BracketBusters and the Art of College Basketball

BracketBusters and the Art of College Basketball
  • Opening Intro -

    Never underestimate the power of corporate media, especially when it comes to college athletics.


Men’s basketball and a February weekend to remember.

ESPN, which is tied to ABC with both owned by Disney, pours tens of millions of dollars into college programming each month. ESPN’s greatest influence is in football and in men’s basketball.

Lunardi’s Bracketology

For better or for worse, men’s basketball (and woman’s basketball too) is what it is today because of ESPN. This media channel is at the forefront of the hype surrounding college basketball and has taken Joe Lunardi’s “bracketology” methodology of determining the teams and seedings for the NCAA men’s tournament.

ESPN also has had a major influence on scheduling, coming up with a “BracketBusters” weekend that is now in its tenth season. Officially known as “Sears BracketBusters,” this year’s event will be held from Feb. 17-19, and pulls in 142 teams from 16 conferences to play 71 games. Of those games, 13 will be nationally televised, bringing an unprecedented number of games to your home.

Premier Contest

Sears BracketBusters does not include teams from the power conferences. The Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC 12, SEC and ACC do not participate. Nor does the Atlantic 10. Instead, these games pit teams from midlevel and lower-tier conferences, in a bid to help shake out the field. Teams that play at home may have an important advantage, but the other part of that agreement has the home team returning the favor by visiting its opponent in the 2013-2104 season.

This year there will be one game or premier contest that will pit a pair of Top 25 teams. As of this writing, Murray State is 21-0 and ranked #10 in the nation. St. Mary’s is 21-2 and ranked #16 and is fresh off of a 80-66 win against BYU in Utah. Murray State has largely been unchallenged this year, while the Gaels are unbeaten in the West Coast Conference including a win over then #23 Gonzaga. The Gaels will have a rematch against Gonzaga on Feb. 9 on the road before traveling to Kentucky to play Murray State.

Winners & Losers

February’s showdowns will help some teams make a mark for themselves, while quite possibly ruining the post-season bids of other teams. All conferences except for the Ivy League have championship games, with the winner of each awarded an automatic bid to the Field of 68. About half of that field will be for teams that will gain at-large bids with perhaps just 4 to 8 teams from these non power conferences receiving an invite. Expect that the selection committee will be reviewing the Sears Bracketbuster weekend to take into account how potential teams fare on that weekend of February basketball madness.


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Categories: NCAA Basketball