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A little mid-major magic?
Earlier this season we posted a story on how this could be a down year for mid-major programs. Not including the Atlantic-10, which doesn’t consider itself a mid-major league, the situation has changed. Nearly a dozen mid-major teams have a shot at an at-large bid if they fall short of a conference tournament championship.
We'll also leave out Memphis (22-3), which doesn't really consider itself a mid-major.
Perennial mid-major giant Gonzaga is the No. 3 team in both the AP and Coaches polls, while West Coast conference foe Saint Mary’s (22-5) has made a strong case, although the Gaels lack any marquee non-conference wins. BYU (20-8) might have still been in the picture, but came up short in its three big non-conference games against Florida State, Notre Dame and Baylor.
New Mexico (22-4) is having a fabulous season and Colorado State (21-4) is now a favorite to win an at-large bid out of the Mountain West Conference. San Diego State (19-7) and UNLV (19-7) are also still in the mix, but both will need to go on a serious season-ending run.
Wichita State (23-5) with wins over VCU and Iowa and Creighton (22-6), whichever one doesn’t win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, is likely to grab an at-large bid.
Belmont (20-6), if it doesn’t win the Ohio Valley tournament, is also a factor. Louisiana Tech (23-3) has run roughshod through the WAC, but the Bulldogs might need to at least get to the WAC tournament final due to their lack of quality non-conference wins.
Stephen F. Austin (21-3), which won at Oklahoma, is certainly on the at-large radar. But the Lumberjacks may have to get to the Southland conference tournament final.
The case for Stony Brook: The Seawolves with a current RPI of 94 (through Sunday) and a strength of schedule of 276, would’ve made a small dent on the at-large radar if they could’ve come through against Seton Hall, Maryland and Connecticut. Losing to Sacred Heart in November also hurt.