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Just one week after ESPN's "Rivalry Week," the small schools take center stage in the annual "BracketBusters" festivities. Butler and Northern Iowa are both schools that are almost certainly going dancing regardless of what happens for the remainder of the season. However, for many of these teams, this weekend is their last chance to try to impress the Selection Committee in the event that they don't win their conference tournaments. Cappers Info has all you need to know about the teams that are trying to bust brackets this weekend!
Old Dominion Monarchs (20-7, 12-3 in Colonial Athletic)
Key Wins: vs. William & Mary, vs. Charlotte, @ Georgetown
Key Losses: @ Virginia Commonwealth, @ George Mason
If the Monarchs don't capture the auto-bid from the CAA, they're probably in a heap of trouble. The Selection Committee realizes just how good this conference is, but it's hard to justify taking ODU without one more truly marquee win. Heading into UNI is probably the most difficult task that any team has to take on this weekend, but for Old Dominion, it is a test that it must embrace and not fear. The Monarchs already proved that they were good enough to win at Georgetown this year, and a victory against the Panthers would probably get the job done. They've won four straight and gone 3-1 ATS in their L/4 "BracketBuster" appearances, but none are more important than the one this Friday night.
Siena Saints (22-5, 15-1 in Metro Atlantic)
Key Wins: vs. Northeastern
Key Losses: @ Niagara, @ St. John's
The good news for the Saints is that they may be the biggest college basketball favorite on the board for a small conference tournament when they take on the rest of the MAAC in a few weeks. The bad news is that their resume, though littered with plenty of wins, doesn't really look like one of a tourney team. HC Fran McCaffery was begging for a battle with Butler or one of the other big schools this week, but he may have gotten more than he bargained for. With four returning starters from last season's Sweet 16 team, the Saints are sure to give the Bulldogs a run for their money in a game that they absolutely have to have in all likelihood to steal an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if that's what it comes down to. Siena won last season's BracketBuster battle at home against Northern Iowa, but lost on the road against the Panthers earlier this season in the return battle.
Wichita State Shockers (21-6, 10-5 in Missouri Valley)
Key Wins: vs. Northern Iowa, vs. Texas Tech
Key Losses: @ Evansville, @ Drake, @ Creighton, @ Illinois State
Wichita State should be happy that it is going on the road for BracketBusters. As you can tell, there isn't a heck of a lot to this resume aside from some nice home wins. A victory at Utah State wouldn't be the most impressive thing in the world, but it would prove to the Selection Committee that the Shockers are capable of playing away from their home court. Right now, they may be the most intriguing side in the entire country, as the Valley's strong history in the dance will probably come into play come Selection Sunday. Still, WSU is going to have to play its way into the field one way or the other, and the far easier route will be a win on Saturday night against the Aggies.
Northeastern Huskies (17-9, 12-3 in Colonial Athletic)
Key Wins: vs. Utah State, vs. Kent State, vs. Old Dominion
Key Losses: vs. Drexel, @ Western Michigan, @ Drexel, vs. Providence, @ Boston
One look at this resume, and you're probably thinking to yourself, "How the heck is this team on the bubble?" True, on one glance, the Huskies don't have a great gripe to be a March Madness pick next month. However, the Selection Committee has always asked the question, "What have you done for me lately?" That's where Northeastern thrives. It is 15-2 in its L/17 games, most of which have come against solid CAA foes. The Huskies can play their way into the field if they win out in the regular season and go all the way to the Colonial title game in all likelihood, but a tough test against the WAC's Louisiana Tech stands in their way. Not only does Northeastern have to be good enough to win, but it may have to be incredibly impressive on Saturday to help persuade the committee if it can't take care of business itself.