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How each mid major can win a game (or 2!) in the NCAA Tournament

A panel of some of your favorite MMM writers took a stab at each team within our little niche at this year’s men’s edition of the Big Dance.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Four-Fairleigh Dickinson vs Texas Southern Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It is that wonderful time of the year. A time when anything can happen.

A time for Duke to lose in a hilarious upset to a mid major, or a stalwart program that starts with the word “virgin” to lose to a spunky 16 seed. It is March (cue the Ron Jothstein music).

In honor of the great month of March Madness we (led by editor Lance and a few of our wonderful contributors including Austin Montgomery, Garrett Lash aka moderator one of NMTC_Hoops & Sam Federman) want to share why we think your favorite mid major can win a game (or two!) in the Big Dance.

Houston: I don’t need to explain why the team that should have been the top overall seed — who also totally isn’t a mid major but is kinda one, OK we get it nobody can agree — can win the NCAA Tournament. – Lance

Gonzaga: *Taps sign* not a mid major. But they have had a Few chances to swerve through the tourney. Maybe this is the time. But also probably not. – Lance

San Diego State: The Selection Committee must pay for pairing SDSU against CoC in the first round. The Aztecs play slower than I think, and CoC plays faster than I REDACTED, so I hope they both win. – Lance

Saint Mary’s: UGHHHHHH. The Committee did it again! They put a mid major against a mid major with SMC-VCU. This is another low possession matchup that will make Boomer Fathers everywhere giddy for the old days of basketball when Bob the Plumber let Pistol Pete score 50 on long 2s. – Lance

Memphis: Not a mid major but also kinda because we count Houston, so sure I will add something about the Tigers: Penny Hardaway seems like a chill guy. Memphis is a trendy pick to make a run but they gotta get past my personal second favorite Owl team, more on that now. – Lance

Florida Atlantic: The Second-Best Owls in my opinion but are a team that I picked to beat the fraudulent Purdue and big lug of a person Zach Eddey in the second round after beating the mentioned Tigers. Go FAU. – Lance

Boise State: They rebound well, defend really well and gosh darn it this team is 0-8 in the NCAA tournament and is absolutely due. Moreso than Northwestern anyway, who picked up a win in their first ever tourney. Please, Broncos. – Garretthof

Utah State: The darlings of Nerd Twitter who actually deserved their darling status almost beat SDSU in the Mountain West finals, but also lost to Weber State who didn’t even make the Big Sky finals. Unclear how they will fare against Missouri but my gut tells me white people will be angry either way. – Lance

College of Charleston: Oh CoC. If only you didn’t have to play against SDSU or else I would have you making the Final Four and being the darlings we deserved unlike the next team on this list. CoC shoots the 3 insanely well, and their coach is a madman, so this just feeeeels like a fun, spunky, wholesome Cinderella. – Lance

Oral Roberts: No one wants to give Oral to Duke. Nobody. This is a game where you truly hope both teams lose but sadly someone must win (like the Presidential election amiright). But, when you have short king Max Abmas on your team you are bound to win some games. – Lance

Drake: Despite my hatred of nepotism I will always root for a good old fashioned father-son-coach-player combo. Plus, Miami being the best(???) team in the ACC means that the league is fraudulent — sorry I don’t make the rules I just post — and due for some juicy losses. – Lance

VCU: See Saint Mary’s section above* – Lance

Kent State: This squad almost beat Houston by holding the best team in the country to 49 points so that clearly means they can beat anyone due to the transitive property or something I failed physics in college. – Lance


Mr. Rick Pitino, head coach at Iona, posing with a group of cheerleaders following a game. A man in the back left is starting into the distance likely thinking about his life choices.
Rick Pitino being Rick Pitino we assume.

Need I say more? – Sam (The MAACMan) Federman.

Furman: This team simply doesn’t miss 2-pointers — 59.1% inside the arc, tops in the nation — and basketball is about putting a ball in a rim (shouts to Joe Cravens) and also Virginia is due for a funny loss. Been too long since college basketball Twitter collectively dumped on the pack-line defense. – Lance

Louisiana: A team named the Ragin’ Cajuns deserves at least one win, and luckily for them Tennessee just lost its best player so this feels like a chance. – Lance

Kennesaw State: I am phoning a friend Regis, welcome NMTC moderators: Vanquished top-50 Liberty (barf, but also rejoice!) twice; won 16 of 18 games and are the only team in the tournament making their first appearance. The perfect Cinderella. That is enough to root for the top Owls in the tournament. Hooty MF Hoo all. (Also, NMTC founder Rodger Sherman picked the Owls and he is never wrong.) – Lance & NMTC

UC Santa Barbara: – You got the good Texas Christian University vs the school that parties their faces off. What a matchup! They are playing on Saint Patrick’s day of all days. You aren’t going to see a sober soul in Isla Vista Friday morning when this game tips off. Ajay Mitchell is going to give the Gauchos the spirit to make a bunch of poor choices on a Friday night. Before Covid, Scott Drew forgot how to coach in March. Let’s see if he regresses to his true nature. – Austin

Grand Canyon: GCU comes into the tournament fully prepared bringing all their band and cheer equipment while leaving their practice gear in Phoenix. – Austin

Montana State: Should have been Northern Arizona. Not my Big Sky champs. (OK but seriously, the Cats can win a game or two only because their SID Kyle Cajero once upon a time wrote for this blog. We love Kyle here, forever and always.) – Lance

Vermont: A Twitter friend of mine is a Marquette fan and he knows pain. True pain would be the Golden Eagles showing they are fools gold and the Shaka Smart experiment ending in tragedy. But, really, f— Vermont they are the villains in NMTC expanded lore along with the Dakota schools. – Lance

Colgate: When was the last time you fully – and I mean completely – got through a tube of toothpaste? Maybe you left it behind on a trip, maybe you saw a new mint-infused flavor at the store that you really wanted to try – but here’s the thing about toothpaste tubes: They’re never actually done. Every time you think they’re done, you can squeeze a little bit more out of them. You think Colgate was going to fade away after three competitive losses in the NCAA Tournament? Think again: now a year older, wiser, and still able to shoot the 3, they may have something you didn’t even know was there. – Garrett

Princeton: I guess one day all these nerds will be our bosses, or journalists at elite media companies, so maybe I should be nice. Arizona is a meh school academically because the Grand Canyon State has weird issues with public education, so the nerds will outsmart the Cats (or more likely, get shoved in a locker before calling their lawyer fathers). – Lance

UNC Asheville: If I hear Drew Pember one more time I will Van Gogh myself, but Drew Pember’s name is everywhere for a reason. Drew Pember can play, and UCLA’s best all-around defender is out (and the Bruins’ best big man might be out as well.) Drew Pember just might be able to lift the Bulldogs to victory. Pember Pember Pember Pember Pemb – Garrett.

Northern Kentucky: The Norse already won the Battle of Scandinavia when they defeated the Cleveland State Vikings in the Horizon League Championship. A gaggle of dudes with swords should be able to take down some Cougars. (Insert SpongeBob Leaf Erickson’s Day Dot Meme here.) – ????

Howard: When was the last time a 16-seed from the DMV played a 1-seed? Oh yeah, it was that game. (I sense people are going to get mad at me for lumping in Baltimore County with the “DMV” but lay off please, we’re just having fun.) Also, they have the almighty power of Kamala Harris behind them. – Garrett

Texas A&M Corpus Christi: WELL THEY ALREADY DID SO WE DON’T NEED TO WRITE ANYMORE EXCEPT THAT I HOPE THEY BEAT ALABAMA BECAUSE THEIR FANS ARE THE ABSOLUTE WORST (SEE PROOF HERE). Also, TA&MCC is a literal island that will be swallowed by climate change soon enough so they need as many wins as they can get before then. – Lance

Texas Southern: The Tigers’ record might as well be randomly generated by Ken Pomeroy himself in some dungeon somewhere. 28-5? Sure. 2-37? Absolutely. It doesn’t really matter what their record is during the regular season, they always make it to the tournament anyway with a team that usually looks way better (or different anyway) than their record. So don’t mind that they’re 13-20, that’s just a simulation, as is life. – Garrett

Fairleigh Dickinson: Well, I don’t know who Fairleigh is and why their Dick is In someone’s Son but that sure is a bold strategy to winning basketball games! – Lance