Looking for an invitation
Selection Sunday is 46 days away, and there will be plenty of jockeying on the bubble among members of the 10 major conferences (six BCS, Atlantic 10, Conference USA, Mountain West, Western Athletic). For the rest of the college hoops world, February is about building momentum and improving seeding for the all-or-nothing conference tournament that ultimately holds the NCAA fate of almost every mid-major team.
There are a handful of mid-majors every year who slip up in their conference tournaments and still get invited to the Big Dance. This year, that field does not look very large. Five teams appear to be in decent shape, while five others can play their way into position during February and early March.
Here are the 10 mid-majors with the best chance of earning an at-large bid if they fail to win their conference tournament.
BracketBusters matchups will be announced on Monday and played on Feb. 22 and 23. ESPN does its best to pair the best designated home teams against the best designated road teams, creating compelling matchups and giving the participating teams exposure and a chance for a quality win. The field has increased to 100 teams this year, but the reality is only a handful of games will impact the NCAA tournament.
Last year, we predicted three of six marquee matchups. Here goes this year's attempt.
No doubt about this year's headliner. The Cinderella leader of the Missouri Valley travels to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a battle with Butler on the court where Hoosiers was filmed.
The Wildcats probably don't want a second cross-country trip this year, but it could finally give them the high-RPI win they've been looking for after losses to UCLA, UNC, Duke and N.C. State. The matchup of guards
Kent State has to be hoping Oral Roberts does not lose between now and Bracketbusters, giving the Flashes an opportunity for a much-needed quality road win.
So why not have another CAA vs. MVC matchup? Both teams were preseason favorites who have underachieved at this point, but they are both still a threat in their conference tournaments and hold very slim at-large hopes. SIU's
A win, even at home, over a top Missouri Valley team would legitimize Cleveland State's strong league run in the minds of the committee. Creighton simply cannot afford to slip at all.