It’s getting to be a little mid-major mania when it comes to March Madness anymore. For the second year in a row, the non-power conference lot has been bestowed 11 of the available 37 at-large berths for the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.
The Mountain West and Atlantic Ten head that list, grabbing four apiece. The bigger deal, really, is seeing the West Coast (Saint Mary’s), Sun Belt (Middle Tennessee State) and Missouri Valley (Wichita State) conferences squeeze an extra place beyond their automatic qualifiers.
Before going crazy about the tables turning, though, keep in mind that cycles happen and, frankly, are pretty common in sports. Just this millennium, in fact, we’ve seen a mid-major rising greater than this current “experience.” In 2003 and ’04, 22 of a total of 68 slots went to the non-power schools, including 12 of 34 that second year – which stands as the height of mid-major acceptance thus far.