Clarksville, TN – Over the last decade, no other Ohio Valley Conference team had played more games in the ESPN BracketBuster format than the Austin Peay State University Governors.But the Govs 77-71 victory over the Liberty University Flames, December 14th in the Dunn Center, marked the end of that event and return games that were guaranteed with the event.
Even though the Govs only recorded three wins in 10 BracketBuster games over that decade, the event brought more positives than negatives for Austin Peay.
“It’s been good from the standpoint of us being able to secure games that we probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise,” Austin Peay head basketball coach Dave Loos said. “If I think back to the beginning, we had to go to Wichita State in the first one and that brought Wichita State back here. So we’ve had some good basketball teams come to the Dunn Center as a result of the Bracketbuster, so from that standpoint it was good.
“I know that people always complained able the timing of the games, because you’re in the middle of your conference season, and it’s disrupted with those games.”
But what was originally a format that matched a dozen or so teams from non-BCS conferences that were having outstanding seasons, and were in position to make noise in the NCAA Postseason Tournament, turned into over saturated event with every team in even non-BCS conference getting games and watering down the event into just another game on the schedule for most teams.
“It got so big and there were so many teams involved that it lost its luster partly because of that,” Loos said. “Early on, it was really kind of an honor to be able to play in it.
“I remember our first game going to Wichita State — it was a TV game – and they still have the TV games in the latter stages, but it had lost its luster and wasn’t as special as it once was and I think that is a big part of why they did away with it.”
But Loos added that maybe somewhere down the line a network may come up with some other event like the BracketBuster for teams to participate in.
Another possibility would be for the Ohio Valley Conference to come up with a challenge type event, much like the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 10 Conference have with teams being paired up and the conference that ends with the most wins getting bragging rights.
“Those conversations come up from time to time,” Loos said. “The issue is finding a league that wants to do it. Then you have people that talk about I’ll play this team, but I won’t play that team.
“You have to have the buy in and I think on a given year in some of those challenges the teams are better that year in a particular conference play some of the better teams in another conference. You just have to roll with the punches on that, but I think it would be helpful in scheduling and bring some visibility to the league.”