The Mid - Major Debate Settled

By Steve DiMiceli 
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Like most fans of Atlantic 10 schools, the word mid major is like nails to the chalk board when it's used to describe your school. Nothing annoys us more then when that blanket term is used to describe our team. To some fans, it's an honor to be considered to a mid major or end up on a list of mid majors. To others, it's an insult.

I think lazy or big program centered journalists and fans throw the mid major  label around too liberally and use it to simply describe schools as "not BCS." Clearly there are more tiers than just BCS and mid major. While there are some conferences that disdain the term, there are some too small to deserve it as well. I would suggest that three labels, high major, top mid major and small conference, are missing from the college hoops lexicon. So where do you draw the lines? I have some thoughts after the jump.

BCS - SEC, Big 10, Big 12, ACC, Big East, PAC 12

Pretty clearly defined here and no real need for discussion. These guys are the big money programs thanks to their cash infusion from big time football. They dominate post season tournaments.

High Major - Mountain West, Atlantic 10, Conference USA, MAC, WAC (for now)

Here we have the conferences a step ahead of the mid majors in terms of support and revenue. In the case of the MAC and WAC it's because of football not basketball. The basketball centered conferences have the potential to sneak into the top 6 every couple of years when one of the BCS conferences are having an off year. One school from these conferences usually makes the elite 8 every year or every other year. For the more basketball oriented conferences, they can expect multiple bids almost every year. These schools have some power to retain coaches, but usually they are still stepping stone jobs to the biggest programs.

Top Mid Major -  Missouri Valley, Colonial, Horizon, West Coast, Sunbelt

These conferences have some elite talent and very good programs. They're often one bid conferences, but it is certainly possible that they'll be able to send one or two aside from their champion on a given year. They have teams who could easily be the higher seed in the NCAA tournament and generally speaking are always Cinderella threats when they're the low seeds. Generally, the coaching positions in these conferences are feeders to bigger programs. Sunbelt is included for Division 1 football.

Mid Major - Ivy, MAAC, Atlantic Sun, Patriot,  Southern, America East, Big South, Summit, Big West *

Generally, the conference champions are 13-14 and higher 15 seeds. Rarely do they send more than one. Usually at least two of these conference champions win their first round game. Most years each conference has one team in the top 100 RPI.

Small Conferences - NEC, Big Sky, Southland, Ohio Valley, MEAC, SWAC, Great West

What can I say. These are your 15-16 seeds. Maybe every forth or fifth year they'll send someone post season higher than a 15. Not often is there anyone is conference in the top 100 RPI. Big Sky and OVC are close to Mid Major.


So there you have it. All neatly packed and clearly defined. No need to get offended when you're team is mislabeled, because everyone has a clearly defined place.

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