As we near Selection Sunday and the NCAA Tournament Field of 68, the age-old Bracketology question of whether mid-major basketball teams get enough love from the Selection Committee will be in full swing. Which mid-major programs are in contention for an at-large selection from the Committee?
Every year around this time, college hoops junkies and Bracketology pundits rekindle the debate that rages throughout conference tournaments and into Selection Sunday and beyond: why does the Selection Committee hate mid-major basketball programs?
Now, to be fair, not everyone characterizes the debate in that way. For some, the issue is more along the lines of: why don’t mid-majors play anyone? Detractors retort with barbs about schedule strength and supporters lob verbal grenades about Power 5 schools being scared of losing. Rinse. Repeat. Hello March, my old friend!
Still, there are mid-majors that have become brands unto themselves and have shown the way for the next crop of burgeoning programs (here’s looking at you, Zags!). It is possible to be a mid-major program and have your body of work recognized by the Committee.
Just last year, Belmont, from the Ohio Valley Conference, received an at-large bid from the Committee, defeating Temple in the play-in round before falling to Maryland in a close 6-11 battle. And UNC Greensboro from the Southern Conference came oh-so-close to hearing its name called as an at-large selection before its dreams were dashed by the unexpected Pac-12 tournament championship run by Oregon.
As the automatic bids continue to be handed out this week, the pot from which the at-large Bracketology selections will be made will become clearer. Let’s examine the eight mid-major teams who may be evaluated for at-large selection by the Committee.