Valpo, the defending Mid-Continent Conference Champion, has been named to the pool of 64 teams to participate in ESPN's 2005 Bracket Buster on Sat., Feb. 19. The Crusaders, who will play as a road team in the event, will learn their opponent no later than Feb. 3. As a result of playing on the road in the Bracket Buster, Valpo is guaranteed a non-conference home game on any date next season against their Feb. 19 Bracket Buster opponent.
Eleven (11) of the 32 Bracket Buster games will be televised by either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Full Court. The inclusion of Valpo and Oral Roberts in the pool marks the first time that the Mid-Continent Conference has been represented in the third annual event. Oral Roberts will also be a road team.
?We welcome the opportunity to take part in such a prestigious national event," said Mark LaBarbera, Valpo's Director of Athletics. ?Having two Mid-Con schools in the ESPN Bracket Buster demonstrates significant strides for our conference.
?Also, we are very excited about bringing in another high-quality non-conference opponent to the ARC for the 2005-06 season."
This event has allowed several Division I conferences to participate in a cutting-edge format that features 'wild-card' scheduling for the pool of participating teams, with half of the Bracket Buster Saturday teams pre-designated as 'home' and the remaining half as 'road' teams.
The 2005 event features teams from 13 different conferences, with the pool of teams increased from 46 in 2004. The original Bracket Buster featured 18 teams during the 2002-03 season. The selection of the 11 games to be televised will be made by the staff of ESPN, in consultation with the commissioners of the participating conferences. Consideration will be given to avoiding match-ups between conference teams and between teams that already met earlier in the 2004-05 season.
Valpo continued its good fortunes in the Mid-Con last season, capturing its ninth regular-season title and eighth league tournament crown in the last 10 years, while also making its seventh NCAA Tournament since 1996. In his second tour of duty on the Crusader bench, head coach Homer Drew has seen his program win at least 20
games in nine of the last 11 years, and appear in 10 consecutive Mid-Con Tourney championship games. Drew, who ranks 15th among active NCAA Division I coaches in victories (523), welcomes back a pair of second-team All-Mid-Con selections in Dan Oppland (15.7ppg, 7.2 rpg) and Ali Berdiel (11.3ppg, 6.0 apg).