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Some mid-majors will be left out of tourney
Anyone looking for the next Cinderella squad can just keep on looking, because you aren’t likely to find many mid or low majors equipped to make a run.
The Atlantic-10, thanks to the addition of VCU and Butler, could end up with as many as five teams in the NCAA Tournament. But we aren’t going to include the A-10 in this piece because it’s a league that sends multiple teams to the tournament on a yearly basis. In fact, many A-10 teams don’t even consider themselves mid-major programs.
Based on what we’ve seen this season, the Missouri Valley Conference has the best chance of any mid-major league to get more than one team into the tournament. Wichita State (18-2) and Creighton (17-3) are quality teams that should have no problem getting at-large bids should one not win the conference tournament.
The Mountain West Conference could be a multi-bid league if UNLV (16-4) or San Diego (15-4) can finish their seasons strong. New Mexico (17-2, 4-2) sits in first place and appears to be on its way to the tournament even if they can’t win the conference tournament title.
UNLV’s best wins came against Iowa State and San Diego State. So it looks as if the Rebels have some work to do. San Diego State beat UCLA and lost by one to Arizona.
Gonzaga (18-2) is a safe bet to come out of the West Coast Conference. St. Mary’s (16-4) and BYU (15-6) have been NCAA regulars in recent seasons, but neither has any quality wins to speak of and could be shut out at tournament selection time if they don’t win the WCC tournament.
The CAA, a league many thought turned the corner when VCU made the Final Four, doesn’t have any at-large bid candidates.
The same could be said for Conference USA. Memphis is 15-3, but has just one win (Tennessee) over a major-conference program. Southern Miss is 16-4, but like Memphis has just one win (Georgia) over a mid-major team.
Don’t look for Iona (13-7) or anyone out of the MAAC to steal an at-large bid either. Niagara (12-8, 8-1) is in first place, but doesn’t have any quality wins to boast.
The MAC, Ivy and Horizon won’t have any at-large bids either. Don’t expect Davidson (12-7) or Charleston (13-7) to get in if they can’t win the Southern Conference tournament.
This will be a tournament that features the rich and powerful dominating the field.