ESPN released the pairings for this year's BracketBusters event. Here's a link to the full list of games and a look at the five most intriguing nationally televised matchups.
Comment: These two met in Moraga two years ago with the Gaels emerging with a crucial victory. If history repeats itself, that could mean Utah State (20-2, 9-0) would need to win the WAC tournament to earn an invitation to March Madness. The only other two top 100 RPI opponents Utah State faced this season were BYU and Georgetown, and the Aggies dropped both games.
Comment: Both Virginia Commonwealth (18-5, 10-1) and Wichita State (17-4, 9-2) are in contention for league titles and at-large NCAA tournament berths, but this game is probably more important to the Shockers. They've already lost to San Diego State and UConn, making this game a final opportunity at a marquee non-conference victory to impress the selection committee.
Comment: While both Cleveland State and Old Dominion are contending in the Horizon and CAA respectively and could earn at-large NCAA tourney berths, the most exciting aspect of this game is the presence of two elite guards. Cleveland State's Norris Cole is one of the Midwest's top combo guards, while Old Dominion wing Kent Bazemore is a high flyer and a strong defender.
Comment: Tough luck for Missouri State, which really needed an opponent with a better profile than Horizon League contender Valparaiso to have an opportunity to boost its at-large hopes. A road win won't get the Bears (17-5, 9-2) into the NCAA tournament, but a loss might make winning Arch Madness a necessity to earn a bid.
Comment: Neither Northern Iowa nor George Mason accomplished enough in non-league play to truly contend for an NCAA tournament berth, so this matchup of traditionally strong mid-majors isn't as good as it could be. The winner could still have a glimmer of at-large hope, while the loser will have to win its conference tournament.
- Cleveland State