Sept. 16, 2005
Bristol, CT - All eight Big West Conference teams will be participating in this season's Bracket Buster Saturday, a one-day college basketball event organized by ESPN that places potential NCAA Tournament teams against each other on Feb.18. and Cal State Fullerton will be home for its inaugural appearance.
The network announced Thursday that the field has been expanded this season from 64 teams to 100, representing 18 conferences, all vying for 11 televised games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
The 22 teams selected for the TV games will have an opportunity to play other teams with high RPI ratings three weeks before the NCAA Tournament's Selection Sunday. Matchups, based on teams' records at the time, will be announced Jan. 29. As part of the agreement, all 50 home teams will play a return game at the home of their opponent in November or December of the next season.
The eight Big West teams are split between home and visitors. The home teams are UC Irvine, Pacific, UC Riverside and Fullerton, while the visitors are Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Santa Barbara.
Last season, Pacific, which had an RPI rating of 24 at the time, played Texas-El Paso on ESPN, while Cal State Northridge competed in a non-televised game in Connecticut. In previous years, UCI and Santa Barbara participated in the Saturday event.
"We clearly believe that Pacific was helped in the NCAA Tournament by playing a team with a high RPI rating in a late-season game, a game promoted on ESPN," said Rob Halvaks, Big West senior associate commissioner.
"You get an RPI bump by playing a good team late in the season."
Halvaks said he thinks a team will need an RPI rating between 50 and 60 points to secure a televised game.