Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten, Villanova, Siena, and Grand Canyon headline this weeks Sunday Mailbag

Another week in the books which means it is time for another Sunday Mailbag. There are great questions this week.

Connecticut v Villanova
Connecticut v Villanova / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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True Mid-Major most likely to get an at large bid? – Brian Rauf (@brauf33)

To answer this question properly, let's define what I think is meant by true Mid-Major. In my view that means we are going to discount the American and Gonzaga because those teams are close to being high majors and operate as power schools just are not in a power conference, at least yet. That leaves the rest of the West Coast Conference, the Mountain West, Atlantic 10, and all of the low major schools outside of those conferences. 

Then we need to remember that most of the low major conferences are going to be a one bid league. That excludes the Atlantic Sun, America East, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Horizon League, MAAC, MEAC, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Southern, Southland, SWAC, and the Summit League. These are typically almost always one bid leagues. That brings the mid-majors down to the Atlantic 10, CAA, Conference USA, The Ivy League, MAC, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, Sun Belt, West Coast outside of Gonzaga, and the WAC. Those are the conferences that have a reasonable shot at multiple bids most years. This year though let's focus on two teams one from the West Coast Conference and one from the WAC. 

Saint Mary's was picked to win the West Coast Conference regular season and that appears to be a reality. They are the best team in that league by a lot but it is what happens in the tournament that matters. What if the Gonzaga Bulldogs win the league tournament and get the automatic bid, where does that leave the Gaels?  The Gaels will likely still get into the tournament provided the game they lose in the conference tournament is to Gonzaga. The Gaels are currently in the top 20 of the NET and have great resume metrics which would put them in the field today. Most brackets are assuming that Saint Mary's gets the automatic bid into the Tournament by winning the league title but bet against Gonzaga at your own peril. Saint Mary's will likely receive an at-large into the NCAA tournament if that were the case.

The other team to focus on who is a team that is very intriguing in the at large conversation is the Grand Canyon Antelopes. The Lopes currently sit at 18-2 and have a 3-1 record over quad 1 and 2. They have beaten San Diego State, San Francisco, and Liberty for their quad 1 and 2 wins. Their losses are a quad 1 to South Carolina and a quad 3 game at Seattle which is going to hurt a little bit. If Grand Canyon can run the table in the league and make the league championship game that would put them at about 30-3 overall heading into the NCAA tournament that record is going to be very hard to ignore. They are by far the best team in the WAC and they may not get challenged much the rest of the way until Selection Sunday. Keep a very close eye on the Lopes to make a deep run into March. Grand Canyon has second weekend talent but they have to take care of their business first and qualify.