The 10 BracketBuster Games You Don’t Want to Miss

Posted by KDoyle on February 1st, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC Contributor.  His weekly column, The Other 26, explores the minutiae of the twenty-six Division I conferences outside the BCS sextet. 

One of the best weekends of the year prior to Championship Week and, of course, the NCAA Tournament, is when the BracketBusters are played. It provides a nice break from conference play, and some of the top mid-major teams in the country have an opportunity to strut their stuff, build up that all-important resume, and have a last opportunity of picking up a quality non-conference victory. Because many of the top games are televised, it is also a great chance for all you guys out there that solely pay attention to the BCS teams around the country to gain some insight of who may have a shot at upsetting a higher seed and advancing a round or two when filling out your Tournament bracket next month. Here are my top 10 BracketBuster game, from tenth to first:

10.   Kent State at Drexel—February 18, 9PM (ESPNU)

Neither team is in the running for an at-large bid, but obtaining additional confidence heading into their respective conference tournaments is what both will play for. Drexel is just a step below the top teams in the CAA, while Kent State is right in the mix for the MAC crown as there has not been one team that has truly distinguished themselves. The Flashes, led by Justin Greene’s 16 points and 7.5 boards a night, are one of the more balanced teams in the MAC as five players average nine points or more. Chris Fouch, arguably Drexel’s top player, will really test Kent State’s backcourt.

9.   Austin Peay at Fairfield—February 19, 1PM (ESPNU)

Fairfield has been flying under the radar playing in the MAAC this year—not as much attention has been given to the league due to Siena’s return to mediocrity after a great run under Fran McCaffery—and they are one of the hottest teams in the nation. Aside from a tough one point loss at Loyola (MD) in mid-January, Fairfield has not lost since November 23 against St. Joseph’s. They are currently the favorite to win the MAAC, but there are a host of teams nipping at their heels. The Stags will take on an Austin Peay squad that sits atop their league—the Ohio Valley Conference—as well. The game will feature two of the better point guards in the land of mid-majors as Derek Needham for Fairfield averages 14 points and 5 assists, and Caleb Brown for Austin Peay is second in the OVC in assists.

8.   Hofstra at Wright State—February 19, 11AM (ESPNU)

Hofstra and Wright State are both teetering on the edge of becoming legitimate contenders in their respective leagues. The Pride got out to a quick 5-0 start in the CAA, but have gone 3-3 in their last six to fall behind Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason. In the crazy Horizon League this year, it is anyone’s best guess who will be the last one standing. Cleveland State with Norris Cole looks to be the current favorite, but Wright State is not far behind. The storyline for this game will undoubtedly revolve around Charles Jenkins who has a legitimate shot of hearing his name called by David Stern on NBA Draft night, but don’t be surprised if Vaughn Duggins for Wright State steals the show. The fifth-year senior has scored in double figures in every game save two, and is the fourth leading scorer in the Horizon League.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Conference Primers: #11 – Colonial

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 26th, 2010

Alex Varone is the RTC Correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association and the MAC.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Old Dominion (15-3)
  2. VCU (14-4)
  3. George Mason (13-5)
  4. Hofstra (11-7)
  5. James Madison (10-8)
  6. William & Mary (9-9)
  7. Northeastern (8-10)
  8. Delaware (8-10)
  9. Towson (8-10)
  10. Drexel (6-12)
  11. UNC Wilmington (3-15)
  12. Georgia State (3-15)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Charles Jenkins (G) - Hofstra (20.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.8 SPG)
  • Chaisson Allen (G) - Northeastern (13.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.6 APG)
  • Joey Rodriguez (G) - VCU (12.9 PPG, 5.8 APG, 1.9 SPG)
  • Frank Hassell (F) - Old Dominion (9.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG)
  • Denzel Bowles (F) - James Madison (20.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG)

Sixth Man

Cam Long (G) - George Mason (12.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.3 SPG)

Impact Newcomer

Mike Moore – Hofstra

While Blaine Taylor and ODU are the early favorites in the CAA, they can also do damage against quality non-conference opponents.

What You Need to Know

  • A league record six CAA teams made the postseason last year. For the conference to match that number this season, squads such as Northeastern and William & Mary will need to retool on the fly after suffering heavy losses, and up-and-comers such as James Madison and Delaware will need to take a big step forward in 2011.
  • The aforementioned James Madison Dukes and Delaware Blue Hens both lost at least 20 games in 2009-10 and combined to win just seven conference games, but hopes are high for both programs. James Madison has the most explosive offensive duo in the CAA with Texas A&M transfer Denzel Bowles and Julius Wells, both of whom averaged over 15 PPG last year. Delaware returns its top seven scorers, including an explosive duo in its own right with seniors Jawan Carter and Alphonso Dawson.
  • The predicted struggles of UNC Wilmington and Georgia State could end up costing the Colonial Athletic Association an NCAA Tournament berth in March. Both teams had a final RPI in the mid-200s last season and neither team should be much improved this season. The Colonial desperately needs its bottom-level teams to avoid dragging down the conference’s overall RPI in order to successfully secure two NCAA Tournament bids.

Predicted Champion

Old Dominion (NCAA Seed #9) – The CAA’s defending champions have the potential to be even better this season with four starters returning, including senior forward Frank Hassell and breakout candidate Kent Bazemore. Even with the loss of leading scorer Gerald Lee, Old Dominion is still a physical team that wins with defense under coach Blaine Taylor, who has led the Monarchs to seven straight winning seasons and six straight postseason appearances. This year should be no different. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story