The 2011 Mid-Major Conference

Refer to this post if you don’t know what this is about or to catch up on the rules.

This year, four conferences produced multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament: the MWC, A-10, CAA, and C-USA. These conferences are guaranteed one spot each in the Mid-Major Conference.

Five┬áteams reached the Sweet 16, and for the first time since I started doing the MMC, two of them came from the same conference, the Mountain West (both lost in the Sweet 16). Of the other three, Butler did not come from a multi-bid conference, while VCU and Richmond did. Neither team from Conference USA won their first game, but Memphis did not have to play in the “First Four”, won the conference tournament, and swept UAB in the regular season. According to the link at the top of this post, BYU’s 2-1 record against San Diego State trumps SDSU’s win over the Cougars in the finals of the conference tournament.

This leaves three spots in the MMC to be determined by my discretion, with no conference restrictions.

Without further ado, the eight members of the 2010 Mid-Major Conference:

Butler (Horizon League)
VCU (Colonial Athletic Association)
Richmond (Atlantic 10)
BYU (Mountain West Conference)
Memphis (Conference USA)
Gonzaga (West Coast Conference)
Princeton (Ivy League)
Wichita State (Missouri Valley Conference)

A lack of mid-major success in the NCAAs (very few multi-bid conferences, very few single-bid conference teams winning tourney games – basically Gonzaga and Morehead State, which falls under the Northwestern State rule) means I not only picked a team in the NIT final four, I almost picked another NIT team in College of Charleston, ahead of Princeton. Then I remembered how good Princeton and Harvard were. Wichita State was maybe a fringe contender at best for an at-large, but Indiana State and Missouri State didn’t make good cases for themselves with the way they crapped out of their respective tournaments.

My experience with Bracket Ladder got me thinking about criticisms that could be made against my rules. VCU simultaneously is an argument against my Sweet 16 auto bid rule – so you’re mediocre(ly good) all season and catch fire at the right time? – and an example of why I have it: no one remembers that VCU only barely got into the tournament now that they’re in the Final Four! A more problematic case is giving Memphis an auto bid solely because UAB got a bid they might not have been deserving of, but the multi-bid-conference rule is more at the core of the MMC; it’s intended to reflect the best conferences. Had they not received an auto bid to the MMC, Memphis might have received a discretionary pick anyway.

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