With the announcement of this weekend's Bracket Buster games, most college basketball junkies immediately started scouring the list of 50 games to find the best. Obviously, there are several unnecessary games. For example, 3-21 UC-Riverside at 3-17 Idaho? Or 3-22 St. Peter’s at 6-21 Tennessee-Martin? What about 1-24 Iona at 5-21 Delaware — the last two winless teams in college basketball this season? However, there is an abundance of quality contests, and not just the televised games either. Nearly every "TV game" is a matchup of competitive teams, but there are plenty of games outside of the viewing arena that should be followed closely. So, what are the Top Ten Bracket Buster Games? Most won't be surprised at the #1, but the rest are debatable.
1. Southern Illinois at Butler (Saturday, 4:00 PM, ESPN2)
Butler is one of the biggest surprise teams this season. Prior to their loss at Wright State this past weekend, the Bulldogs had won nine in a row. They are 22-3 overall, 11-2 in the Horizon. Ranked #31 in the RPI, Butler has wins over Tennessee, Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Purdue. A.J. Graves is one of the best guards in the country, and he combines with Mike Green to form an outstanding backcourt. Brandon Crone is a good all-around player up front, providing balance. Expect a low-scoring, defensive-minded battle in this one.
2. Winthrop at Missouri State (Friday, 7:00 PM, ESPN2)
Missouri State started off the season very strong, knocking off Wisconsin at a neutral site. They struggled to open MVC play, but have won five in a row heading into the week. Blake Ahearn is one of the best shooters in the country, while wing Tyler Chaney and Spencer Laurie flank him in a very good perimeter group. Deven Mitchell is one of the best sixth men around.
3. Drexel at Creighton (Saturday, 10:00 PM, ESPN2)
Creighton went only 6-4 in non-conference play after being a preseason favorite to win the MVC. However, they have played well lately and are in second place in the conference at 11-4. Nate Funk and Anthony Tolliver form an excellent inside-outside combo. Dane Watts is a very good option offensive, who can also rebound. Nick Porter is a talented guard.
4. Appalachian State at Wichita State (Saturday, 1:00 PM, ESPNU)
Wichita State, like Appalachian State, started hot with victories over LSU and Syracuse, but the Shockers have struggled in MVC play, sitting at 8-7. Kyle Wilson is a very good inside-outside scorer, while P.J. Couisnard is a versatile wing. Sean Ogirri can shoot.
5. Bradley at VCU (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN2)
VCU is a real sleeper for March. The Rams are sitting atop the CAA at 13-2, but likely won’t get an at-large bid. However, they are tough. They play pressure defense, and have an outstanding guard group in B.A. Walker, Jesse Pellot-Rosa, and Eric Maynor. Wil Fameni is a solid big man with a nice touch.
6. Northern Iowa at Nevada (Saturday, 6:00 PM, ESPN2)
Nevada is a legit Top 20 team, and has one of the best players in the country in big man Nick Fazekas. The Wolf Pack is a lock to go dancing in March. In addition to Fazekas, Nevada has a much underrated guard duo in point guard Ramon Sessions and wing Marcelus Kemp. Sessions is playing like he did as a freshman (that’s a good thing), while Kemp can fill it up.
7. Cal State-Fullerton at Wright State (Saturday, 8:00 PM, ESPN360)
Wright State is coming off of a win over Butler, their seventh in a row. Matching up with Brown will be another outstanding guard in Dashaun Wood. He can do it all on the court and is an excellent scorer. Vaughn Diggins and Todd Brown flank him on the perimeter. Drew Burleson is tough down low.
8. Austin Peay at Akron (Saturday, 5:00 PM, ESPNU)
Akron, prior to their loss over the weekend at Toledo, had won nine in a row. They are 9-2 in the MAC, tied with Toledo for the overall conference lead. Romeo Travis is a dominant big man at times, and can carry the Zips. 6-0 guards Cedrick Middleton and Dru Joyce are small but talented in the backcourt. Nick Dials can really shoot the ball.
9. Holy Cross at Hofstra (Saturday, 3:00 PM, ESPNU)
Hofstra is one game back of VCU in the CAA standings, but that home loss will likely cost them a share of the conference title. The Pride have one of the best backcourts in the country in wings Loren Stokes, the CAA Player of the Year favorite; Antoine Agudio, an unbelievable shooter; and Carlos Rivera, a solid point guard.
10. Old Dominion at Toledo (Saturday, ESPN360)
Toledo has won eight of their last ten, including a victory over Akron this past weekend. The Rockets are tied for first in the MAC at 9-2. They own one of the best mid-major backcourts in the country in Keonta Howell and Justin Ingram. Both can score very well, and are also decent rebounders. Florentino Valencia is somewhat undersized at 6-5, but he gets points and rebounds on the interior.
Best of the Rest
Utah State at Oral Roberts (Saturday, 7:00 PM, ESPNU): Two teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last season go at it. Utah State was expected to be down somewhat this year, but the Aggies are in third-place in the WAC, and have won eight of their last eleven. Jaycee Carroll is one of the best guards you’ve never heard of; he can really shoot the ball. Chaz Spicer and Stephen DuCharme form a solid frontcourt duo. Oral Roberts is a deep sleeper in March, as shown by their road win at Kansas this season. The Mid-Continent leaders are led by Caleb Green, one of the best big men in the country. Ken Tutt provides balance on the perimeter with his scoring, and Marchello Vealy is a versatile wing.
Ohio at New Mexico State (Saturday, Midnight, ESPN2): Two teams coming off of disappointing weeks. Ohio had one of the more surprising losses of the season, at home to Northern Illinois, a team who had 4 wins prior to that. The Bobcats, 7-4 in the MAC, have five guys averaging in double-figures, led by the post duo of Leon Williams and Jerome Tillman. They combine for over 30 points and 18 rebounds per game. Bubba Walther and Sonny Troutman are the main perimeter threats. New Mexico State was in the mix for an at-large bid heading into last week, but they went 0-2 on the road, and are falling. Justin Hawkins can do-it-all for the Aggies, while Tyrone Nelson is a dominating big man, at times. Fred Peete can shoot the ball well, while center Hatila Passos is solid down low.