Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball Ranking of top 10 mid-major winners of 2024 offseason

McNeese v Gonzaga
McNeese v Gonzaga / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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No. 1: McNeese State

Last offseason, McNeese State took a chance on disgraced former LSU coach Will Wade, who had been fired by the Tigers in 2022 following multiple NCAA-related violations. Since then, Wade has awarded McNeese State in big a way. The Cowboys went 30-4 in their first season under Will Wade, picking up multiple solid non-conference wins before tearing through the Southland Conference with a 17-1 conference record and ultimately punching their first NCAA tournament berth in over 20 years.

Since the season has ended, the Cowboys have only gotten stronger in the portal and have added several solid players in the portal. Among these additions includes former St. Louis guard Sincere Parker, former Georgetown and Ole Miss forward Brandon Murray, former Syracuse guard Quadir Copeland, former Louisiana forward Joe Charles, and former Texas A&M Commerce forward Jerome Brewer. It's an extremely impressive haul that includes multiple key rotation players from high-major programs, something with few other majors can say.

Of these additions, Quadir Copeland may be the most impressive add of them all. Copeland is coming off a sophomore season at Syracuse that saw him average 9.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 2.8 apg while shooting nearly 48% from the field. Additionally, Copeland finished second in the ACC sixth man of the year vote, only losing out to Ishmael Leggett of Pittsburgh. While in the transfer portal, a lot of big-name schools, including Kansas, Kansas State, and Mississippi State, were all interested in the addition of Copeland's services. But despite the odds, Will Wade & co. were able to lure Copeland to Lake Charles, and Copeland will be one of the Cowboy's most crucial pieces this coming season.

But outside of Quadir Copeland, several of McNeese's other portal additions had several offers from one or more strong power conference programs, but still opted to join McNeese. It has proven that even in the new era of the transfer portal, mid-majors can still get stronger in the portal, even if the odds are against them.

On top of cleaning up in the portal, McNeese has added some huge non-conference opportunities to their schedule in recent weeks, including matchups with both Alabama and Mississippi State, and will also be participating in the Paradise Jam tournament around Thanksgiving.

With all of the adds McNeese has made this offseason, they look primed to further improve on this year's 30-4 campaign and if their new pieces mesh well together, the Cowboys will likely be one of the top mid-majors in the country in the 2024-25 season.