NCAA BracketBuster Weekend in Review: Who Won and Lost Mid-Major Battles?
Mid-major, non-conference play is now over. The BracketBusters games have wrapped up. Over the weekend, many mid-major teams with a lot at stake in terms of postseason tournaments matched up. Now that all of those games are said and done, here are the conferences that benefited and suffered as a whole from BracketBusters, and the teams that won and lost from their performances over the weekend.
Winning conferences are defined as those with winning records, losing conference are those with losing records. For the conferences that had an even number of wins and losses in the BracketBusters games, they will divided into the winners and losers based on my discretion.
Breakdown by conference
America East, 1-4
Big Sky, 4-4
Big South, 1-8
Big West, 1-8
Those Who Gained
VCU is definitely going to one of the four postseason tournaments. However, this win at Wichita State improved their résumé for the NCAA Tournament. With a strong finish to the season for the Rams, the CAA could become a three-bid league this year.
Fairfield remains one of the quieter treasures in college basketball. The Stags' one big-time non-conference game against Florida was cancelled due to monster snowstorms in the Northeast. On Saturday, Fairfield got some attention on national television with a win over Austin Peay. The Stags have already locked up at least a bid to the NIT, but this win gives the Stags a chance to improve their NCAA Tournament seeding if they win the MAAC tournament.
Charleston kept its winning streak going with a win over Vermont on Saturday. Considering that win as a quality one since Vermont is in the top 75 RPI, Charleston's potential seeding in the NCAA Tournament is much improved.
Utah State kept its hopes for being a favored seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament alive with a win over St. Mary's during BracketBusters Weekend. This gave Utah State its first win over an ESPN/USA Today top-25 team. A key win for the Aggies was lacking up until Saturday.
Old Dominion proved why it is a mid-major powerhouse on national television this weekend. Although the final score shows a relatively close game between Cleveland State and the Monarchs, the Monarchs dominated the Vikings, especially in the second half. With the win over Cleveland State, they just about guarantee themselves an at-large bid even if they lose in the CAA tournament.
Another school from the CAA, George Mason also made itself a practical lock for the NCAA Tournament. The Patriots kept the longest winning streak in the nation going with a win at Northern Iowa. With that win, the Patriots also moved into the top 20 RPI rankings.
Those Who Lost
Montana is still the favorite to get the Big Sky's bid to the NCAA Tournament, but the Grizzlies have no chance at getting a good seeding after losing to Long Beach State on Saturday. The highest seeding they can now get would be a No. 15 seed.
Liberty missed out on two chances to beat mid-major powerhouse Coastal Carolina during conference play. Both times, Liberty had a chance to pick up a key win against the Chanticleers, but the Flames failed to come through in the final minutes. They had one last chance to pick up a key win in the regular season, but the Flames were blown out by Iona on their home floor.
Hofstra hit a rough spot in January after a hot start to their CAA season. Recently, the Pride had been getting its groove back. The Pride had a chance to get a good non-conference win at Wright State on Saturday, but the Pride ended up being blown out.
Cleveland State can no longer feel too comfortable with its chances at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Vikings could have practically clinched a bid to the NCAA Tournament at Old Dominion on Sunday, but they fell to the Monarchs by a score of 74-63. No matter how the end of the regular season plays out, the Vikings might be in need of a Horizon League tournament championship to make the Big Dance.
Wichita State is another team whose at-large chances could very well have been crushed in a loss on Friday night. In my opinion, the Shockers have to beat both Creighton and Missouri State to end the regular season in order to make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team.
St. Mary's looked to rebound from a bad loss to San Diego earlier in the week. However, the Gaels could not hold on to a halftime lead and lost at home to Utah State. The Gaels are still a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but they can no longer get as a high a seeding as they might have been hoping for.
Most impressive performance by a conference:
This honor goes to both the CAA and the MAAC. The top teams in the CAA beat some really good mid-major squads, but it is impossible to ignore the MAAC's 9-1 record.
Without a doubt, the CAA proved that it is the top mid-major conference in 2010-11. Five of the top six teams in the conference won in their BracketBusters matchups.
For the MAAC, the teams in that conference must have just been feeling it on Saturday. In what was supposed to be a down year for the conference, the MAAC came through big on BracketBusters Weekend. The only MAAC team to lose was Canisius, which fell to red-hot Boston University on the road.
Most impressive performance by a single team:
Old Dominion was definitely the most impressive team over BracketBusters Weekend. The Monarchs played very strong defense throughout the game against Cleveland State, and they absolutely dominated the boards. After allowing 24 points by Norris Cole in the first half, they held Cole to only 11 points in the second half. The Monarchs outrebounded Cleveland State 53-25.
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