clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mid-Major Madness Twitter Mailbag: New year, same us

Let’s start the new year off right by answering your questions.

NCAA Basketball: Vermont at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the calendar has turned and you have a fresh start to the year, it’s time to get started on those New Year’s resolutions. If we can do it, so can you.

In 2018, we plan on arguing less on Twitter, putting more than five minutes of prep into our podcasts, and finally acknowledging that Gonzaga isn’t a mid-major school. Just kidding. We aren’t doing any of that.

What we will do, however, is continue to answer your questions from Twitter. Let’s get to the first Twitter mailbag of 2018.

There’s two ways to look at this question: best as in most talented or best as in putting up great numbers. I’ll try to combine both and just list off some freshmen that I’ve enjoyed so far this year:

  • Brandon McCoy (UNLV)
  • Fatts Russell (Rhode Island)
  • Zach Norvell (Gonzaga)
  • David Jenkins (South Dakota State)
  • RJ Cole (Howard)
  • Kobe Webster (Western Illinois)
  • Marcus Burk (Campbell)

Let’s exclude the WCC, Atlantic 10 and Mountain West from this discussion as those leagues still have a chance at being multi-bid leagues. Of the remaining conferences, here are the five I’m most intrigued by this year:

  1. Missouri Valley: It’s damn near impossible to pin down who the favorite is. Missouri State, Northern Iowa and Loyola are probably the favorites, but I could easily be talked into somebody like Bradley winning it.
  2. MAC: Ball State and Buffalo are both really good teams, and having them in two separate divisions could lead to a collision course in the conference tournament.
  3. Summit League: High powered offenses, regional rivalries, and a conference tournament that always delivers. What’s not to like?
  4. Ivy: It’s similar to the MVC in that it’s hard to predict who the favorite is. Plus, the four team tournament format is going to ensure that the top teams are duking it out for the league’s only bid.
  5. Conference USA: I want to see if anybody can take down Middle Tennessee. Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion could all have a shot.

This is the real answer though:

I’m stepping on Greg’s territory by taking WAC questions, but I’ll try to do a few.

Grand Canyon’s should be to continue to pound the hype machine to distract people from the fact that they haven’t really done anything of note yet this year.

New Mexico State’s should be to own the WAC again and show again that they’ve become the best program in the state.

Chicago State’s should be to not worry about athletics and to try to remain an accredited university.

For sure. They probably won’t go undefeated like last year, but I don’t think that was going to be the case even with Lamb. The real question is if they’ll win the regular season title. Albany is really good, and if they get the top seed in the tournament they’ll get home court advantage in a potential title game meeting. If I were a betting man, I’d still say Vermont gets the bid, but I’m not sure how confident I’d feel about it.

The good teams just aren’t as good as they’ve been in recent years. Monmouth obviously lost a ton from last year, and the same can be said for Saint Peter’s. Iona has had a couple of losses to some good teams, so they’re probably a little bit better than their record shows. Without a dominant team, it might feel like the league is down, but I don’t think it’s any worse as a whole than it’s been in recent years.

I’m pretty confident in saying that it will probably be either South Dakota or South Dakota State. I love what Craig Smith has done with the Coyotes, and they’ve been the best team in the league so far to me. Plus, as a member of the Never Made the Tournament Club, they have that extra chip on their shoulder. On the other hand, South Dakota State has Mike Daum, which is terrifying to face in a tournament setting.

It’s highly, highly unlikely that Conference USA is a multi-big league. It would probably require Middle Tennessee to run the table and lose in the conference championship game, but even that’s probably not enough. I mentioned above that Western Kentucky, Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech are contenders, and I’d throw UAB and Marshall in that mix too.

Love the Wolfpack. I could see them being a second weekend team if they get the right matchup. They’re fun, versatile and have as much talent as any mid-major in the country. Let’s hope that Musselman stays there and builds into a perennial power.

It’s hard to pick a favorite because my mid-major arena experiences are exclusively limited to Indiana schools. However, our official Mid-Major Madness road trip will be heading to Philadelphia in February to see some games, which I’m very excited for. A few other places it’d be great to see a game at: Dayton, BYU, Northern Kentucky, Grand Canyon, etc.