Bracket Brief: Last dance for BracketBusters
It's BracketBusters weekend in college basketball and this is the time for the mid-majors to make some headlines. Unfortunately, this year's edition will be the last of the ESPN-created event, which was designed to showcase mid-major schools that had a chance of making the NCAA Tournament. Over the last 11 years the profiles of several middies has risen, even to the point where some (like Butler and VCU) aren't even in mid-major conferences anymore. So give ESPN credit for creating something that actually did what it was supposed to do.
However, due to the ever-changing landscape of conference realignment the mid-majors have been pushed back to the periphery of the tournament dance floor. There are few legit mid-major tourney teams this year (I don't consider either the Atlantic 10 or the Mountain West as mid-majors.) Gonzaga is a lock and the WCC is likely a two-bid league. The Missouri Valley should also have two bids. But that's about it. With the aforementioned Butler and VCU joining the Atlantic 10 the Horizon League and the Colonial are back to being one-bid conferences. As such, there are very few bubble teams participating in BracketBusters this year and the thrill of the weekend just isn't there anymore.
But there's still a few teams to put on your radar. The weekend tips off tonight with a pair of games: North Dakota State-Akron and Stephen F. Austin-Long Beach State. Akron is tearing through the MAC, having not lost since December 15. With 17 wins in a row the Zips are tied with Memphis for the longest active winning streak in the country. Stephen F. Austin is another intriguing team. The Lumberjacks don't have a strong enough RPI of strength of schedule to warrant an at-large bid but they're 22-3 and have a road win over Oklahoma. Should Stephen F. Austin grab the automatic bid from the Southland they could be a fourteen seed and one worthy of pulling off a second round upset.