This year at Mid-Major Madness we will be releasing a Top 15 poll every Monday. We have put together a pool of eleven writers from across the country who will participate in this from week to week and they are:
So without further ado, here is our Preseason Mid-Major Top 15 Poll:
1. VCU Rams (7 First Place Votes)
VCU lost a couple of key pieces in Darius Theus and Troy Daniels, but Shaka Smart has simply reloaded. Big man Juvonte Reddic and wing Treveon Graham are both two of the best players in the Atlantic 10 and guard Briante Weber is the conference's reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Look for Melvin Johnson to step up more and for the Rams eight freshman to play a key role.
The Rams should have no problem in their Week 1 match up versus Illinois State, unless they are looking forward to their big Commonwealth showdown with Virginia.
Week 1: 11/8 vs Illinois State
2. Gonzaga Bulldogs (4)
Thirty-five teams got votes one way or another in our MM15 poll, but Gonzaga was the only other team to receive first place votes out of the lot. Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris are gone, so Kevin Pangos and a host of transfers are supposed to lead the Zags into another promising season in the WCC. Bryant will come for a visit during the first weekend of the season and the Mark Few's team should have no problem dispatching the East Coast Bulldogs.
Week 1: 11/9 vs Bryant
3. Wichita State Wheat Shockers
Expect Gregg Marshall and the Wheat Shockers to be partying this weekend. The Final Four banner goes up Saturday as the Shockers host something called Emporia State. Cleanthony Early has been touted as one of the nation's best coming into the season and we're excited to see him go off in Week 1.
Week 1: 11/9 vs Emporia State (Non-D1)
4. Saint Louis Billikens
After going 28-7 last year and winning the A10 title, Jim Crews got the full time gig at Saint Louis. Dwayne Evans, the preseason A10 Player of the Year, will lead this Billikens team into a tricky Week 1 match up versus Southeast Missouri State.
Week 1: 11/8 vs Southeast Missouri State
5. Harvard Crimson
There is a lot of chatter around Tommy Amaker's squad this preseason. Sinyani Chambers and Wes Saunders are poised to take this team a long way in the Ivy League and maybe the NCAA Tournament. Week 1 starts with a Boston area match up versus Holy Cross. The Crimson shouldn't have a tough time getting past the Crusaders.
Week 1: 11/10 vs Holy Cross
6. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
New to Conference USA their is a lot of excitement in Ruston, Louisiana for Bulldogs basketball. The team won 28 games a year ago and are expected to be in a dogfight with Southern Miss this year for the CUSA title. Out of all of MM15 teams, the Bulldogs may have one of the more challenging Week 1 match ups as they head to the West Coast to take on perennial Mid-Major power St. Mary's. The Gaels are bit embattled but still should give the Bulldogs a really good game.
Week 1: 11/8 at St. Mary's
7. La Salle Explorers
Can La Salle recapture their magic from last season or are they a one year wonder? Tyreek Duren is ready to take over as the leader of this team and is among the Atlantic 10's premier point guards. Dr. John Giannini's squad will be challenged right from the start as La Salle host's MAAC preseason favorite Manhattan in a game that should be among Week 1's best.
Week 1: 11/9 vs Manhattan
8. Southern Miss Golden Eagles
As we said before Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss are expected to go back and forth in Conference USA this season. Donnie Tyndall's team shouldn't meet too much adversity in Week 1 as they host in-state rival Jackson State.
Week 1: 11/8 vs Jackson State
9. North Dakota State Bison
Saul Phillips squad put up 24 wins a year ago and many think the Bison can run away with the Summit this year. Taylor Braun and his 15 points per game are back and he is expected to challenge for Conference Player of the Year. Not only is Braun back, but all other four of the Bison's starters. The veteran squad won't be challenged over the opening weekend as they take on a non-Division I opponent, but like Louisiana Tech they travel to St. Mary's to take on the Gaels in Week 2.
Week 1: 11/8 vs Viterbo
T-11. Towson Tigers
Pat Skerry's Tigers have been one of the more trendy teams this preseason and the preseason hype is all around Jerrelle Benimon. Benimon is coming off a year where he averaged over 17 points and 11 rebounds per game. Former Vermont sharpshooter Four McGlynn now joins the roster as Towson will open with in-state rival Navy.
Week 1: 11/8 vs Navy
T-11. BYU Cougars
The Cougars have been busy this offseason making some...errrr...questionable music videos. Brandon Davies is gone, but Tyler Haws is among the mid-major ranks best players. David Rose squad will get challenge right from the start when they face fellow MM15 team Weber State.
Week 1: 11/8 vs Weber State
12. UMass Minutemen
I've dubbed the Mintuemen's all-everything point guard Chaz Williams the nation's best pound for pound players. The UMass sparkplug wants to get the Minutement to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 and he'll start the season with a big match up for Boston area supremacy against in-state rival Boston College in the Coaches vs. Cancer Boston Tip-Off
Week 1: 11/10 vs Boston College (TD Garden)
13. Iona Gaels
A lot of fans probably would expect Manhattan to be the MAAC representative on this list, but it' Tim Cluess' Gaels in the MM15 instead of the Jaspers. Expect the Gaels to continue to play at tremendous pace with new transfers infused and Sean Armand now leading the charge in the backcourt. While MoMo Jones and his nearly 23 points per game are gone, Armand still managed to put up 16.6 points per game last year. Iona's out-of-conference schedule is a kind of who's who of mid-majors and it will start with a challenging road trip to Cleveland State.
Week 1: 11/9 at Cleveland State
14. New Mexico State Aggies
The brother's Bhullar are making the WAC proud by cracking the MM15. The Aggies are heavily favored in the WAC and are one of the rare teams playing two games over opening weekend in Honolulu. First they'll get challenged by Western Michigan of the MAC and then Tennessee State will come in the next night to try to knock the Aggies out of our poll.
Week 1: 11/8 vs Western Michigan, 11/9 vs Tennessee State
15. Weber State Wildcats
As we touched on before, Weber State is going to have to battle hard with in-state rival BYU. Davion Berry is a great guard and the Wildcats have the inside-outside game with Kyle Tresnak. Can the Wildcats hold on after Week 1 or will we have some fresh blood in the MM15 in Week 2?
Week 1: 11/18 at BYU
Others Receiving Votes: Davidson, Mercer, Montana, Indiana State, Denver, St. Mary's, Elon, Florida Gulf Coast, UW-Green Bay, St. Joseph's, Western Kentucky, Boston U., UC Santa Barbara, Delaware, Eastern Kentucky, Northern Iowa, George Mason, Richmond, San Francisco, Ohio