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. 8: UC Santa Barbara

Much like some of the other teams on this list, the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara have flown under the radar in the portal - but have quietly been adding several solid pieces throughout the portal. After finishing 16-15 this past season, the Gauchos have brought in several new faces while only losing a couple of players from last year's team.

UCSB's transfer class includes Stetson guard Stephan Swenson, Vanderbilt forward Colin Smith, Wichita State center Kenny Pohto, Stanford forward Max Murrell, and UC San Diego guard Deuce Turner. It's a portal class filled with both younger players and veterans with years of experience. Among the additions, Colin Smith looks to be one of the top new faces for the Gauchos. Smith averaged 7.1 ppg and 6.6 rpg through his first seven games in his sophomore year last season before going down with an Achilles injury that ultimately ended his season. Nonetheless, he has generated significant interest in the transfer portal and will be a huge addition to the Gauchos' frontcourt.

Swenson on the other hand joins the Gauchos for his final year of eligibility after averaging 13.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 5.8 apg last season with a Stetson team that made their first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament. Deuce Turner, Max Murrell and Kenny Pohto started in roughly half (or less than half) of their respective team's games this year but made the most of their roles off the bench and put up some decent numbers last year.

Along with the incoming portal class, incoming freshman guard ZZ Clark will join the Gauchos this year. Clark is another strong pickup for UCSB who generated a significant amount of recruiting interest, including interest from several high major programs across the country. The Chatsworth, California native will look to earn a solid role in his freshman year and has the potential to make an immediate impact on the team.

The Gauchos have won the Big West and made the NCAA tournament twice in the past four years, most recently in 2023. After a down year last season, the Gauchos look as if they have reloaded this offseason and look ready to reclaim the Big West crown next season.