Wednesday, January 2, 2008

America East Record Four Teams Selected to O’Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters Pool

Courtesy: America East Conference

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The University at Albany, Binghamton University, Boston University and University of Vermont men’s basketball teams have been selected to the pool of teams to participate in the sixth-annual O’Reilly ESPNU BracketBusters series, which will be televised on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Classic on Friday-Satuday, February 22-23.

The four teams represents the largest number of America East teams selected to the pool in the series’ six-year history. America East is one of only seven conferences to have had at least one team selected for the BracketBusters event in each of the last three years. Albany played Boise State in 2007 and Virginia Commonwealth in 2006, while Vermont played Nevada in 2005.

In all, a total of 100 teams will compete in the 50-game, two-day event. A minimum of 12 of the 50 match-ups pitting potential NCAA Tournament hopefuls against each other will be televised nationally, highlighted by a total of six games on ESPN2. An additional five games will be aired on ESPNU -- ESPN’s 24-hour collegiate sports network which launched on March 4, 2005 -- and one on ESPN Classic.

“We are excited to have a record four teams chosen to this year’s BracketBusters pool. I think these four programs being selected is a sign of our growth and improvement as a conference,” said America East Commissioner Patrick Nero. “America East and our membership relishes the opportunity to gain national exposure through ESPN and its family of networks during the BracketBusters series.”

Albany has appeared on ESPNU in each of the last two BracketBusters, suffering an 83-82 loss at Boise State last season after falling 70-67 at Virginia Commonwealth in 2006. Vermont traveled to Nevada for the event’s marquee game on ESPN2 in 2005. The Catamounts dropped a 74-64 decision to the Wolfpack, but advanced to the NCAA Tournament two weeks later where they upset Syracuse, 60-57, in the first round.

The match-ups for the BracketBusters series will be determined by ESPN in conjunction with the conferences approximately three weeks prior to the event. As part of the agreement, home teams will play a “return” game at the home facility of their BracketBusters series opponent in November or December of the following season. All four America East teams have been tabbed “road” teams for the 2008 event, which will result in a home game versus their selected opponent during the 2008-09 season.

This year’s BracketBusters pool features teams with 74 appearances in the last five NCAA Tournaments, including a team in the Final Four - George Mason (2006); and seven Sweet Sixteen squads – Butler (2007), Southern Illinois (2007), Bradley (2006), Wichita State (2006), UW-Milwaukee (2005), Nevada (2004) and Butler (2003).

In an effort to provide a greater opportunity for NCAA Tournament-caliber teams, the event has expanded its pool of teams (18 in 2003, 46 in 2004, 64 in 2005, 100 in 2006) each year to produce a better cross section of squads for the basketball bonanza.

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