Mid-Major Lives Matter (Jan 30-Feb 2)

We’re back for our second week of our new bi-weekly special, Mid-Major Lives Matter. Each Monday and Friday, we’ll highlight the top mid-major games for the upcoming days. In addition to that, we are also doing our first mid-major top 25 this week! Conferences not considered mid-majors are the power 6 conferences, the Atlantic 10, the American and the Mountain West (although they’ve performed like a mid-major the last couple of years). Below you will find our first set of mid-major rankings and a preview of the top mid-major games for Monday through Thursday.

Mid-Major Top 25

1. Gonzaga
2. Saint Mary’s
3. Illinois State
4. Wichita State
5. Middle Tennessee
6. UNC Wilmington
7. New Mexico State
8. ETSU
9. Akron
10. Belmont
11. Valparaiso
12. Monmouth
13. UT Arlington
14. Chattanooga
15. Vermont
16. Princeton
17. Georgia Southern
18. Arkansas State
19. Louisiana Tech
20. Charleston
21. Florida Gulf Coast
22. North Dakota State
23. Fort Wayne
24. Bucknell
25. Furman

Monday

North Florida at FGCU
Lipscomb at USC Upstate
Why You Should Care: We’re at the half point of the Atlantic Sun season and these four teams make up the top four in the league. FGCU is in first at 6-1, USC Upstate and Lipscomb sit tied at second with a 5-2 record, while North Florida is fourth at 4-3. FGCU beat UNF by 4 in the first meeting, while USC Upstate defeated Lipscomb by 7.

Boston at Lehigh
Why You Should Care: The two teams currently sit at 6-3 in Patriot League play, which is good enough for third place. The winner would move into a tie for second with Navy. Boston won the first meeting, 75-61.

Savannah St at Maryland Eastern Shore
Why You Should Care: Both squads currently have two losses in MEAC play, as Savannah State is 6-2 and a half game back of first, while Maryland Eastern Shore is 4-2 and a game and half back. Both teams are in the thick of the league race, but this one feels like a must win if they want to keep pace with Morgan State and NC Central.

Arkansas State at UL Lafayette
Why You Should Care: One of the pleasant surprises in mid-major basketball has been Arkansas State, who is 15-6 and 6-2 in the Sun Belt. That puts them one game back of Georgia Southern. UL Lafayette is 4-4 in Sun Belt play, but will be a tough road matchup for the Red Wolves. These are the games you need to win if you want to win a conference title.

Tuesday

Toledo at Ball State
Akron at Northern Illinois
Why You Should Care: The two biggest games in the MAC on Tuesday, Ball State and Northern Illinois are 5-3 and in a tie for first in the MAC West with Eastern Michigan. Toledo sits a game back at 4-4. Meanwhile, Akron has yet to lose a conference game as they have a comfortable 3 game lead in the MAC East at 8-0. These are two home games Ball State and Northern Illinois need to stay on pace to win the West.

Loyola-Chicago at Missouri State
Why You Should Care: Illinois State and Wichita State are running away with the Missouri Valley, so the rest of the teams are playing for third right now. Loyola currently holds that 3rd place spot as they are 6-4, while Missouri State is one of four teams a game behind them at 5-5. Missouri State has been scuffling as of late, so they could really use a big home win.

Wednesday

New Hampshire at Stony Brook
Why You Should Care: We’re at the mid-way point of America East play and both of these teams have established themselves as two of the top teams in the league. Stony Brook is in second place, two games behind Vermont, while New Hampshire is a game behind the Seawolves and in third place. While it may be tough for either team to catch Vermont, in a league where tournament games are played at the higher seed’s campus getting the #2 seed is huge. Stony Brook won the first meeting, 59-56.

SE Missouri State at Jacksonville State
Why You Should Care: Southeast Missouri State is 6-3 in OVC play, which puts them in a three-way tie for second in the league. Jacksonville State sits a game behind the Redbirds at 5-4 in league play. SE Missouri State has won 4 straight, including a road win at Murray State.

UNI at Illinois State
Why You Should Care: Illinois State is out to a phenomenal 10-0 start in Missouri Valley play, but this could be a potential trap game. The Redbirds may be looking ahead to their big matchup with Wichita State on Saturday, but they can’t overlook UNI. Although it has been a frustrating season for one of the best mid-major programs in the country, the Panthers have won 5 straight since stating MVC play 0-5.

Thursday

Navy at Boston
Why You Should Care: In their first meeting, Boston blew at Navy, 71-53, but the two teams currently sit in a tie for second in the Patriot League at 7-3. Navy has won 7 in a row since that loss to Boston and looks like a very different team. Tonight will be an interesting test for the Midshipmen.

Charleston at UNC Wilmington
Why You Should Care: A battle of the top two teams in the Colonial as UNCW is in first place at 9-1, while Charleston is right on their tail at 8-2. UNCW won the first meeting 65-59, so Charleston needs this one if they want to win the regular season title. The Seahawks are coming off an eighteen point loss to William & Mary.

Northeastern at William & Mary
Why You Should Care: These two squads sit in a tie for third in the Colonial, along with Elon, at 6-4. While the conference title may be unrealistic at this point, the battle for the third spot in the conference is huge so you can avoid playing the #1 seed until the finals. Northeastern won the first netting 84-64.

UNCG at Chattanooga
Why You Should Care: Both teams have lost two straight but are very much in the conference title race. UNCG is a half game behind league leaders ETSU and Furman, while Chattanooga is a full game back. UNCG won the first meeting between the two teams, 73-68.

Belmont at Murray State
Why You Should Care: Belmont has won 12 in a row, including a 10-0 start in OVC play. Just two of their 10 conference games have been decided by single digits. This may be their toughest conference game of the season as Murray State is in a tie for second in the league at 6-3. It’s never easy to win at Murray State, either.

Stephen F Austin at Sam Houston State
Why You Should Care: If you want to be the champ, you have to beat the champ. Sam Houston State currently leads the Southland at 7-2 with New Orleans a half game back. Their conference title aspirations will take a big step forward if they can take down the 4 time defending champs, Stephen F Austin. The Lumberjacks are a game back of the league leaders at 6-3.

Gonzaga at BYU
Why You Should Care: Gonzaga puts their 22-0 record on the line as they go on the road to face BYU, who is third in the WCC. The Zags haven’t had a game decided by single digits since they played Arizona almost two months ago. BYU has a chance to end that streak tonight.

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