Like most dedicated sports fans I have my issues with ESPN (I'm sorry Dick, I didn't realize it was going to be this big a deal), but I will forever sing their praises when it comes to what they've done for mid-level college basketball.
They have special segments during their recap shows dedicated to mid-majors, they carry a lot of conference games during the season now, and they've done something that 10 years ago I would have said was impossible: they've made me love Championship Week just as much as the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
The most recent breakthrough in the Mid-Major revolution has been the creation of the BracketBuster matchups, pitting top mid-majors from different conferences against each other with solid NCAA Tournament resume-building wins on the line.
The world wide leader released this year's BracketBuster matchups on Monday night, and there are several matchups that will have hoops junkies all over the country tuning in.
As expected, ESPN made the logical choice and went with Southern Illinois/Butler as the headliner. They've also decided keep most of the more high-profile teams at home, perhaps giving some of teams on the outside looking in right now one final shot to pick up a big victory away from their undersized homes.
Here's the rest of the lineup ranked in order from most to least exciting (in my opinion, which of course is the only opinion).
- 2/17: Southern Illinois at Butler
- 2/16: Winthrop at Missouri State
- 2/17: Bradley at VCU
- 2/17: Northern Iowa at Nevada
- 2/17: Holy Cross at Hofstra
- 2/17: Drexel at Creighton
- 2/17: Ohio at New Mexico State
- 2/17: Cal State Fullerton at Wright State
- 2/17: Appalachian State at Wichita State
- 2/16: Albany at Boise State
- 2/17: Austin Peay at Akron
- 2/17: Utah State at Oral Roberts
- 2/17: Old Dominion at Toledo
- 2/17: Kent State at George Mason