If your school’s not ‘eligible’ for the next ESPN ‘bracket buster’ schedule manipulation event, it must really be terrible … or too big to qualify


One hundred and forty two.

That’s now many schools have been made “eligible” to be considerd for the final 26 teams that will be invited to add a game to their college basketball schedule in February so that ESPN can televise it and give it a little more RPI cred before March Madness begins.

In what ESPN now calls the “Sears BracketBusters” event set for 13 games played between Feb. 17 and 19, the three-day “event” will play out on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or lame-old ESPN3. So you’re not even guaranteed a game that’ll be on TV.

The matchups are purely picked by ESPN, while a committee of Conference commissioners determines the additional non-televised games. Because as it turns out, after the 26 teams are picked for the ESPN platforms, the other 116 not chosen will be paired off as well for a game. Because they’re already locked in.

Two West Coast Conference schools (including Loyola Marymount) and nine from the Big West (including Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State) are here in an event that only pulls hungry birds from the the mid-major conferences. There are no teams from the ACC, Big East, Pac-12, Big 12 or Big Ten.

Each team picked has already been designated a home or road team. LMU and CSUN are a home team; Long Beach State goes on the road. Somewhere.

ESPN likes to point out that 13 teams from this event last year made it to the NCAA tournament, and VCU won five games once it got in. CSUN was a “Bracket Buster” from 2009 that made it into the tournament field, as was Long Beach State in 2007.

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