Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 1:37 PM
When Wichita State takes on Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, the 35-0 Shockers—the only college basketball team in history to be undefeated after that many games—will, win or lose, still be stigmatized and disrespected because it is a “mid-major” that obviously just got lucky to get here.
Yes, the Shockers have put their name in the history books at 35-0.
Yes, the Shockers went to the NCAA Final Four last season, where they lost by four points to a Louisville team that went on to win the national championship.
Yes, the Shockers won the NIT the season before.
But, really fans, that means little. This team from Wichita, Kansas, is a “mid-major” and that means they will never be good enough to be mentioned in the same sentence with “majors” such as Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Duke or Oklahoma.
Legions of critics say the Shockers are not as good as their performances over the past three seasons—especially this year—because they played a “weak” schedule—and certainly did not deserve to be one of four #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, along with Florida, Virginia or Arizona—or even #2seeds such as Villanova, Kansas, Wisconsin and Michigan.
In fact, they should not even be spoken about the same conversation about #3 seeds Syracuse, Iowa State, Creighton or Duke.
This is 2014 and it is time the term “mid-major” was dropped when it refers to college basketball, because there are no such things as mid-majors. Some teams may play in conferences that have a higher number of better teams but not all the teams in these conferences deserve the “major” label.
For instance, in the Atlantic Coast Conference, “major” power Virginia went 29-6 and won the conference championship. Virginia Tech is also a “major” in the ACC and finished last at 9-22. In the Big 12 Kansas won the conference title and has a 25-9 record—certainly figures of a true “major”. Meantime, TCU finished last in the Big 12 at 9-22 and still is considered a “major”.
You have the same situation in all conferences—some good teams, a lot of average teams and some bad teams.
The bottom line is: Every single college basketball team should be judged on is merits and not by some media-driven standard that says there are “major” and “mid-major” conferences.
Before going on with the major vs. mid-major conversation, let’s take a brief commercial brea because today is a big day in NCAA Tournament play for me and for my clients
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Results Speak Louder Than Words In Major vs. Mid-Major Discussion
The so-called mid-majors have made many bold statements in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Those results speak for themselves.
- #14 seed Mercer (27-8) of the Atlantic Sun Conference knocked off #3 seed Duke (26-9) of the Atlantic Coast Conference, 78-71.
- #12 seed Stephen F. Austin (32-2) of the Southland Conference defeated #5 seed Virginia Commonwealth (26-9) of the Atlantic 10 Conference, 77-75.
- #12 seed North Dakota State (26-6) of the Summit Conference beat #5 Oklahoma (23-10) of the Big 12 Conference, 80-75.
And the beat goes on.
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Sunday’s NIT Schedule
Saint Mary’s (23-11) at Minnesota (21-13)
Illinois (20-14) at Clemson (21-12)
Southern Miss (28-6) at Missouri (23-11)
My Reasons For Picking My Final Four Teams That All Won Their Opening Games
The NCAA Tournament to determine college basketball’s national championship officially gets underway today with the 64 participating teams living with the pressure of having to win every game to advance. It’s the reality of one-and-done, as in lose one game and go home. My projected Final Four –Florida, Wichita State, Wisconsin and Virginia.
Why these four—because they have all the requirements to go the distance.
- Each plays tremendous defense, with Virginia ranked #1 of 345 teams while giving up an average of 55.3 points per game. Florida is ranked third (57.9 points), Wichita State 11th (59.6) and Wisconsin 48th (64.6). Defense is all important because if a team is struggling offensively in a game, its defense should still be there
- Each team has outstanding point guards—another absolute requirement to get it done. The point guard runs the offense—the field general, if you will—and his efficiency in setting up each play wins games.
- Each team is loaded with blue-chip talent that proved this season it could compete with and beat the best
- Each team has an outstanding coach, all armed with the ability of coming with a game plan to win, regardless of the style of play of the opponent, and then has the ability to change it if it is not working. All four coaches are also great sideline coaches
- Each team takes the floor believing it can win, cannot be intimidated, is afraid of no one and remains intensely focused from start to finish, and plays its game with absolute confidence whether in front or behind during every game.