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Mid-major madness?

Is it a shock Butler is in the Final Four? Yes and no.

Yes, it is a shock. There were some people out there (me included) who thought Butler was going to get picked off by UTEP. Not only that, but to win four games against top competition for four games is a lot to ask of a "mid-major".

No, it's not a shock. Butler isn't a school that's exactly new to the NCAA Tournament. With nine NCAA appearances in the last 13 years, including three strips to the Sweet 16 and now a Final Four appearance, Butler can consider itself far and above being a "mid-major".

Which brings us to the ultimate question. How do you define the term mid-major? Most of us define the mid-major as any school not among the six BCS (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Big East, PAC-10, SEC) conferences.

If that's the case, are schools like Gonzaga, Temple, Xavier, Butler, Memphis, which are tournament regulars, mid-majors? I'm sure some of those schools scoff at the idea of being called a mid-major.

How about schools like BYU or UNLV? For UNLV that's a tough question to answer. Under Jerry Tarkanian, the Rebels made four trips to the Final Four and won a title in 1990. Since the departure of Tarkanian, it hasn't been all roses. But the program is still a viable one.

Under Lon Kruger, the Rebels have made the tournament three times in the last four years. That includes a Sweet 16 appearance in 2007. BYU has also become a tourney regular with seven appearances in the last 10 years.

Prior to joining the Big East, Louisville was a member of Conference USA. Before that it was the Metro. Were the Cardinals a mid-major back then?  

If you use the NCAA Tournament to define programs, which many of us do now, then you can't consider schools like Butler, Gonzaga, Xavier, Temple, Memphis part of the mid-major contingent.

In fairness, these shocking tournament games are possible because every team, with the exception of a handful of independents, has an equal chance at making the tournament. If you win your conference tournament championship, you're in.  


New York Sports