the WAC and looks to slow down the Gaels quick tempo.  Iona has scored 100 points four times this season but lacks a signature win.  The guard play here makes this game one to watch.
Who gains more with win: Iona - A win improves their bubble position dramatically.
Who loses most with loss: Iona - Nevada's likely in either way so Iona needs to take care of business.
Who wins: Iona 80-70.

5. Drexel (22-5) @ Cleveland St. (20-7)
Drexel has won 14 in a row and currently sits atop the CAA standings.  Cleveland St.'s three game losing streak comes at the worst possible time as they've gone from frontrunners to a crowded second place in the Horizon League.
Who gains more with win: Drexel - A win here locks up an at-large bid.
Who loses most with loss: Cleveland St. - A win here and all is not lost for an at-large bid. A loss and they'll need to win the conference tournament for a chance in March.
Who wins: Drexel is on fire and gets it done 63-57.
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