NCAA Basketball: 5 Mid-Major Teams to Watch Out for During Conference Tournaments
5 Mid-Majors Teams to Watch Out For During Conference Tournaments
It’s finally March and NCAA Basketball is only going to get better and more intense. Most teams have wrapped up conference play by Saturday which transitions straight into the thick conference tournaments across the country.
Some mid-major conferences already began their conference tournament like the Atlantic Sun, Big South, Ohio Valley Conference, Missouri Valley Conference, Patriot League, Summit League and West Coast Conference. These leagues will yield two bids max, while the power conferences will send three-to-four bids in. Don’t sleep on some of the basketball-heavy mid-majors like the Atlantic-10 and the Mountain West Conference, which should send at least two teams to reach the tournament.
Mid-majors have made serious noise this season with exceptional play coming from Wichita State, San Diego State and Saint Louis. Wichita State went undefeated in their regular season play and face Indiana State in their conference tournament. After Creighton left for the Big East, Wichita State made it their mission to attain conference superiority. San Diego State shocked the nation when they beat Kansas in Lawrence, Kan. Their biggest non-conference win in program history has given the Aztecs a lot of leeway with the polls. Saint Louis played efficiently in a strong A-10 year, yet still has not gained the national respect they deserve.
The next five teams are teams a few are familiar with, but watch out for them during conference tournament play. Some of these teams might not earn a bid to the Big Dance, but they’re all playing at a high level.
Boston blew away Army 91-70 in the Patriot League semi-final. The win advances them into the Patriot League championship game against American. This is Boston’s first year in the Patriot League and they’re already establishing themselves for the future.
VCU has a good chance of playing in the NCAA tournament, so the focus for VCU is tuning up and trying to beat the other A-10 teams, especially Saint Louis. Under Shaka Smart, these guys are playing smart and they’re scoring points.
North Dakota State
The Summit League is practically all North Dakota State’s. The national opinion is that these guys just play in barns, but it is interesting to note that the Bisons are leading the entire NCAA in field goal percentage. Watch out for their leading scorer, 6-foot-7 senior Taylor Braun.
Every team in the WCC wants to take down Gonzaga. While the nation's eyes are on Gonzaga, their second pair of eyes are on BYU. Saint Mary’s is a dark horse in this years WCC tournament. Not even considered on the bubble, they can put up a fight in the conference tourney to force themselves into the NCAA tournament.
Florida Gulf Coast
Since their improbable rise to relevance in last year’s tournament, the Eagles have lost their head coach to USC and “#dunkcity” has faded from collective memory. They face Mercer in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament final on Sunday, but will it bring them back into the national conversation? Probably not, but people would like to see a “Where are they now?” follow up from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team.