What mid-major conference is performing the best? Which mid-major conferences should be on your radar for the NCAA tournament? Here are the best of the best.
What mid-major conference is performing the best? Which mid-major conferences should be on your radar for the NCAA tournament? Here are the best of the best.

The Mid-major conferences may not get the attention they deserve, but they are of the utmost importance to college basketball. Without the mid-majors, the excitement of an unexpecting Cinderella story in March is gone. Without the mid-majors, we lose Jon Rothstein’s famous “epitome of brutality” tweet year after year. Without mid-majors, college basketball just isn’t the same.

Before we can get to business ranking the mid-major conferences, we must define what a mid-major conference is. At CBB Review, Matt Waldman and myself took the time to define what we believe a mid-major is. A Mid-Major is an evolving term. One year a conference or a team may be considered to be a mid-major and the next season they could have established themselves enough to be considered a perennial national title contender, cough, cough…. Gonzaga.

With this in mind, we dove deep into the past to research teams and came up with the thought that a conference is a mid-major as conference if it sends ≤ 20% of their teams to the NCAA tournament in the past five seasons. We know finances play a major role, but we believe that this is a solid starting point. So for the sake of these rankings, using our definition, the AAC, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC were not rated.

Now, with the mid-major conferences decided, what’s next? I took the time to use this season’s metrics as a starting point. I compiled KenPom, NET, BPI, and Torvik ratings. I averaged them together and focused on conferences that were deeper, conferences that had better teams at the top, and lastly using the eye-test to divide the mid-major conferences into five tiers.

The first tier, are the conferences that have the potential to earn multiple bids to this year’s NCAA tournament. The second tier has multiple teams in each conference who could win a game in March. And the last three tiers, of course, could surprise us in March, but most likely have only one team who could make their own Cinderella story.

Tier One

Despite Gonzaga being in tier one of the mid-majors, the Atlantic 10 took the top spot due to a large part because of the depth of the league at the top. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the top seven teams in the conference were able to win the A-10 tournament. The WCC, MW, and MVC all have two teams for sure with some playing with a third quality team.

Atlantic 10
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Saint Louis 30 14 24 21 22.3
Richmond 50 52 40 47 47.3
VCU 61 47 73 45 56.5
St. Bonaventure 58 59 61 62 60.0
Davidson 65 72 43 64 61.0
Rhode Island 63 67 64 70 66.0
Dayton 75 107 84 81 86.8
Massachusetts 104 108 109 82 100.8
Duquesne 117 204 93 123 134.3
George Mason 145 175 175 132 156.8
La Salle 179 210 210 187 196.5
George Washington 206 266 189 203 216.0
Saint Joseph’s 186 239 268 172 216.3
Fordham 257 331 299 245 283.0
Average 139.7 177.9 153.4 135.9 151.7
West Coast Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Gonzaga 1 2 3 2 2.0
BYU 52 3 42 53 37.5
Saint Mary’s 83 76 101 74 83.5
San Francisco 82 88 93 88 87.8
Pacific 116 77 157 93 110.8
LMU 124 110 106 105 111.3
Sant Clara 131 120 133 141 131.3
Pepperdine 143 183 130 128 146.0
San Diego 188 288 199 179 213.5
Portland 296 290 329 283 299.5
Average 121.6 123.7 129.3 114.6 122.3
Mountain West Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
San Diego St. 43 43 37 33 39.0
Boise St. 56 15 38 54 40.8
Utah St. 48 46 57 39 47.5
Colorado St. 78 56 81 89 76.0
Nevada 108 125 138 111 120.5
UNLV 127 154 103 125 127.3
Fresno St. 126 225 218 198 191.8
Wyoming 197 199 295 191 220.5
New Mexico 272 293 282 279 281.5
Air Force 294 263 333 294 296.0
San Jose St. 326 339 341 316 330.5
Average 163.2 171.5 188.6 169.6 173.2
Missouri Valley Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Loyola Chicago 36 41 28 41 36.5
Drake 57 11 49 49 41.5
Bradley 101 113 75 86 93.8
Missouri St. 121 74 135 91 105.3
Indiana St. 150 128 187 127 148.0
Northern Iowa 152 212 140 153 164.3
Southern Illinois 192 179 245 175 197.8
Valparaiso 193 267 256 200 229.0
Illinois St. 261 269 272 246 262.0
Evansville 275 265 293 257 272.5
Average 153.8 155.9 168.0 142.5 155.1

Tier Two

Tier two contains some quality teams and conferences. These three mid-major conferences will be on the radar of every major program come March.

Conference USA
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
UAB 93 64 78 67 75.5
Marshall 86 87 73 94 85.0
Western Kentucky 88 89 80 102 89.8
North Texas 92 102 85 94 93.3
Louisiana Tech 106 124 105 112 111.8
Charlotte 163 143 174 147 156.8
Florida Atlantic 182 106 165 184 159.3
Old Dominion 151 153 172 166 160.5
UTEP 170 170 168 189 174.3
Rice 196 174 219 178 191.8
FIU 205 244 215 215 219.8
Southern Miss 251 242 231 213 234.3
UTSA 202 279 274 212 241.8
Middle Tennessee 254 306 243 262 266.3
Average 188.0 194.1 196.6 187.8 191.6
Mid-American Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Toledo 72 63 76 66 69.3
Buffalo 113 104 116 110 110.8
Kent St. 120 79 120 126 111.3
Bowling Green 115 93 125 124 114.3
Ohio 130 137 136 118 130.3
Ball St. 135 145 148 145 143.3
Akron 132 159 144 163 149.5
Miami OH 204 251 265 182 225.5
Eastern Michigan 223 312 260 196 247.8
Central Michigan 241 277 248 256 255.5
Western Michigan 236 303 269 223 257.8
Northern Illinois 319 330 327 315 322.8
Average 185.5 208.6 204.2 184.8 195.8
Southern Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Furman 79 50 82 85 74.0
Wofford 125 80 102 138 111.3
UNC Greensboro 122 122 95 151 122.5
Mercer 160 105 146 161 143.0
East Tennessee St. 158 152 177 150 159.3
Chattanooga 181 151 170 181 170.8
Western Carolina 195 186 159 190 182.5
VMI 238 196 255 199 222.0
Samford 265 214 232 214 231.3
The Citadel 298 193 209 244 236.0
Average 182.1 144.9 162.7 171.3 165.3

Tier Three

Tier three conferences may not provide the fireworks in March, although it is certainly possible. These mid-major conferences will provide excitement throughout the regular season, ultimately cannibalizing one another.

Big West
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
UC Santa Barbara 114 95 112 129 112.5
UC Riverside 134 91 121 113 114.8
UC Irvine 123 141 115 122 125.3
Cal St. Bakersfield 140 129 123 136 132.0
Hawaii 220 162 201 192 193.8
UC Davis 183 182 178 233 194.0
Long Beach St. 264 275 264 225 257.0
Cal St. Fullerton 305 250 216 289 265.0
Cal St. Northridge 287 247 263 292 272.3
UC San Diego 235 314 337 251 284.3
Cal Poly 342 334 328 324 332.0
Average 223.3 212.5 214.6 217.7 217.0
Sun Belt
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Georgia St. 111 62 77 106 89.0
Coastal Carolina 154 103 134 146 134.3
Texas St. 147 135 207 155 161.0
Little Rock 161 163 184 180 172.0
Louisiana 166 177 262 162 191.8
Appalachian St. 200 217 162 216 198.8
UT Arlington 184 226 202 202 203.5
South Alabama 214 207 208 221 212.5
Georgia Southern 270 274 251 265 265.0
Troy 291 285 281 302 289.8
Arkansas St. 291 313 298 309 302.8
Louisiana Monroe 307 320 323 306 314.0
Average 223.1 231.7 237.8 231.8 231.1
Colonial Athletic Association
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Northeastern 149 131 180 140 150.0
Drexel 162 176 150 158 161.5
Hofstra 174 174 156 156 165.0
UNC Wilmington 185 155 163 173 169.0
James Madison 229 168 154 197 187.0
Charleston 217 234 186 239 219.0
Towson 233 260 212 227 233.0
Elon 225 235 226 247 233.3
Delaware 248 262 277 249 259.0
William & Mary 286 268 304 290 287.0
Average 210.8 206.3 200.8 207.6 206.4

Tier Four

Summit League
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
South Dakota St. 96 94 97 117 101.0
Oral Roberts 165 164 169 165 165.8
North Dakota St. 156 167 197 160 170.0
South Dakota 173 172 221 164 182.5
UMKC 252 272 152 168 211.0
Nebraska Omaha 268 304 287 285 286.0
North Dakota 304 294 316 303 304.3
Western Illinois 333 321 314 323 322.8
Denver 335 341 340 341 339.3
Average 231.3 236.6 232.6 225.1 231.4
Big Sky
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Eastern Washington 133 138 143 137 137.8
Southern Utah 178 160 151 183 168.0
Montana 169 237 171 169 186.5
Weber St. 224 133 147 253 189.3
Montana St. 191 171 217 206 196.3
Sacramento St. 215 197 198 231 210.3
Northern Colorado 212 259 236 243 237.5
Idaho St. 277 261 232 280 262.5
Portland St. 306 283 290 310 297.3
Northern Arizona 322 328 301 330 320.3
Idaho 348 342 339 340 342.3
Average 244.2 237.1 228.2 254.5 241.0
Horizon League
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Wright St. 85 86 90 69 82.5
Cleveland St. 172 149 220 168 177.3
Milwaukee 222 191 189 194 199.0
Purdue Fort Wayne 199 189 182 255 206.3
Detroit 210 258 205 189 215.5
Illinois Chicago 218 209 237 207 217.8
Robert Morris 239 241 233 263 244.0
Northern Kentucky 236 240 258 261 248.8
IUPUI 278 252 275 259 266.0
Oakland 250 280 303 258 272.8
Youngstown St. 260 292 276 266 273.5
Green Bay 289 300 318 255 290.5
Average 240.1 245.2 247.6 240.7 243.4
Patriot League
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Colgate 107 22 66 116 77.8
Navy 167 106 175 174 155.5
Lafayette 189 115 160 167 157.8
Army 187 109 166 198 165.0
Loyola MD 249 203 227 228 226.8
American 253 194 246 235 232.0
Bucknell 266 220 222 286 248.5
Boston University 283 287 252 287 277.3
Holy Cross 337 219 315 325 299.0
Lehigh 315 278 324 307 306.0
Average 235.3 175.3 215.3 232.3 214.6
Ohio Valley Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Belmont 90 99 109 114 103.0
Eastern Kentucky 168 136 137 148 147.3
Murray St. 139 228 113 159 159.8
Jacksonville St. 219 192 194 177 195.5
Austin Peay 180 243 179 208 202.5
Morehead St. 208 198 228 188 205.5
Eastern Illinois 231 273 206 260 242.5
SIU Edwardsville 320 255 288 311 293.5
Tennessee St. 302 309 294 293 299.5
Southeast Missouri St. 325 299 305 301 307.5
Tennessee Tech 327 316 322 312 319.3
Tennessee Martin 345 335 338 342 340.0
Average 259.6 264.8 246.7 255.1 256.6
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Siena 136 90 119 142 121.8
Monmouth 164 147 153 152 154.0
Saint Peter’s 171 156 200 176 175.8
Iona 216 169 167 204 189.0
Canisius 240 223 203 217 220.8
Niagara 237 246 196 238 229.3
Marist 273 254 234 273 258.5
Quinnipiac 284 271 273 291 279.8
Manhattan 310 298 249 276 283.3
Rider 308 301 284 282 293.8
Fairfield 330 323 302 320 318.8
Average 253.3 238.8 226.1 242.9 240.3
America East
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Vermont 105 112 72 99 97.0
UMBC 177 139 145 171 158.0
Hartford 221 184 195 205 201.3
Albany 245 208 164 209 206.5
New Hampshire 226 216 204 232 219.5
NJIT 232 221 191 234 219.5
UMass Lowell 234 232 214 248 232.0
Stony Brook 262 257 223 252 248.5
Maine 240 297 307 321 291.3
Binghamton 247 332 325 335 309.8
Average 218.9 219.8 204.0 230.6 218.3

Tier Five

Big South
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Winthrop 109 49 96 108 90.5
Gardner Webb 207 190 192 186 193.8
UNC Asheville 211 229 185 201 206.5
Campbell 263 230 224 226 235.8
Radford 242 222 253 237 238.5
High Point 267 241 241 250 249.8
Longwood 301 286 308 277 293.0
Hampton 318 296 297 299 302.5
USC Upstate 316 305 334 327 320.5
Presbyterian 346 324 336 343 337.3
Charleston Southern 341 343 331 338 338.3
Average 281.2 266.6 270.1 268.4 271.6
Southland Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Abilene Christian 119 73 128 98 104.5
Stephen F. Austin 159 215 156 144 168.5
Sam Houston St. 203 146 181 195 181.3
Nicholls St. 201 180 161 219 190.3
Central Arkansas 274 284 242 275 268.8
New Orleans 303 308 279 298 297.0
Texas A&M Corpus Chris 312 325 321 305 315.8
Lamar 323 319 310 326 319.5
McNeese St. 344 344 259 332 319.8
Northwestern St. 324 333 309 314 320.0
Incarnate Word 339 322 330 304 323.8
Southeastern Louisiana 332 310 326 334 325.5
Houston Baptist 343 329 319 333 331.0
Average 309.5 305.4 285.6 304.0 301.1
Atlantic Sun
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Liberty 102 75 89 92 89.5
Lipscomb 213 227 244 218 225.5
Bellarmine 230 224 270 242 241.5
Stetson 227 236 286 224 243.3
North Alabama 258 270 190 264 245.5
Florida Gulf Coast 281 295 250 269 273.8
North Florida 290 282 291 281 286.0
Jacksonville 300 281 280 300 290.3
Kennesaw St. 350 336 335 328 337.3
Average 250.1 247.3 248.3 246.4 248.1
Western Athletic Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Grand Canyon 141 132 91 143 126.8
New Mexico St. 118 256 132 90 149.0
UT Rio Grande Valley 209 205 238 222 218.5
Utah Valley 255 201 292 240 247.0
Seattle 285 253 240 270 262.0
Cal Baptist 297 264 247 271 269.8
Tarleton St. 331 311 317 322 320.3
Dixie St. 328 318 332 331 327.3
Average 245.5 242.5 236.1 236.1 240.1
Northeast Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Bryant 175 97 173 135 145.0
LIU 246 140 210 229 206.3
Mount St. Mary’s 247 173 230 211 215.3
St. Francis PA 269 202 271 274 254.0
St. Francis NY 288 195 257 296 259.0
Wagner 280 218 278 278 263.5
Fairleigh Dickinson 295 307 254 267 280.8
Sacred Heart 314 238 283 313 287.0
Merrimack 321 289 267 294 292.8
Central Connecticut 334 291 312 319 314.0
Average 276.9 215.0 253.5 261.6 251.8
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Norfolk St. 243 188 225 241 224.3
Morgan St. 282 161 229 236 227.0
North Carolina Central 259 157 261 254 232.8
Florida A&M 292 245 311 272 280.0
Howard 313 327 320 239 299.8
North Carolina A&T 317 315 296 317 311.3
Coppin St. 329 302 306 308 311.3
Delaware St. 351 340 342 336 342.3
South Carolina St. 335 345 345 346 342.8
Average 302.3 264.4 292.8 283.2 285.7
Southwestern Athletic Conference
Team KenPom NET BPI Torvik AVG
Southern 256 211 239 220 231.5
Texas Southern 244 249 218 230 235.3
Prairie View A&M 293 233 266 288 270.0
Alabama A&M 336 150 299 318 275.8
Jackson St. 309 317 235 295 289.0
Grambling St. 311 276 289 297 293.3
Alcorn St. 338 326 314 329 326.8
Arkansas Pine Bluff 352 338 344 337 342.8
Alabama St. 353 337 343 345 344.5
Mississippi Valley St. 357 347 347 347 349.5
Average 314.9 278.4 289.4 300.6 295.8

All data was collected Tuesday afternoon.

Feature image photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

By Matt Karner

Big East hoops writer for NCAAM Review Bracketologist for Busted Bracketology (www.bustedbracketology.wordpress.com) Twitter: @karner44 Instagram: @karner44

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