Friday, February 17, 2006

Bracket Buster Teaser

I'm completely torn on the bracket buster. I love the fact that it focuses the attention of the college basketball world on some very talented teams that often fly below the radar (including the four in action tonight). I don't like the fact that this year, it's absolutley enormous - way too big to be meaningful for many of the teams involved. Also, I don't like the fact generally that gimmicks like this are necessary (possibly indispensable) for some very good teams to get a tournament bid. In fact, the brakcet buster almost seems like a play-in game for many of the teams involved - at-large chances for several teams may very well hinge on the outcomes of their games this weekend. But I suppose that's just the way the NCAA works... on to tonight's two games:

Akron at Nevada - The Pack are mid-major darlings from last year, and after some early season conference hiccoughs, has taken control of the WAC. The Zips have been a big surprise in the MAC this year, and have shown that the St. Vincent-St. Marys high school teams weren't all Lebron, all the time - Romeo Travis and Dru Joyce, two of LBJ's old teammates, have been having fantastic seasons. Travis and Nick Fazekas of Nevada will be one heck of a matchup - easily one of the best one-on-one's in the bracket buster. Nevada has the homecourt and big game experience, and better overall talent. Still, this one should be close and competitive the whole way through.

Albany at VCU - The Great Danes profited from some off-season departures in the AEC - the graduations of Taylor Coppenrath and TJ Sorrentine from Vermont, and the Northeastern Huskies switching to the Colonial Athletic Association. The team that made one of the biggest turnarounds in the country a season ago became the preseason favorites in the conference, and so far have lived up to that billing (only the Binghamton Bearcats seem to stand in their way). The big reason why is Jamar Wilson - 2nd in the conference in scoring, 4th in assists, 6th in steals, 15th in rebounding (he's 6'1" by the way), and 4th in PPWS. VCU has been one of the teams floating around the top of the CAA all year, but really had any chance at an at large vanish with a loss to Towson this week. Nick George and Jesse Pellot-Rosa have been having great seasons, and both create serious matchup problems for the Danes. A lot of people will point to this game as an example of why the bracket buster is too big this year - neither Albany nor VCU has a shot at an at large, so it's essentially a glorified exhibition game. Nonetheless, it should be a close game, with the Rams pulling away at the end.

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