ESPN continued its preseason tradition earlier yesterday morning of releasing its first set of “no longer way too early” rankings heading into the 2016-17 college basketball season. It’s an intriguing list that sets the table for what’s to come this year.
The mid-major conferences found themselves well represented on the list with three ranked teams and three more in the honorable mention category. Obviously, this speaks to just how exciting this season should be for mid-major fans.
Here’s a full look at the mid-major teams list below.
Mid-Major Teams In 10/6 ESPN Top 25 Rankings:
- #11 - Gonzaga Bulldogs
- #16 - Saint Mary’s Gaels
- #20 - Rhode Island Rams
- Honorable Mention - Dayton Flyers, San Diego State Aztecs, Wichita State Shockers
There certainly was nothing surprising about seeing any of the ranked teams make the cut, but it was interesting to see Saint Mary’s landing at No. 16 in the rankings. While the Gaels did some nice things last year, the team still didn’t make the NCAA Tournament and finished at No. 34 on KenPom’s ratings.
However, the one thing that should make Gael fans optimistic is that the team went 22-9 last year despite finishing at No. 331 in KenPom’s experience rating. As such, it’s pretty easy to see a scenario where Saint Mary’s lands at No. 16 (or better) due to the increased experience on the roster this year.
While some fans might have hoped to see a few more teams make the cut, getting three teams into the rankings and three into the honorable mention category speaks to what should be an exciting season across college basketball.
This is particularly true given that several of these teams will matchup this year, including a showdown between Dayton and Saint Mary’s and a road trip for San Diego State against Gonzaga. There should be plenty of great basketball to watch.
If you’re interested in reading the full rankings, you can see them here.