Mid-Major Lives Matter (Feb 20-23)

Believe it or not, the first conference tournament (Atlantic Sun) will tip-off just one week from today. That is just one of 13 conference tournaments that will begin next week. In other words, we are incredibly close the end of the regular season. Over the weekend, Bucknell became the third team to clinch their respective conference, as the Bison beat Boston to win the Patriot League.

Below is our updated mid-major top 25. There isn’t much change at the top, while the only new face is Winthrop entering at #25.

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

Below is a daily preview of the most important mid-major games.

Monday

NC Central at Howard
Norfolk State at Bethune-Cookman

Why You Should Care: It’s looking like it is going to be NC Central and Norfolk State fighting for the MEAC title down the stretch. NC Central has a half game lead on Norfolk State. 3 of the NC Central’s final four games are against the bottom 3 teams in the league, so the advantage goes to them. In the case of a tie between the two teams, NC Central won the only head to head meeting between the two.


Texas State at Georgia State
UT Arlington at Georgia Southern

Why You Should Care: Saturday was a crazy day in the Sun Belt, with UL Lafayette hitting a half court buzzer beater to beat UL Monroe and, as we said earlier, UT Arlington also winning a miracle shot at the end of their game with Georgia State. That shot kept UTA atop the Sun Belt standings at 10-3, with Arkansas State and Georgia Souther a half game back at 10-4. Georgia State is also hanging around at 9-5, 1.5 games back. Tonight is probably UTA’s toughest game the rest of the way, so Georgia Southern and the other contenders really need the Eagles to come through.

Alabama A&M at Alcorn State
MVSU at Texas Southern

Why You Should Care: Texas Southern and Alcorn State were both victorious over the weekend to stay atop the SWAC standings. Texas Southern is 11-2, while Alcorn State is 11-3. MVSU shocked Texas Southern in their first meeting, but has just 4 wins on the season, while Alabama A&M is only 1-23 on the year.

Tuesday

Youngstown State at Oakland
Milwaukee at Valparaiso

Why You Should Care: With just three games to play in the Horizon League regular season, Valpo currently owns one game lead over Oakland for first place. That means a win tonight and an Oakland loss would clinch at least a share of the conference title for the Crusaders. Oakland handled Youngstown State in their first meeting, 90-76, while Valpo hammered Milwaukee, 71-53.

Kent State at Buffalo
Ohio at Miami (OH)
Akron at Bowling Green

Why You Should Care: Akron owns a three game lead of first place in the MAC, with Ohio and Buffalo sitting tied for second. A win tonight for the Zips would clinch a share of the MAC regular season title, while a win and losses by both Ohio and Buffalo would clinch the league outright.

Evansville at Wichita State
Why You Should Care: Two games to play in the MVC regular season and Wichita State and Illinois State still sit in a tie for first at 15-1. The Shockers have the easier final week compared to the Redbirds, as they host 5-11 Evansville and go to 7-9 Missouri State. ISU, on the other hand, hosts 8-8 Southern Illinois and travels to 9-7 UNI. Note that if the two teams end in a tie for first, Illinois State would get the top seed right now as they have a better RPI than the Shockers.

Wednesday

Furman at ETSU
UNCG at Mercer

Why You Should Care: A huge night in the SoCon is headlined by league leader Furman, who is 13-3, taking on ETSU, who is a half game back at 12-3. A Furman win would clinch the #1 seed in the SoCon Tournament, while an ETSU win would vault them into the top spot for now. Furman won the first meeting, 75-62. UNCG also still has a shot at the conference title, as they’re 1.5 games behind Furman. They would need a win and a Furman loss to keep their title hopes alive.

Southern Illinois at Illinois State
Why You Should Care: Wichita State pounded Evansville last night to move to 16-1 in the Missouri Valley. Illinois State, who is 15-1, needs this one to keep that tie for first. The Redbirds had two close calls last week, but MiKyle McIntosh is getting healthier and better which should help immensely. ISU won at Southern Illinois by 7 in their first meeting.

Albany at Vermont
Stony Brook at UMBC

Why You Should Care: Vermont can clinch the America East title outright tonight with a win or a Stony Brook loss, who is two games behind the Catamounts. Vermont is 14-0 and no team has ever gone 16-0 in America East play. The Catamounts are chasing history.

Colgate at Lehigh
Boston at Army
American at Navy

Why You Should Care: Bucknell has already locked up the #1 seed and home court advantage in the Patriot League tournament, but the race for the second seed is still on. The #2 seed would still get home court advantage in the quarterfinals and semis, which is huge. Boston is alone in second with two games to play at 11-5, while both Lehigh and Navy are 10-6.

North Dakota State at Oral Roberts
Why You Should Care: NDSU is tied with South Dakota atop the Summit League standings with two games to play. Both teams are on the road for the final two games in what has been a chaotic conference this season. So even though NDSU beat Oral Roberts by 10 last time, nothing is for sure.

UC Irvine at Cal State Fullerton
Why You Should Care: With four games to play in the Big West regular season, UC Irvine holds a one game lead of first place. The Anteaters crushed Fullerton by 20 in their first meeting, although the Titans have won three straight, including wins over third place Long Beach State and second place UC Davis.

Thursday

Charleston Southern at Winthrop
Longwood at Liberty
UNC Asheville at Gardner-Webb

Why You Should Care: Just two games remain for each team in the Big South regular season (tonight and Saturday). UNC Asheville is currently in first at 14-2, while Winthrop and Liberty are right behind them at 13-3. UNCA would clinch a share of the conference title with a win or losses by both Liberty and Winthrop tonight. A win and losses by both teams would give them the league outright. Liberty control its own destiny to get at least a share of the title as well, as they play UNCA on Saturday.

Stetson at FGCU
Lipscomb at Kennesaw State

Why You Should Care: The first conference to wrap up regular season play is the Atlantic Sun tonight. The league title has come down to the final day, with FGCU owning a one game lead over Lipscomb. A win or Lipscomb loss would give them the title outright and the #1 seed in the conference tournament. For Lipscomb to get a share of the league title, they need a win and FGCU loss. To get the #1 seed, Lipscomb also needs USC Upstate and Jacksonville to win tonight.

LIU Brooklyn at Mount Saint Mary’s
Why You Should Care: Mount Saint Mary’s has two game lead over LIU Brooklyn for first place in the NEC with two games to play. A win tonight would give them the league title outright. A LIU win would send this league title race to the final day of the regular season.

Towson at UNC Wilmington
Delaware at Charleston

Why You Should Care: Another conference with just two more games for each team to play in the regular season is the Colonial. UNCW is 13-3, Charleston comes in at 12-4 and Towson is sitting at 11-5. A UNCW win would clinch a share of the league title, while that in a addition to a Charleston loss would give them it outright. The Seahawks beat Towson back on New Year’s Eve by 9, while Charleston also beat Delaware by 9 in their first meeting.

South Dakota at Western Illinois
Why You Should Care: North Dakota State won on Wednesday, moving the Bison to 11-4 in Summit League play. South Dakota is 10-4, so they need this one to go into the final game of the regular season tied with NDSU. The Coyotes beat Western Illinois by 7 back in January.

Stephen F Austin at New Orleans
Why You Should Care: New Orleans enters Thursday with an 11-3 record in the Southland, good enough for a one game lead over Stephen F Austin. Stephen F Austin won the first meeting by 10, so a win for the Lumberjacks would put the two teams in a tie for now with SFA holding the tiebreaker. A New Orleans win, though, would give the Privateers a 2 game lead with 3 games to play.

Utah Valley at New Mexico State
UMKC at Cal State Bakersfield

Why You Should Care: The WAC title race between Bakersfield and New Mexico State is entering the final stretch, with Bakersfield holding a one game lead with three games to play. New Mexico State beat Utah Valley by 5 in their first meeting, while Bakersfield won at UMKC by 11 back in late January.

Weber State at Eastern Washington
Why You Should Care: Weber State is a half game being league leader North Dakota, while Eastern Washington is a game and a half back. Weber State would have to win the league outright to get the #1 seed in the Big Sky tournament, as North Dakota holds the tiebreaker by winning both head to head matchups.

Gonzaga at San Diego
Why You Should Care: Gonzaga can not only clinch the WCC outright with a win, but they’d also move to 29-0, one win from a perfect regular season. Decent.

CSU Northridge at UC Davis
Why You Should Care: After UC Irvine’s loss to Cal State Fullerton, UC Davis can get back into a tie for first in the Big West with a win tonight. That won’t be easy, though, as Northridge played Davis to a 3 point game in their first meeting.

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