January 8, 2009 12:59 pm ET by Kyle Whelliston
Wright State at Butler (Horizon League)
Hinkle Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, IN
7:00 PM EST
Tonight marks the first slate in which every college basketball game nationwide is a league contest. We have action in the CAA, SoCon, NEC, OVC, Horizon, America East, Sun Belt, Badlands Conference, Big West, Big Sky and WAC. We truly live inside parentheses now.
And our G!O!T!N! features the mid-major that had Hoops Nation's best performance outside the brackets. The Bulldogs are the No. 1 team in our weekly ratings, primarily due to a 12-1 record against the 22nd toughest schedule in the country. There were Red Line Upsets against Northwestern and UAB, and a stunning win at TS-22 No. 2 team Xavier. Only a three-point loss at Ohio State stands between them and 13-0. We've said it before and we'll bore you with it again, but this is a much more dynamic, well-rounded team than the previous two -- and the 2006-07 and 2007-08 editions had three NCAA wins between them. While the A.J. Graves-led squads relied on ball control to win, this team can outshoot, outrebound, outhustle anybody. And having three underclassmen averaging in double figures means that Bulldog fans are well-advised to re-up on season tickets for the next few years. This is going to be a very good team for a very long time.
Standing in the way tonight is Wright State, the league rival that forced a two-bid Horizon two seasons ago with a fantastic 60-55 win against these Bulldogs in the 2007 title game. After a start that had all the markings of a lost season, the Raiders began the campaign 0-6 before a complete shutdown versus Toledo sparked a stretch of wight wins in nine games. The most impressive was a 71-62 victory over Cleveland State in a previous G!O!T!N!, a win over the preseason league favorites that truly signaled that Wright was off the wrong track for good. Brad Brownell's squad has outrebounded six straight opponents and enjoyed balanced production. After a hand injury to major scorer Vaughn Duggins, the team relies hero-of-the-night performances. During this run, four different Raiders have acted as leading scorer.
|Hickory Picket Fences||27629|
|The Hopping Cats||21526|
|Under a Blood Red Line||10379|
|Jen Folds Five||6895|