St. Mary’s or Belmont: Who will benefit from Bracket Busters?

In December it was announced that this season would be the final one for Bracket Busters, the annual event that matches mid-major programs against each other in February. The problem is that many of the top teams from mid-major conferences do not compete, so there is only a small handful of key matchups, while the rest provoke little interest and shoulder the home team with a return trip the following year.

This year may be one of the weakest in the event's history. With the road and home teams already known, the only program which stands to gain a marquee home win is whoever gets matched up with Creighton. Two of those teams – Wichita State and Indiana State – already play in the same conference as Creighton.

This leaves St. Mary's of the West Coast Conference and Belmont of the Ohio Valley.

Those two teams are neck and neck in the Pomeroy's. Belmont is No. 31 while St. Mary's is No. 33. Belmont has the superior RPI, but they don't really play anyone in the Ohio Valley. Their marquee wins are against Stanford and Middle Tennessee. St. Mary's hobbled themselves with an awful out-of-conference schedule. Luckily, they won at BYU, which put a good win on their resume.

Whichever of them draw Creighton gets a chance to make a statement. The Blue Jays are No. 17 in the coaches poll and No. 21 in the AP. Belmont won't get anyone like that for the remainder of the season, while the Gaels still have home games vs BYU and Gonzaga.

A win over Creighton could propel either program into an at-large bid.

Whoever doesn't draw Creighton is close to a lose-lose proposition. A home win over Ohio, Montana, etc… wouldn't be a big boost, while a home loss might derail their chances for dancing.

ESPN will announce the matchups on Monday.