INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 03: A general view of the opening tip-off between the Butler Bulldogs and the Michigan State Spartans during the National Semifinal game of the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship on April 3, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
It is the best of times and the worst of times to be a mid-major basketball team in America.
On the positive side, the gap between the haves and the have nots in basketball has never been smaller. Players are forgoing being a bench asset at some Big 6 institution for the chance to be a major player for the next tier of schools. Tournament expansion has also meant more opportunities for teams to make the big dance with decent seasons behind them.
But the dark side is closing in on the best of the bunch. BCS conference expansion, contraction and re-expansion threatens to eat up the teams that raise the level of play outside of the top conferences. And there are rumblings of restricting access to the tournament or dividing Division 1 in a manner similar to football.
Neither story explains the whole truth of mid-major basketball. That's why we are here...again...for the third time.
Mid-MajorMadness as a site has a checkered past. It has been here, not been here, was reborn and then left for dead. Along the way, the site missed some of the best years of smaller conference basketball.
That all changes now.Our goal is to bring you the stories and the trends outside of those conferences that garner the majority of the spots in the NCAA Tournament. That means you won't see much from the Big 6 conferences here, unless it touches on what we do (and some will).
It also means you won't see anything on the Atlantic 10, or Mountain West. Those conferences have proven that the Tournament is open to them just as much as it is to teams from the Big 10 or ACC. That isn't to say that the bar is exactly the same for those schools, but the barrier to entry is much lower.
There are still 24 other conferences out there, if you count the Great West., and we will. We will still track Conference USA, which just seems like a training ground for inclusion in the Big East lately. And we will devour the best of the rest. Missouri Valley, West Coast, Horizon, MAC, or Southern; everything is fair game here.
So who are we?
Let's start with me. I have been tracking and writing about college basketball online since 2000, at my site MRISports.com. I have a unique view on things, given that I tend to view college basketball through the lens of my computer rankings. That is how I keyed in on Kent State back in 2002. That is how I knew about George Mason. And that is how you will know about the best teams no one is talking about before they start talking about them.
Along the way I developed a player rating system known as HOOPWAR, and we will use that a lot here to talk about the best of the best.
Our fleet of writers have been doing so prolifically on the web and in print, from college papers, to here at SBNation, to other sites around the web. And we are always looking for more. If you have extensive knowledge of a conference, we want you to contribute here. Just drop me an email and we can talk about what you can bring to Mid-Major Madness.
In the meantime, we hope that you enjoy what you see, and come Tournament time, you are the most educated person in your NCAA Tournament pool.