BracketBusters Schedule Headlined by Unbeaten Murray State vs. St. Mary’s

murray state basketball

ESPN released their 2012 BracketBusters schedule which features some of the best mid-major programs in the country going head-to-head in hopes of improving their NCAA Tournament resume.  The headliner this year features the lone remaining unbeaten in college basketball, Murray State hosting Top 20 team, St. Mary’s.

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#35 Harvard Crimson: College Basketball 111 in 111

harvard cheerleading

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

(I am going to try to get through this article without making a Good Will Hunting reference, but no promises.)  Even though they shared the honors with Princeton, the Harvard Crimson captured their first ever Ivy League title only to have their hope of ending up in the NCAA Tournament fall short as they lost a one-game playoff against their educated rivals.  With everyone returning from last year’s team, Harvard will be the favorites to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1946.

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#40 Belmont Bruins: College Basketball 111 in 111

belmont cheerleaders

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

With an experienced, balanced attack, the Belmont Bruins should once again be able to compete on a national scale this season.  They return nine players from their 11-man rotation and will be an unstoppable force in their final year in the Atlantic Sun before moving to the Ohio Valley Conference.

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#49 Old Dominion Monarchs: College Basketball 111 in 111

old dominion mascot

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Blaine Taylor has built the Old Dominion Monarchs into highly competitive mid-major program.  ODU has made the NCAA Tournament four of the past seven seasons and have a .750 winning percentage in the Colonial Athletic Association during that span.  The Monarchs do lose four starters from last year but should still be a threat to win the CAA and head back to the Big Dance.

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#58 Detroit Titans: College Basketball 111 in 111

ray mccallum jr

Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

It would be sacrilegious to pick anybody but Butler to win the Horizon League.  However, if any team is capable of knocking off the back-to-back National Runner-up, it is the Detroit TitansRay McCallum returns everybody from last season including a pair of potential NBA Draft picks.

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99 in 99: #69 George Mason Patriots

George Mason basketball

The Colonial Athletic Association is Old Dominion’s to lose.  But a few teams like George Mason, William & Mary, and VCU have a chance to be very competitive this season and potentially upset the Monarchs and earn an NCAA Tournament berth.

The Sports Bank’s 99 in 99 ranks the 72 power conference college basketball teams and top 27 mid-majors.  Our countdown will lead right up to the start of the season and provide you will all the in-depth information you need to know about your team.  Click here for #70-#99

By: David Kay
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Top Ten Mid-Majors in College Hoops

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By: David Kay

The Sports Bank’s six week preview of the major college basketball conferences came to an end last week.  But don’t you dare think we forgot about the little guys or as they are referred to on the college basketball scene, the mid-majors.

Programs like Memphis and Gonzaga have tried to shed the label of being a mid-major and have successfully been two of the better teams in the country for the past several years.  Other schools have consistently put a solid product on the floor and are a nightmare match-up in the NCAA Tournament.  We take a look at some of the top mid-major teams to keep an eye on this season.

Butler- There is good reason as to why the Bulldogs are ranked 10th/11th in the pre-season polls.  Butler returns everybody from a team that finished 26-6 a year ago.  Matt Howard, Gordon Hayward, and Shelvin Mack could play at any D-1 school and Brad Stevens is one of the best young coaches in the college game.  They play in a fairly competitive mid-major Horizon League, but will be tested with non-conference games against Northwestern, Minnesota, Ohio State, Georgetown, and Xavier

Dayton- Like Butler, the Flyers are ranked in the Top 25 in both polls and are expected to be the cream of the crop in the Atlantic 10.  Dayton went 11-deep last season, using a steady rotation of players to keep up their defensive pressure, and finished with a 27-8 record including a first round upset of West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament.  Ten of those contributors return including Chris Wright who could be poised for a breakout season.  Their non-conference schedule is a bit soft but playing in a very competitive Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament should give them some tough early season opposition.

xavier

Xavier- The Musketeers are in a bit of a re-loading season.  Gone are their top three scorers from last season as well as their head coach Sean Miller.  Still, Xavier returns five contributing players from their 2008-2009 team that nearly knocked off Pitt in the Sweet 16 and adds Indiana transfer Jordan Crawford (the dude who dunked on LeBron in the pick-up game and Nike confiscated the video) who should step in right away and be a scoring threat at the two-guard.

Siena- The Saints have been a dreaded first round NCAA Tournament opponent the past two seasons, upsetting higher seeded teams in both years.  They bring back five players who averaged at least eight points per game including MAAC pre-season player of the year, Edwin Ubiles.  A third straight conference title is likely and whoever draws them in the opening round of the tourney will not be happy.  Throw in Siena’s Just-in’love Smith for any conversation regarding the best name in college basketball.

Tulsa- The Golden Hurricanes bring back six of their top seven players from last year’s second place team in Conference USA.  With Memphis in a bit of a transition season, Tulsa is poised to dethrone the Tigers as the top team in the conference.  Seven-foot future NBA’er Jerome Jordan continues to develop as a big man and Ben Uzoh is a talented scorer on the wing.

matt bouldinGonzaga- It is hard to consider Gonzaga a “mid-major” after the success the program has had in the past decade.  They lose four key players in Austin Daye, Jeremy Pargo, Josh Heytvelt, and Micah Downs and rely heavily on their backcourt of Demetri Goodson, Matt Bouldin, and Steven Gray this season.  Mark Few has never shied away from playing a tough non-conference schedule and this year is no different as Michigan State, Wake Forest, Duke, Oklahoma, Illinois, Memphis, and whoever they meet up with in the Maui Invitational are all on the schedule.

Memphis- The Tigers’ top four scorers from last season are gone, as is Coach Cal who took with him a very talented recruiting class.  New head coach Josh Pastner will have his work cut out for him, but the addition of Duke transfer Elliot Williams should help ease the transition.  Memphis has only lost one conference game in the past four seasons, but will almost certainly surpass that total this season.  They will get a huge early season test when they host Kansas on November 17.

San Diego State- The Aztecs had their bubble burst on Selection Sunday last season before making a nice run in the NIT.  They do lose three valuable contributors including their top two scorers, but were a deep team last season and add three transfers including former Illinois big man Brian Carlwell and a talented freshman in wing player Kawhi Leonard.

BYU- The Cougars have captured at least a share of the Mountain West title in each of the last three years.  A fourth may be on the horizon as BYU brings back four of their starters from last season’s 25-8 team including big-time scorers, Jimmer Fredette and Jonathan Tavernari.  BYU should battle San Diego State for the conference crown.

Western Kentucky- The Hilltoppers have made their presence felt on the national scene.  Two years ago, WKU advanced to the Sweet 16, and last season, they upset Illinois in the first round before losing to Gonzaga by two points in the round of 32.  Five of their top six scorers return including leading scorer A.J. Slaughter.  WKU should claim their third straight Sun Belt title and will be a dreaded 12 seed come tourney time.

More college hoops previews this week:
Monday: College Hoops 101
Wednesday: All-American Predictions
Thursday: The Field of 65
Friday: My Final Four Predictions

The Sports Bank Big 10 Preview/Power Rankings:
Teams 8-11 (Northwestern, Penn State, Indiana, Iowa)
Teams 4-7 (Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin)
Teams 1-3 (Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State)

The Sports Bank Big 12 Previews/Power Rankings:
Teams 10-12 (Colorado, Texas Tech, Nebraska)
Teams 7-9 (Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State)
Teams 4-6 (Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M)
Teams 1-3 (Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma)

The Sports Bank ACC Previews/Power Rankings:
Teams 10-12 (Virginia Tech, Virginia, N.C. State)
Teams 7-9 (Wake Forest, Miami FL, Boston College)
Teams 4-6 (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech)
Teams 1-3 (UNC, Duke, Maryland)

The Sports Bank SEC Previews/Power Rankings:
SEC East Teams 4-6 (Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia)
SEC East Teams 1-3 (Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida)
SEC West Teams 4-6 (Arkansas, Auburn, LSU)
SEC West Teams 1-3 (Mississippi State, Mississippi, Alabama)

The Sports Bank Pac-10 Preview/Power Rankings:
Teams 8-10 (Washingon State, Arizona State, Stanford)
Teams 5-7 (Arizona, USC, Oregon)
Teams 1-4 (Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Cal)

The Sports Bank Big East Previews/Power Rankings
:
Teams 13-16 (Rutgers, South Florida, Providence, DePaul)
Teams 9-12 (Notre Dame, Pitt, Marquette, St. John’s)
Teams 5-8 (Syracuse, Louisville, Cincinnati, Seton Hall)
Teams 1-4 (Villanova, West Virginia, UConn, Georgetown)
Post-Season Award Predictions

For all the latest college basketball info, you can also follow David Kay on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB