This year, five conferences produced multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament: the MWC, A-10, West Coast, MVC, and Sun Belt. These conferences are guaranteed one spot each in the Mid-Major Conference.
Three teams reached the Sweet 16, all from different conferences. Florida Gulf Coast did not come from a multi-bid conference, but the other two did. Although Saint Mary’s won their “First Four” game, Gonzaga was the only team to win a game in a full-size round. Colorado State and San Diego State each won their first game and lost their second, and no team from the Sun Belt won a game in the NCAA tournament. Colorado State and San Diego State split their regular season games and each lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament; Middle Tennessee lost in the conference semifinals and had to play in the “First Four”, but swept Western Kentucky in the regular season.
This leaves three spots in the MMC to be determined by my discretion, with one of them coming from the Mountain West.
Without further ado, the eight members of the 2012 Mid-Major Conference:
La Salle (Atlantic 10)
Wichita State (Missouri Valley Conference)
Gonzaga (West Coast Conference)
Middle Tenn. St. (Sun Belt)
Colorado State (Mountain West Conference)
Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun)
Memphis (Conference USA)
Belmont (Ohio Valley Conference)
With Memphis and Belmont being at-large contenders (the decision might have been much harder had Middle Tennessee not made the field as a sort-of questionable at-large), the only real decision I had to make actually involved the first-ever conference-restricted discretionary selection since I started doing this. San Diego State might have been more deserving, but I had to reward Colorado State’s best season in decades, if not ever. Florida Gulf Coast robbed SDSU of their MMC spot on top of getting one of their own; of course, if I had counted the SEC as a mid-major instead of the Mountain West, I wouldn’t have had to make any decision, because Florida would have gotten the automatic spot. Moreover, depending on what the new Big East and “American” conferences look like, this might well be the last year I ever do this, so let’s give a warm round of applause for what may be the last MMC ever.