Life is hard when you’re a team in a mid-major college basketball conference. Often times you receive little television time, troubled transfer players and a tough time recruiting against larger and more well-known schools. Even Wichita State, the nation’s only undefeated team from the small but historic Missouri Valley Conference, is not the highest ranked team in the country.
Wichita’s pundits said the team wouldn’t be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament because of the conference the team plays in. How can a conference determine how far a team goes if WSU went to the Final Four last year?
As one-and-done players funnel faster and faster to the NBA, college teams with experienced players and good coaching will start to see more success. Green Bay basketball has been as consistent as any team not named Wichita State and is one of the darlings of mid-majors as a member of the Horizon League. Phoenix is 24-5 on the season and fought then-ranked Wisconsin tooth-and-nail in a 69-66 defeat November 16 on the road.
Green Bay’s strength is in its prolific duo of upperclassmen Kiefer Sykes and Alec Brown. Sykes is a crafty scorer (20.4 ppg) who opens things up for his 7-foot-1 teammate. Brown is a unique big man who can shoot really well. The senior center shoots 44 percent from 3-point range primarily because of his height and reach. Brown should be an NBA prospect despite not being a house-hold name.
This Phoenix team has prime-time players, which is sad because they are rarely on prime time. Green Bay will make noise in the NCAA tournament because of how unselfish the team is even though they have more-than-capable talent. This team will be a Cinderella team to watch out for.