ESPN's annual Brackterbuster games were announced Monday evening, giving teams the opportunity to showcase their talents and garner one last non-conference showing before the postseason. There will be two games televised Friday night, February 17th and then 11 contests running all day on Saturday, February 18th.
NBA-DRAFT.com highlights some of the games' best action:
Saint Mary's at Murray State - Saturday, February 18 at 6 PM
Saint Mary's knew they had a tough road ahead traveling to either Murray State or Creighton in this event and the Gaels drew the nation's only unbeaten team, the Racers of the Ohio Valley, a top-ten team at this point in the season.
Both Saint Mary's and Murray State are heading to the NCAA Tournament barring any sort of late-season collapse, so this game will certainly affect seeding, specifically for the Racers; the Gaels will certainly be the toughest opponent Murray State will have faced all season and there is the potential that Saint Mary's could end the Racers' win streak.
The matchup to watch will be at the point guard spot where Saint Mary's Matthew Dellavedova (15.4 points, 6.4 assists, 3.2 rebounds per game) will get pitted against Isaiah Canaan (18.7 points, 3.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds).
Long Beach State at Creighton - Saturday, February 18 at 10 PM
Long Beach State is tournament-tested and have big-time upset potential if they end up with a double-digit seed having played on the road thus far against Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Louisville, Kansas, North Carolina, Xavier and Kansas State. Behind star point guard Casper Ware (16.8 points, 3.3 assists) and athletic wing Larry Anderson, the 49ers backcourt is scary-good, enabling the team to upset Pitt and Xavier. Their non-conference slate clearly prepared them for the Big West where they stand a perfect 9-0.
Creighton's home-court advantage may be negated by how tough Long Beach State is on the road, but they have a legitimate Player of the Year candidate in Doug McDermott (23.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 61.7 field-goal percentage, 50.0 3-point percentage). McDermott is versatility and skilled enough to score the basketball both inside and out, creating matchup problems across the board. It's not a one-man show either; he gets help from point guard Antoine Young (11.2 points, 4.4 assists) and Rutgers-transfer Gregory Echenique (9.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 59.7 field-goal percentage).
The intriguing matchup is LBSU's Larry Anderson against Doug McDermott of Creighton. Anderson may not have the size to bang with McDermott inside, but he has the length and quickness to give him troubles on the perimeter. 6'8" TJ Robinson could come in to play McDermott given his athleticism.
Nevada at Iona - Saturday, February 18 at 4 PM
Despite a slew of wins, 18 to be exact, including 15 in a row, Nevada still finds themselves on the outside of the Top 25. Iona had high hopes to turn heads and make their way into the Top 25 as well, but their defense has been a major let down.
With point guard Scott Machado (13.4 points, 9.9 assists, 5.2 rebounds) taking the point, Iona's offense is fifth in points per game (82.2), tops in assists (19.2) and sixth in field-goal percentage. Machado uses his quickness to weave through the defense and set-up one-time Seton Hall Pirate, Mike Glover (18.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 67.1 field-goal percentage) and Arizona-transfer, MoMo Jones (14.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists). But for this team, the Gaels rank in the 200s in opponents' points per game, rebounds and field-goal percentage.
Nevada does not stand out in any category like Iona, but they are solid across the board and certainly place more emphasis on defense than their opponents. The Wolfpack should likely win the WCC based on their resume thus far in conference play, but should they slip up, this is an important test for them. There will be plenty of star-power on the floor with sophomore guard Deonte Burton (15.5 points, 4.5 assists) teaming up in the backcourt with Malik Story (14.6 points, 2.2 assists, 48.0 3-point percentage) and forwards Dario Hunt (10 points, 9.0 rebounds) and Olek Czyz (12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 55.2 field-goal percentage).
The matchup to watch will be in the frontcourt where two physical, low-post bangers will go head-to-head. Mike Glover makes better than two-thirds of his field-goal attempts and is even better at hitting the glass. Dario Hunt is a little bit bigger and bulkier, but just as feisty in the blocks and on the glass.