The CAA is Persona Non Grata at ESPN's Bracket Busters Because the League Signed a TV Deal with NBC Sports

Bracket Busters is a pretty rad February event in college basketball wherein ESPN tries to get 6-12 upper echelon mid-majors teams to play one another with an eye on March Madness. In recent years, the field has expanded dramatically from tourney contenders to teams with no shot of dancing. Bracket Busters is great prep for March, and it can also help mid-majors boost their Strength of Schedule and RPI. It could even help vault a team from the bubble into the field of 68.

But now that the CAA has inked a deal to have its games televised by the NBC Sports Network … ESPN won’t be inviting them to the Bracket Busters party. That stinks for ESPN, considering Drexel, VCU and George Mason have, in recent years, been key teams in the event. But it is bad news for the CAA, too:

“We are disappointed but we understand the business,’’ Yeager said. He said that the benefits of signing with NBC outweighed the risks of losing a spot in BracketBusters.

In college basketball, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for mid-majors to get high majors to play them in a home-and-home situation. Who is playing Butler or VCU or Creighton on the road? Nobody. In a neutral preseason tourney, sure, but a key win in November/December doesn’t carry the weight as a nice win in February.

Long-term, the move to NBC is a good one. The added exposure will obviously help with recruiting. In the short term, finding quality non-conference wins in February may be hard to come by.


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