There are days when picking the Small Conference Game of the Day is painful. When it seems the only good small conference teams are playing games against the worst teams in their conferences, and at home to boot. When I am staring at Western Carolina or Sam Houston State or Florida A&M and practically banging my head against the wall for even a sentence or two to write about these schools.
Then, on the other hand, you have a day like today. BracketBuster Saturday. With a schedule like the one available today, the problem is not finding a game to feature — it is picking among a ton of great candidates. And with so many great “small conference” games on the slate, perhaps the best thing to do is just feature all of them:
11:00 AM – Iona at Indiana State, ESPNU — Iona may be the most talented team in the MAAC though they have not been able to reach the top of the league standings so far this season. Indiana State seemed on the verge of an at-large bid before a disastrous week last week.
1:00 PM – Eastern Kentucky at Valparaiso, ESPNU — Eastern Kentucky has been the surprise of the OVC this season, though they were unable to knock off league leader Belmont. Valpo has led the Horizon most of the season though has a tough Detroit team right at their heels.
1:00 PM – Canisius at Vermont, espn3 — Canisius is one of four teams fighting for the top spot in the MAAC. Vermont is currently sitting in second place in the America East behind league leader Stony Brook.
2:00 PM – Pacific at Western Michigan, espn3 — Pacific is the second best team in the Big West, though Long beach has already all but locked up the regular season title. Western Michigan has led the Western Division of the MAC most of the season, though most of the attention for the conference has focused on Akron and Ohio U.
3:00 PM – Montana at Davidson, ESPNU — Another battle of conference leaders, as Montana has dominated the Big Sky all season and Davidson has done the same in the Southern.
3:00 PM – Northwestern State at Niagara, espn3 — Northwestern State has one of the highest scoring offenses in the country and is tied for the Southland lead with Stephen F Austin. Niagara is among the group fighting for the top spot in the MAAC.
4:00 PM – Detroit at Wichita State, ESPN2 — Detroit has a solid team that may in fact be the eventual Horizon League representative in the NCAA tournament. They will give Wichita State all the can handle today in a game Wichita State really needs to solidify a suddenly shaky resume.
6:00 PM – Creighton at St. Mary’s, ESPN — This is perhaps the feature game of this year’s BracketBusters, as both teams are solidly in the at-large discussion, though St. Mary’s really needs a top 50 win such as this one.
8:00PM – South Dakota State at Murray State, ESPN2 — South Dakota St features one of the most exciting players in the country in Nate Wolters. They lead the Summit League and go up against OVC Western Division leader Murray State.
8:00 PM – Denver at Northern Iowa, espn3 — Denver has had a solid season in their first and only year in the WAC, though Louisiana Tech remains atop the league standings. Northern Iowa has been coming on strong lately and a win here today may help push them closer to the bubble.
10:00 PM – Ohio at Belmont, ESPN2 — If Creighton and St. Mary’s is the best game, this one is clearly the second best. Belmont has been one of the top small conference teams in the nation all season, while Ohio U has been second only to Akron in the MAC.
In addition to the ESPN games, there is one more honorable mention:
8:30 PM – Weber State at Oral Roberts, Fox College Sports — Weber State is the second best team in the Big Sky and the only team in the conference to beat Montana this year. Oral Roberts is only one game out of the lead in the Southland and will be a very tough out in the league tournament.