The BracketBusters is no more. After 10 years, ESPN is ending its mid-major-themed event.
MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor broke the news on Twitter this morning: "ESPN to end the BracketBusters event after this season." ESPN later confirmed.
“BracketBusters has been a unique event for 11 years, producing memorable games and moments while generating national exposure for the participating schools and conferences," ESPN said via a statement. "Given the evolving college landscape, we felt the event in its present form has run its course. We'll continue to work with our conference partners to develop new, creative events to further grow the sport. Our goal is to maintain the BracketBusters brand in some fashion in the future.”
It started in 2003 with 18 teams with every game being televised (five on ESPN and ESPN2 and four on ESPN FULL COURT). The larger pool of teams started the following year.
It was a terrific idea back in 2003 when ESPN hatched it with just 18 teams and gave mid-major teams television exposure -- and also an opportunity to get a resume win that could help with the NCAA tournament committee. However, that was when every game was televised and before it became stale and meaningless for the majority of the teams in the event.
"There were a lot of positives," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, who also participated in the event when he was the coach at Winthrop, told CBSSports.com. "TV was the biggest. When you got another quality team on national TV, you were able to show the nation how good you were."
But the issue was that there were a handful, maybe even less, of matchups that held any legitimate significance. Even the majority of the games on television were somewhat irrelevant in the grand scheme of the NCAA tournament picture. A year ago, there were 13 games televised on one of ESPN's channels. One of them was Drake at New Mexico State, another was Akron at Oral Roberts, and another featured Buffalo at South Dakota State.
The headliners a year ago were Saint Mary's at Murray State and Long Beach at Creighton.
Quality, intriguing games. But the issue was that there just weren't enough of those that actually mattered.
The final BracketBusters takes place Feb. 22-23.