Mid-Major Lives Matter (Feb 13-16)

After a week that saw a lot of top teams in mid-major conference go down at least once, including New Mexico State, Belmont, UNC Wilmington, and East Tennessee State, our mid-major top 25 saw quite a bit of shakeup. Here is the top 25 for the week of February 13:

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

Below is a preview of the top mid-major games each day this week. Check back daily for that day’s preview!

Monday

Georgia State at Coastal Carolina
Georgia Southern at App State
Arkansas State at Texas State
UALR at UT Arlington

Why You Should Care: As we start to enter the homestretch in the Sun Belt conference, there is still a handful of teams in the hunt for the league title. Georgia State, Georgia Southern and Arkansas State are all tied at 9-3, UT Arlington is half a game back at 8-3 and Texas State is hanging around at 7-4. Maybe we’ll have a little more clarity after tonight’s slate of games.

Monmouth at Siena
Why You Should Care: With 5 games to play in the MAAC, Monmouth is very close to clinching the league title. The Hawks are 13-2 and have a full three games up on second place Iona. Siena will be no pushover tonight though, as they’re coming off back to back road wins, including at Iona.

Furman at VMI
Why You Should Care: Don’t get us wrong, we thought Furman would be one of the better teams in the SoCon this year. We had them 3rd in our preseason predictions. But we absolutely did not see a 11-2 start on the horizon for the Paladins. They’ve won 8 in a row and have a one game lead on ETSU for first place with 5 games to play. VMI is just 3-9 in conference play, so Furman needs to take care of business tonight.

Colgate at Bucknell
Why You Should Care: With 5 games remaining for Bucknell in Patriot League play, the Bison are 11-2 in the conference. That’s good enough for a 1.5 game lead over Boston and Navy, who are two of Bucknell’s final 3 opponents. A win tonight would give them a comfortable two game lead for the league title and home court advantage in the conference tournament.

Tuesday

High Point at Liberty
Why You Should Care: With just four games remaining in the Big South regular season, Liberty sits in a tie for first at 12-2 with UNC Asheville. The Flames have a very tough final stretch that includes this home game against High Point (4th in the league), at Winthrop (3rd, 1 game back of the league leaders) and at UNC Asheville. Those two tough road games make this home game a must win for the Flames. The first meeting between these two was a 62-58 Liberty win.

Buffalo at Central Michigan
Why You Should Care: The nation’s leading scorer, Marcus Keene, is currently averaging an astounding 29.9 PPG. If you haven’t watched him play yet, you need to make time to.

Toledo at Akron
Why You Should Care: The Zips have all but clinched the MAC title, as they enter the final six games of the regular season with a full four games separating them and the second place teams (7-5 Ohio and Buffalo). Toledo currently sits a game back of second place at 6-6, so they could use a huge upset win to stay alive in that race.

Iona at Canisius
Why You Should Care: With Monmouth’s win on Monday night, Iona now sits 3.5 games back of first place. Including this one, the Gaels have 5 games to play. A loss would clinch at least a share of the regular season title for Monmouth. Staying on the opposite side of the bracket of Monmouth will be key come conference tournament time, so even if a regular season title is unlikely, the Gaels have a lot to play for still.

Wednesday

Winthrop at Longwood
Presbyterian at UNC Asheville

Why You Should Care: Liberty defeated High Point on Tuesday to move to 13-2 in the Big South. That means Winthrop and UNC Asheville, who are both 12-2, need a win in Wednesday to keep pace with the Flames. Longwood and Presbyterian are the bottom two teams in the conference, but at this stage in the season with a title on the line, you can’t take any game lightly.

Furman at Western Carolina
Samford at ETSU
Chattanooga at VMI
Wofford at UNCG

Why You Should Care: With four games remaining for Furman and 5 for ETSU, Chattanooga, UNCG, time is running out on the SoCon title race. Furman sits at 12-2 right now, holding a 1.5 game lead over 10-3 ETSU. Chattanooga and UNCG are hanging on by a thread, 2.5 games back at 9-4. A Furman win tomorrow would go a long ways in securing the league title, while a loss for any of the three teams in pursuit would all but end their hopes of a title.

North Dakota State at Fort Wayne
Why You Should Care: Entering this one, NDSU is 9-3 in the Summit, good enough for a half game lead over South Dakota. The Bison can make that a full game with a win, but a loss would even the two up with three more games to play following Wednesday. The first meeting between these two was a close 89-83 Bison victory, so expect this one to be a back and forth affair.

Wichita State at Southern Illinois
Illinois State at Missouri State

Why You Should Care: The Shockers and Redbirds continue to both take care of business, as both sit at 13-1 in the MVC. Not only are the battling for a league title, but both need to keep winning to secure an at-large bid, especially Illinois State. It won’t be easy on Wednesday, as winning on the road in The Valley is never an easy task. Southern Illinois is in fourth in the league, while Missouri State is tied for fifth. Missouri State took ISU to OT back on January 4th.

Vermont at UMass Lowell
Stony Brook at Hartford

Why You Should Care: Vermont continues to roll in the America East, as they’re just three wins a way from a perfect 16-0 record in conference play. They currently hold a 2.5 game lead over Stony Brook. A Vermont win or Stony Brook loss would clinch at least a share of the America East title for the Catamounts, while both would give them the title outright. No team has ever went 16-0 in the America East, so Vermont is chasing history in that aspect as well.

UMBC at Albany
Why You Should Care: So after talking about how Vermont basically has the America East locked up, why does this game matter? Well, UMBC and Albany are currently tied for third in the league with four games left for each. Whoever gets the 3 seed would be on the opposite side of the bracket from Vermont, while the fourth place team would have to beat the Catamounts just to get to the league title. Getting that 3 seed is very critical.

Boston at Colgate
Navy at Lehigh
Bucknell at Loyola (MD)

Why You Should Care: A full two games separates Bucknell (12-2) from Boston and Navy (10-4). With just four games to play in the Patriot League regular season, the Bison are close to clinching the league title and home court advantage in the conference tournament. A win on Wednesday could possibly give them a chance to clinch this weekend. Navy and Boston both need to win to keep any title hopes alive.

South Carolina State at Norfolk State
Why You Should Care: Norfolk State is 9-2 in the MEAC, one game behind leader NC Central. The first meeting between these two was a close 65-62 battle, so expect another good ballgame.

Thursday

FGCU at NJIT
North Florida at Lipscomb

Why You Should Care: With just one week to play in the Atlantic Sun regular season (3 games left), FGCU and Lipscomb sit in a tie for first place. Not only is the regular season title meaningful to these teams and their school, but in a conference like the A-Sun where tournaments games are played on campus at the higher seed, finishing in first place means that much more. If the two teams do end in a tie, Lipscomb currently is ahead in the tiebreaker procedure. FGCU does have the easier matchup tonight, as they play last place NJIT while Lipscomb gets a North Florida team that is tied for fourth.

Mount Saint Mary’s at Wagner
Why You Should Care: Currently holding a 2.5 game lead of the NEC, Mount Saint Mary’s would clinch at least a share of the NEC title with a win tonight. The first meeting between these schools was a 57-56 win for Mount Saint Mary’s, so expect this to be a tight one.

Charleston at Hofstra
UNC Wilmington at Northeastern
Elon at Towson

Why You Should Care: Charleston has dropped two in a row which has pushed them back to a game behind UNC Wilmington with four games left. Towson is barely hanging around in the Colonial title race, as they’re two games behind the Seahawks. Northeastern beat Charleston on the road a week ago, so tonight will be no easy task for UNCW.

Monmouth at Niagara
Why You Should Care: Monmouth can become the first team to clinch their conference outright tonight with a win. The Hawks own a 3.5 game lead over Saint Peter’s. Monmouth won the first meeting between the two teams at Niagara, 90-83.

Eastern Kentucky at Belmont
Morehead State at Tennessee State

Why You Should Care: Belmont dropped their first OVC game of the year on Saturday, but the Bruins still hold a 2.5 game lead of first place. With a win tonight, they would clinch at least a share of the conference title, while a win and a Morehead State loss would give them the OVC outright.

San Francisco at Gonzaga
Why You Should Care: The Zags are 26-0, just four wins away from a perfect regular season. We think that’s good.

Mid Tennessee at Western Kentucky
Why You Should Care: While the odds aren’t super high, Mid Tennessee is one of the few mid-majors that has a chance at an at-large bid still. To give themselves a chance for that on Selection Sunday if they don’t win the C-USA Tournament, they can’t lose any games like this one.

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