Aug. 22, 2006
The fifth annual BracketBusters event, a two-day men's college basketball extravaganza pitting potential NCAA Tournament hopefuls against each other on February 16-17, will feature 13 nationally televised games selected from an expanded pool of 102 teams. The field is highlighted by the return of last year's BracketBusters participants George Mason and Wichita State, a Final Four and Sweet Sixteen team, respectively, who met in last year's event and the NCAA Tournament. Last year's field included a potential 100 teams (vying for 13 BracketBusters games), while the 2005 event featured 64 teams (vying for 11 BracketBusters games).
"We are very proud to participate in this year's BracketBusters event," said Dons' head coach Jessie Evans. "It is the first time for us and we are looking forward to it. We are very happy to be hosting a game, as right now it is very difficult to schedule quality home contests. Hopefully, we will be playing well when they make the selections and we will be rewarded with a quality game, and maybe be on national TV."
For the second consecutive year, the event will feature five BracketBusters games exclusively on ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network, and two on ESPN360, ESPN's customized broadband service. ESPN2 will televise six contests. The 13 BracketBusters matchups will be announced January 29, while game time and network assignments will be announced February 5.
BracketBusters, named because of the success of the teams in NCAA Tournament play over the past few years, will provide the 26 televised teams an opportunity to play other top non-conference opponents three weeks prior to Selection Sunday. The 76 teams not selected for BracketBusters will compete against each other over the same two days.
The 102-team field will feature 12 teams from the Mid-American Conference and Colonial Athletic; 11 from the Ohio Valley Conference; 10 from the Missouri Valley and Metro Atlantic Athletic; nine from the Western Athletic Conference and Horizon League; eight from the Big West; four the Big Sky and Southern; three from the Big South and Patriot; two from the America East, Mid-Continent and Southland; and San Francisco from the West Coast Conference.
As part of the agreement, all 13 of the BracketBusters home teams, as well as the remaining 38 home squads, will play a "return" game at the home facility of their opponent in November or December of the following season.
BracketBusters is an example of ESPN college basketball franchise programming. Others include Rivalry Week, Feast Week, Holiday Hoops, Judgment Week and Championship Week.
This year's BracketBusters pool features teams with 70 appearances in the last five NCAA Tournaments, including a team in the Final Four - George Mason (2006); Elite Eight - Kent State (2002); and six Sweet Sixteen squads - Bradley (2006), Wichita State (2006), UW-Milwaukee (2005), Nevada (2004), Butler (2003) and Southern Illinois (2002).
West Coast: San Francisco
Mid-American: Akron; Buffalo; Eastern Michigan; Northern Illinois; Toledo, Western MichiganOhio Valley: Morehead State; Tennessee-Martin; Samford; Southeast Missouri State; Tennessee State;Tennessee TechMissouri Valley: Creighton; Drake; Illinois State; Indiana State; Missouri State; Wichita StateMetro Atlantic Athletic: Fairfield; Marist; Niagara; Rider; Siena Horizon: Butler; Illinois-Chicago; Loyola (Illinois); Wright State; Youngstown State Western Athletic: Boise State; Fresno State; Idaho; Nevada; New Mexico StateBig West: Cal Poly; Long Beach State; Cal-State Northridge; UC Santa BarbaraColonial Athletic: Delaware; George Mason; Georgia State; Hofstra; Northeastern; Virginia CommonwealthBig Sky: Montana; Northern ArizonaBig South: Coastal Carolina Mid-Continent: Oral Roberts Southern: Tennessee-Chattanooga; UNC GreensboroPatriot: Bucknell
Mid-American: Ball State; Bowling Green; Central Michigan; Kent State; Miami (Ohio); Ohio Ohio Valley: Austin Peay; Eastern Illinois; Eastern Kentucky; Jacksonville State; Murray State Missouri Valley: Bradley; Evansville; Northern Iowa; Southern Illinois Metro Atlantic Athletic: Canisius; Iona; Loyola (Maryland); Manhattan; Saint Peter's Horizon: Cleveland State; Detroit; Wisconsin-Green Bay; Wisconsin-Milwaukee Western Athletic: Hawaii; Louisiana Tech; San Jose State; Utah State Big West: UC Irvine; Pacific; UC Riverside; CS-Fullerton Colonial Athletic: Drexel; James Madison; UNC-Wilmington; Old Dominion; Towson; William & Mary Big Sky: Portland State; Eastern Washington Big South: Winthrop; Liberty America East: Albany; Maine Mid-Continent: Valparaiso; Valparaiso Southern: Elon; Appalachian State Southland: Northwestern State; Sam Houston State Patriot: Colgate; Holy Cross