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NBCSports.com’s 2013-2014 Mid-Major Power Rankings

Oct 9, 2013, 6:00 PM EST

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists,click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Prior to delving into the power rankings, it is important to identify who we are considering “mid-majors” this season, especially after realignment saw many teams jump from one conference to another during the offseason. The following conferences are not included in any mid-major discussion: AAC, Atlantic 10, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Mountain West and Pac-12. The WCC is still considered a mid-major league with the exclusion of Brigham Young, Gonzaga, and St. Mary’s.

Oh, and Conference USA? You’ve been relegated.

(MORE: Click here to see NBCSports.com’s Mid-Major All-Americans)

1) Wichita State: With Creighton departing for the Big East, the class of the Missouri Valley now resides in Wichita. Cleanthony Early returns for his senior season, and Gregg Marshall welcomes two more junior college transfers to the roster in Darius Carter and Nick Wiggins. Keep an eye on Louisiana-Lafayette transfer Kadeem Coleby as well. In the backcourt, sophomores Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet return. Wichita State is a “high-major” program in the quintessential “mid-major” league.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2013

2) Harvard: Fresh off their first NCAA Tournament win in school history, Harvard enters the season a fringe Top 25 team. Graduation only claimed Christian Webster, and the Crimson more than replace the void he left by welcoming Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry back to the team and adding highly touted recruit Zena Edosomwan. Many BCS teams are jealous with the talent Tommy Amaker has to work with in the frontcourt.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2013

3) Southern Mississippi: If not for a double overtime loss to Memphis in last year’s Conference USA tournament, Southern Miss. would have been dancing for the second straight season. With Memphis off to the AAC, however, it is now the Golden Eagle’s time to shine. They’ll be led by dynamite point guard Neil Watson along with his running mate in the backcourt Jerrold Brooks. Southern Miss. should own the new-look Conference USA.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2012

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AP photo

4) Indiana State: For parts of last season, it looked like Indiana State would have a shot to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. With early season wins against Mississippi and Miami (FL) and conference wins against Creighton and Wichita State, the Sycamores had a good looking resume. Losing five of their final six regular season games dashed those hopes. Jake Odum, who led Indiana State to the NCAA Tournament as a freshman, is back for his senior season, along with three other starters from last year’s team.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2011

5) Denver: Remember the name Chris Udofia. The senior guard has been a fixture in Denver’s lineup since his freshman season, and may very well be the top player in the Summit League, the Pioneers’ first season in their new digs. Joe Scott, with a slow and methodical offense that gives opponents fits, has built Denver into one of the top mid-major programs. Denver has never reached the NCAA Tournament, but that may change this year.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: N/A

6) Towson: Two seasons ago, Towson posted a 1-31 record. This season, they are the team to beat in the CAA. Pat Skerry is building Towson up through the transfer route, landing Jerrelle Benimon (Georgetown), one of the best big men in the country and Four McGlynn (Vermont), a sharpshooter who’s now eligible. With the APR issues now in the rear view mirror, Towson has their sights set on the NCAA Tournament.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 1991

7) North Dakota State: Denver’s primary challenger in the Summit comes in the form of North Dakota State. With Oakland’s move to the Horizon League, the door is now open at the top. The Bison return all five starters from a team that won 24 games last season. Taylor Braun, TrayVonn Wright and Mike Felt are all back for their senior season, along with junior Lawrence Alexander — not many mid-major units out there shoot from the perimeter as well as these four. North Dakota State is a very deep and experienced team.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2009

8) UTEP: Despite graduating key backcourt players Jacques Streeter and Konner Tucker, the Miners return Julian Washburn and John Bohannon who make for the top frontcourt in Conference USA. Complementing Washburn and Bohannon is Cedrick Lang who came on towards the end of last season. Tim Floyd will have his best team yet in El Paso even without Isaac Hamilton.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2010

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Reuters

9) Florida Gulf Coast: Ah yes, Dunk City. There’s a new leader at Florida Gulf Coast as long time Kansas assistant Joe Dooley takes over for Andy Enfield, but the high-flying Eagles shouldn’t miss a beat. In just their sixth season as a Division 1 basketball program, Florida Gulf Coast took the NCAA Tournament by storm defeating Georgetown and San Diego State in convincing fashion. While they lose their top player, Sherwood Brown, from last year’s team, many other pieces are back, including point guard Brett Comer. Marquette transfer Jamail Jones is now eligible and will add to this year’s dunk total.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2013

10) Northern Iowa: Head coach Ben Jacobson has yet to lead Northern Iowa back to the NCAA Tournament following their magical 30 win season and Sweet 16 appearance in 2010, but the Panthers are poised for a big season with Deon Mitchell and Seth Tuttle returning.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2013

11) Boston University: In their first year in the Patriot League, the Terriers will be the prohibitive favorite to win the league. The combination of D.J. Irving and Maurice Watson in the backcourt is one of the best among mid-majors.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2011

12) Wright State: All five starters return from a team that was minutes away from defeating Valparaiso and advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2007

13) Manhattan: The Jaspers were a popular pick to win the MAAC last season, but then star point guard George Beamon went down with a season-ending injury after playing just four games. With Beamon back, Steve Masiello will have success not seen since the Bobby Gonzalez years.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2004

14) Eastern Kentucky: Belmont coasted through the Ohio Valley in their first season, but after graduating three of their top players they figure to regress. Eastern Kentucky returns six of their top seven scorers from a team that won 25 games last season.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2007

15) Georgia State: Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow is immediately eligible and joins an already potent backcourt consisting of R.J. Hunter, and Devonta White, along with swingman Manny Atkins who transferred from Virginia Tech after the 2010-11 season. The Panthers will be immediate contenders in the Sun Belt.

Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2001

Ten more to watch: New Mexico State, College of Charleston, Wagner, Weber State, Akron, Belmont, South Alabama, San Francisco, Toledo, Tulsa

  1. wilhelmme - Oct 9, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    Probably an oversight (or East coast bias), but you left out the Pac-12 from your high major list.

  2. georgewashingtonsghost - Oct 9, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    I didn’t see it listed but since none of their teams made the list, I assume the Mountain West was not considered “mid-major” either.

  3. georgewashingtonsghost - Oct 9, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Towson is a great story. I hope they are as good as you think they’ll be.

  4. jmoney34 - Oct 9, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    How can part of a conference be mid major?

    • Kevin Doyle - Oct 10, 2013 at 9:14 AM

      It’s a good question.

      When you have Gonzaga spending in excess of $6 million a year on their basketball program and compare that to Portland or Pepperdine who are just over a shade of $2 million, it’s really apples to oranges.

      Gonzaga funds their program as if they were in the Pac-12, while the bottom spenders in the WCC spend like true mid-majors.

  5. bigskybball - Oct 10, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    I am thinking and hoping that Weber State will climb up the list as the season goes along. They should be deep and versatile… they should have one of the strongest frontcourts in the mid-major ranks, and a lot of athletic guys. Last year they were great at shooting the 3 and stopping opponents from shooting 3s… if that continues, they will be very dangerous!

  6. sleepyshock - Oct 10, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Please leave Wichita State OFF the list. To be called a mid major is a slap in the face. You left St. Mary’s off the list for goodness sakes. Even you called us a “high major” program, just leave us OFF.

    • Rob Dauster - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      No

  7. Kevin Doyle - Oct 10, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Wichita State is on a real hot streak and they’re one of the top programs right now, but let’s get real. Aside from the past five years or so, they’ve been the prototypical mid-major — a strong season and NCAA Tournament run every so often, but nothing more.

    Should we review what the 20 year stretch from 1989 – 2009 looked like? 1 NCAA Tournament appearance and three 20 win seasons. Fact is, they were pretty mediocre prior to Mark Turgeon.

    • angrywheatftw - Oct 11, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      Kevin Doyle,

      South Carolina hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 1973. Northwestern has never appeared in an NCAA tournament game. Nebraska has never won an NCAA tournament game, the last time they even made the tournament was 1998. Oregon State last won an NCAA game in 1982, and they haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 1991. Rutgers last won an NCAA game in 1983. TCU has one victory in the NCAA tournament back in 1997. St. John’s hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2000. Iowa, Penn State and Mississippi’s last NCAA tournament win was in 2001. Georgia 2002, Auburn 2003.

      So based on your logic, these are all mid-majors. Why didn’t you include them on your list then? The only thing mid-major is your article. Do your homework and stop making assumptions based on conference affiliation. Wichita State would absolutely wipe the floor with 75% of the “major” basketball programs in the country.
      —————————————–
      Wheatshockers.com

    • angrywheatftw - Oct 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      And furthermore, our basketball budget is higher than a lot of BCS schools. We pay our coach 1.75 million for Pete’s sake. He flies on a private jet for recruiting, has a budget of over half a million to pay his assistants, and our players play in front of a packed house of 10.5K every night. All their road trips are by chartered plane and the facilities they enjoy at Wichita State have been compared to some NBA teams. Educate yourself.
      ———————————————
      Wheatshockers.com

  8. hawkfather - Oct 10, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    Nick Wiggins played for the Shox last year, albeit sparingly. Hoping he buys in at the defensive end and earns himself some more minutes this upcoming season.

  9. dj446 - Oct 12, 2013 at 6:20 PM

    You have no criteria that defines a mid-major program. It is completely subjective and biased. What a sham!

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