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Liberty Named to ESPNU BracketBuster Field
For the second time in three seasons, the Liberty men's hoops team has been named among a field of 102 teams scheduled to compete for one of the 13 ESPNU BracketBuster nationally-televised games. The event will be held Feb. 20-21, and marks the seventh year of the ESPNU BracketBuster series.
"For years, teams have not only enhanced their position relative to postseason play by participating in the BracketBuster, but it also gives the opportunity to evaluate its program's growth, and we are excited to be a part of that," commented Liberty head men's basketball coach Ritchie McKay. "ESPN has a tremendous idea with the BracketBuster, and we think it's a privilege to join the field."
Liberty traveled to Niagara to take on the Purple Eagles in the Flames' lone appearance in the ESPNU BracketBuster in 2007. The Flames fell 90-81, to the Purple Eagles, a 2007 NCAA Tournament participant. Anthony Smith and Tyler Baker are the only two members of Liberty's current roster to appear in the Niagara contest. Smith tallied 15 points and pulled down five rebounds, while Baker scored six points off the bench.
Liberty joins fellow Big South members Winthrop and Gardner-Webb in the BracketBuster field this year. A unique feature in the ESPNU BracketBuster series requires each home team to return a trip to the visiting team the following season. A year ago Liberty hosted Niagara, defeating the Purple Eagles, 86-81 in the Vines Center, completing the contract for the 2007 ESPNU BracketBuster. The Flames will hit the road for this year's installment of the series, but will play host to their Feb. 21 opponent during the 2009-10 campaign.
Winthrop will host, while Gardner-Webb will play on the road during the ESPNU BracketBuster this season. The Big South is 4-4 all-time in the BracketBusters, having won twice in both 2006 and 2007. The conference was selected for national television appearances on ESPN2 in 2007 and 2008 during its BracketBuster participation. Opponents will be announced by ESPN on Feb. 2.
Thirteen of the 51 match-ups pitting potential NCAA Tournament hopefuls against each other will be televised nationally on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN 360.