Greg McDermott shed no tears over Tuesday’s demise of BracketBusters.
But he did admit the made-for-ESPN series has been good for the teams he coached at Northern Iowa and Creighton.
“I’ve certainly benefited from it,” McDermott said. “I’ve had some great wins as a result of BracketBusters. I understand why it’s going away, but during its time it’s been more of a positive than a negative.”
ESPN announced Tuesday that this year’s games would be the last for the series, which began in 2003 as an 18-team event designed to give so-called mid-major schools a chance to showcase themselves and possibly enhance their chances of landing a spot in the NCAA tournament.
The series has grown to more than 100 teams, with many of the matchups having little impact on college basketball’s big picture.
This year’s series will be played Feb. 22 through 24. Matchups will be announced at the end of January, and Creighton faces a game away from Omaha as a designated road team.
Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen said contractual obligations will remain, meaning the team that Creighton faces will have to play in Omaha, most likely during fall of 2014. Creighton will honor its contract to return a game with last season’s BracketBusters opponent, Long Beach State.
The Bluejays will visit the California school in 2013. Creighton also has a return game scheduled with Loyola of Chicago in 2015. That matchup of a 2010 game has already been pushed back several times by mutual agreement.
In addition to growing to an almost unwieldy number of teams, the event has been hamstrung by the refusal of schools such as Gonzaga and Butler and leagues such as the Mountain West and Atlantic-10 to participate.
The Colonial Athletic Association dropped out of the event this season when it signed a television contract with the NBC Sports Network.
“I think BracketBusters has lost some of its luster with all the realignment and leagues or teams choosing not to be a part of it,” McDermott said. “At the end of the day, there are a fewer number of teams that make up the pool for attractive games.
“Especially when you go into it with certain teams are at home or on the road. Then something crazy happens and seven of your eight best teams are home teams. You have to try to find people to play that makes sense.”
McDermott’s teams at Northern Iowa and Creighton have posted a 9-1 record in the series — 5-1 in the original BracketBusters game and 4-0 in return games. The latest win came Sunday over Akron, which won the original game in 2011.
McDermott does like that the elimination of the series will allow the Missouri Valley to back the start of its conference season into January. In order to participate in the event and play a round-robin, 18-game league schedule, the Valley previously had to open conference play the last week of December and force teams to play three games in one of the opening weeks.
“We’ll now have consistency through our conference schedule where you play two games a week,” he said. “And that maybe will allow us to get the guys home an extra day at Christmas, which I think is important.
“And if you choose to, you can play a game between Christmas and New Year’s. That’s a time of year when a BCS team might be looking for a game before conference play where they want to be tested. There absolutely could be some scheduling benefits.”
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