There is an exciting college basketball season right around the corner and the power five conferences aren’t the only exciting leagues in the country. There are many exciting teams coming out of the mid-major conferences that include the Mid-American Conference and West Coast Conference.
The most storied of the mid-major programs is Gonzaga. In the past two seasons, it has lost in the national championship game followed by a Sweet 16 loss. This season the Zags could possibly reach their ultimate goal of winning a championship. They begin the season ranked third in the nation due to their expected power offense.
They are led by returning senior guard Josh Perkins, who recorded 12.3 points per game last season. Opposite Perkins in the frontcourt is Zach Norvell Jr., a sophomore who had a great tournament, averaging 19 points per game during March Madness. Expect Gonzaga to be a dangerous team this year.
Another notable team to come out of one of the mid-major conferences is Buffalo. The Bulls burst onto the scene last year when they defeated the Arizona Wildcats led by the number one overall pick in the draft, Deandre Ayton.
The Bulls won 27 games a season ago en route to the MAC conference title. They have three returning seniors who led the team in scoring last year. Buffalo has the talent to win the MAC once again and possibly make a run in the tournament.
Coming out of the Missouri Valley conference is the 2018 tournament Cinderella story, Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers shocked the whole country last year making it to the Final Four, but in the end, they lost to Michigan. They were consistently good last year even without regards to their run in the tournament. They finished last season 32-6 and won the Missouri Valley Conference championship.
This year they are without two seniors Donte Ingram and Aundre Jackson. They were leaders of the team, but Loyola-Chicago does return Missouri Conference Player of the Year, Clayton Cluster. The depth of their roster could be questionable, and they are going to have overcome their problems if they want to repeat their conference title.
South Dakota State is another team to keep an eye on this season. Mike Daum returns after averaging 23.9 points per game and 10.9 rebounds per game last year. He’ll be returning in hopes of defending the team's Summit League title. Daum will receive some help from now sophomore guard Davis Jenkins. Jenkins averaged 16.1 points per game last year and intends to improve for the upcoming season.
If they repeat their conference title the Jackrabbits will be looking to make it farther in the tournament than last year where they lost in the round of 64 to Ohio State.
This season will not all be about the power five conference teams. Watch out for other teams that don’t get much attention, such as Marshall and Wofford. A team from a mid-major conference always seems to find its way past the first round of the tournament. The mid-major regular season will be interesting to follow as well.
Joseph Muscente is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.