The Pulse: Major Sleepers

Updated: February 17, 2006, 2:48 PM ET
Thursday, Feb. 16

Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and chatting with experts in The Show. We collect the daily highlights and put them in The Pulse.

Story of the Day: Bracket Busting
 Bucknell
It's the weekend for mid-majors to tell us who they are.
Even as pressure, booster expectations or downright bad judgment cast a pall over big programs at Indiana, Missouri and Oklahoma State, there is a brighter side to February in college basketball.

BracketBusters are back.

They may ruin your chances of winning the office pool in March, but mid-majors are the perfect recipe for getting back to the basics of the college game. Hype is sparse and passion abundant in leagues like the Missouri Valley and Mid-American. But postseason life is also perilous for these schools, which spend much of the season hoping to stockpile enough insurance to make the NCAA Tournament if they stumble in conference tournaments.

BracketBusters offers a final chance for some of these contenders to make a national impression, with 13 games on ESPN networks this Friday and Saturday. SportsNation's top sleeper pick this season appears to be Bucknell, making Saturday's showdown against fellow popular pick Northern Iowa a game worth watching.

Buster Banter
"I think the run [last year] was amazing. Coming up as a kid, everyone watches March Madness, it's something you dream about as a kid. It did tremendous things for our program and my teammates and I. Some guys go for five years in college and don't get the opportunity to go to the NCAAs."
UW-Milwaukee's Joah Tucker in chat

Which team in a BracketBuster game is the biggest NCAA Tournament threat? (14,834 votes)
37.5% Bucknell
21.8% Northern Iowa
18.8% UW-Milwaukee
11.3% George Mason
10.4% Wichita State

Which of the following teams has the most to gain from BracketBusters?
31.9% Bucknell (at Northern Iowa)
24.7% Akron (at Nevada)
11.6% George Mason (at Wichita State)
9.9% Missouri State (at Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
8.1% Wisconsin-Milwaukee (vs Missouri State)
6.9% Nevada (vs Akron)
3.9% Northwestern State (at Utah State)

Buster Banter
"It comes with the territory that a lot of the major teams don't want to play you at home. We've proved to be a good opponent on the road, as well as at home. ... Since I've been at this university, we haven't played a lot of home games, so we're definitely used to that. "
Bucknell's Charles Lee in chat

Bucknell at Northern Iowa: Who wins? (3,560 votes)
60.2% Bucknell
39.8% Northern Iowa

How many teams from the Missouri Valley will make the NCAA Tournament? (2,675 votes)
31.8% Two
27.2% Three
18.8% One
16.1% Four
5.8% Five

How would you describe your favorite college basketball team? (10,371 votes)
77.0% Major
14.9% Mid-major
5.3% Low-major
2.6% Not Div. I

  • Vote on mid-major teams | Pick BracketBuster winners


    SportsNation's Show
    Buster Banter
    "Even though we've won 20 games, we don't have any banners in the gym yet, so it doesn't mean anything. This team is focused to put some banners up in the Patriot Center."
    George Mason's Lamar Butler in chat

    Andy (Washington, D.C.): How can you explain that George Washington is getting such acclaim when their biggest wins of the season are against Xavier and St. Joe's?

    Rece Davis: If you do a blind resume between GW and say, one of the teams from the Missouri Valley, it's almost stunning, it's not overwhelming. But as we see, upsets occur every night. By GW just losing one game and playing in a legit conference, they deserve some love.

    Brandon (Pennsylvania): Who is your sleeper team to make some noise in the Big Dance? What do you think of Bucknell?

    Rece Davis: I like them. I think one win will be it for them. Sleeper Sweet 16 team: Wichita State. Is it OK to go sleeper with an MVC team?

    Buster Banter
    "I think the BracketBusters is a good way to measure ourselves against other conferences. ... On Saturday, we'll have a bunch of Valley teams playing against other conferences. The more games that we win, the better we'll look."
    Wichita State's Paul Miller in chat

    Seth (Omaha): Bracket Busters is this weekend. Is it time to ditch this joke or modify it? A true Bracket Busters would pit mid-majors against teams from power conferences, but we all know that the Dukes of the world will never play the Creightons of the world.

    Rece Davis: Nah, why spoil the surprise in the NCAA Tournament? It lets teams get a shot at a quality win late in the season. I like it. And remember, Duke did play Bucknell. At Duke, of course, but they did play them.

  • Click here for Davis' chat transcript


    Voice of the Fan: Mike Davis and IU
    Mike Davis is really coming off poorly out of this whole thing. It just looks like he is giving up and quitting. Oh wait, he is.
    Jeff (Cleveland)

    Hoosier Hysteria
    What do you think of Mike Davis announcing he'll resign at the end of the season? Is IU still a top-tier coaching job? Why didn't fans embrace Davis? Vote on the Hoosiers

    "My guess is that IU wants a non-controversial hire after six years of turmoil on some level. I don't know who they'll go after. If it's Steve Alford, he has to be the guy, and they'd better not nickel and dime him."
    Rece Davis in chat

    I'm not surprised. Mike Davis has been in over his head. That Final Four meant nothing. It's tough to follow a legend.
    Chris (Connecticut)

    No one could have lived up to Bob Knight, but Davis wasn't even close. He is great at recruiting, but he can't coach them once they're there.
    Tim (Indianapolis)

    Davis never really had a chance at Indiana. Never be the guy to replace a legend. Always be the guy to replace the guy that replaced the legend.
    Dougie Fresh (Washington, D.C.)

    Can we please stop all the "leave now" talk? If this were the NBA, then sure, that would be fine. But this is college, and I think that Mike Davis owes it to his kids, especially his seniors, to continue to coach/teach them through the year.
    Mike (Washington, D.C.)

    Mike Davis is the anti-Bob Knight. Knight controlled the media, while Davis let it ruin him.
    Ted (Pittsburgh)

  • Click here for transcript of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie



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