The March To March: Bring Back BracketBusters

Philadelphia, PA ( - BracketBusters was a great concept, so why was it ever scrapped?

Can we please bring it back?

The annual two-day event was held for the final time in February 2013 after an 11-year run. BracketBusters provided an opportunity for schools from non-power conferences to enhance their resume and gain national TV exposure. It also gave the college basketball fan a chance to watch teams they'd normally not see on a day-to-day basis.

And for schools with resumes already good enough to warrant an NCAA Tournament bid, it provided them a stiff test they normally might not see in conference play.

The games were determined in January based on competitive matchups and RPI ratings.

George Mason and VCU's respective runs to the Final Four may have never happened had it not been for road wins at Wichita State during BracketBusters.

The Colonials received a No. 11 seed in the 2006 Big Dance and were a controversial at-large selection after losing in the semifinals of the CAA Tournament to Hofstra. Another reason for the skepticism was the suspension of senior guard Tony Skinn, who punched the Pride's Loren Stokes in the groin during that loss. Skinn averaged 12.9 points per game during the regular season.

Instead, George Mason made the selection committee look like geniuses, defeating two Final Four participants from the year before in North Carolina and Michigan State, then topping Wichita State again and top-seeded Connecticut.

The Rams received an at-large bid in 2011, the first year the NCAA Tournament expanded from 65 teams to 68. The magical five-game run included a victory against top-seeded Kansas in the regional final.

Since the tourney expanded, half of the 16 at-large selections participating in the first round have been mid-major schools. But last year, when there wasn't a BracketBusters, all of the at-large picks were teams from power conferences.

Iona was aided in 2013 when it beat Nevada in BracketBusters and snuck into the field as a No. 14 seed, although the Gaels lost to BYU in the first round.

The one school that may disagree with the concept is Drexel. The Dragons, who won at Cleveland State during the 2013 BracketBusters, were kept out of the 2013 tourney despite finishing with a 27-6 record and a 16-2 mark in the CAA.

There are many schools this season that could've used BracketBusters to improve their resume in case they can't win their conference tournaments. Teams like Wofford, Iona, Harvard, Murray State, Buffalo, Stephen F. Austin Valparaiso and Green Bay immediately come to mind.

That extra top-50 or top-100 win can really make the difference between playing in the NCAAs as opposed to the NIT.


MIDWEST (Cleveland)

1. Kentucky* vs. 16. Sacramento State*/Texas Southern* winner

8. San Diego State* vs. 9. Cincinnati

4. North Carolina vs. 13. Valparaiso*

5. Baylor vs. 12. Iona*

6. Providence vs. 11. Texas A&M

3. Notre Dame vs. 14. South Dakota State*

7. Indiana vs. 10. Dayton

2. Kansas* vs. 15. Florida Gulf Coast*

SOUTH (Houston)

1. Duke vs. 16. Albany*

8. Xavier vs. 9. Iowa

4. Oklahoma vs. 13. UC Davis*

5. Wichita State vs. 12. Harvard

6. VCU* vs. 11. NC State

3. Maryland vs. 14. Toledo*

7. Oklahoma State vs. 10. LSU

2. Villanova* vs. 15. North Carolina Central*

EAST (Syracuse)

1. Virginia* vs. 16. Saint Francis (NY)*/Bucknell* winner

8. Ohio State vs. 9. Colorado State

4. Northern Iowa* vs. 13. Murray State*

5. Arkansas vs. 12. Stanford/Tulsa winner

6. Butler vs. 11. Temple

3. Iowa State vs. 14. Sam Houston State*

7. Michigan State vs. 10. Georgia

2. Arizona* vs. 15. High Point*

WEST (Los Angeles)

1. Gonzaga* vs. 16. New Mexico State*

8. Ole Miss vs. 9. St. John's

4. Louisville vs. 13. Louisiana Tech*

5. West Virginia vs. 12. Purdue/Oregon winner

6. SMU* vs. 11. Wofford*

3. Utah vs. 14. Georgia State*

7. Georgetown vs. 10. Texas

2. Wisconsin* vs. 15. Northeastern*





Boise State


Old Dominion




* - denotes conference leader. In a result of a tie atop the standings, the team with the higher RPI was chosen.