College Basketball Mid-Major Report: Breaking Down Colorado State, San Francisco & Belmont
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Will Richard
There are multiple mid-major college basketball programs poised to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Typically, mid-major teams are more likely to be overlooked, due to their weaker schedules, but this year, there are many who would fare relatively well in the major conferences.
In fact, these squads below could potentially even rank high in the Big Tens or Big 12s of the college basketball world.
Below is a preview of the teams who could “upset” their way to a potential Sweet 16 berth.
|Current Overall Record||10-0|
|Current ESPN Bracketology Seed||8-seed|
Colorado State is one of the only remaining undefeated teams left in college basketball. The Rams are 10-0 this season and could very well remain undefeated well into 2022.
The Mountain West Rams play in a shockingly tough conference this season. The MWC has six teams in the KenPom top 100, four of which are in the top 60. CSU could remain at the top of the pack all season.
The Rams have an elite offense. Seriously, they rank 15th overall in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom, and shoot the ball at a 43.8% clip from downtown and 58.0% inside the arc.
They also shoot 81.8% from the line, which as college hoops fans know, is critical down the stretch of postseason basketball games.
They are unfazed and have weapons at every position.
Leading the way is junior David Roddy at 20.4 points per game and a 46.9% 3-point percentage. Isaiah Stevens follows suit at 14.1 points and 7.3 assists per game.
Colorado State’s most detrimental weakness is crashing the glass. This team thrives on 3s falling and production from its guards.
In their closest game, a three-point victory over Mississippi State, the Rams lost the offensive rebounding edge 13-7. They also hit 42.3% of their 3s in the game, propelling them to an eventual win.
They only snag 18.7% of their offensive boards, so this will be a concern against taller teams come tournament time.
They should still be able to grab an at-large bid, even if they lose to San Diego State or another team in the Mountain West Tournament, so keep an eye on the Rams.
They can contend with the big boys.
|Current Overall Record||11-1|
|Current ESPN Bracketology Seed||9-seed|
The San Francisco Dons are a top-three team in the West Coast Conference, likely behind Gonzaga and BYU, but they could very well rank in front of the Saint Mary’s Gaels at the conclusion of the regular season.
Everyone knows Gonzaga and BYU (and even Saint Mary’s), as those teams have all remained atop the WCC for the better part of the last decade.
San Francisco has launched itself into the national college basketball conversation this season. In fact, it could make the WCC a four-bid league for the NCAA Tournament.
The Dons are a great defensive squad. They rank 25th, according to KenPom, in adjusted defensive efficiency and they limit opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 44.5% and a 3-point percentage of 28.1%. They also rebound at a 24.7% clip on defense.
Their well-rounded defense could lead them to a historic Cinderella run.
At the moment, Joe Lunardi has the Dons as a 9-seed in Bracketology, although, they did just drop their first contest of the season at Grand Canyon. They did defeat Arizona State in a close one in their last game on Sunday, though, so they are back on track.
Their Achilles heel is unwarranted turnovers. They turn the ball over at an alarming rate: 21.9%. They need to shore up this issue in order to make a run this postseason.
Jamaree Bouyea is one of the least talked about names in the WCC, which is mostly attributed to the plethora of Wooden Award contenders on Gonzaga.
Bouyee averages 17.6 points with 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. He is a well-balanced player who can match up with most guards, as he is averaging 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks each game.
Yauhen Massalski leads the post, but the Dons’ depth is lacking down low. Massalski needs to log major minutes, so if there are any injuries or absences on the bench, San Fran will have trouble on the glass.
Still, the Dons play their game. They shoot 37.0% from beyond the arc. They can rebound from virtually every position, and their defense holds the opposition in check.
Once they match up with the tops of the WCC, fans will get a better idea of how deep this team can run in the NCAA Tournament — if they can earn that at-large bid.
|Current Overall Record||10-3|
|Current ESPN Bracketology Seed||12-seed|
The Belmont Bruins are going to battle with Murray State for first place in the Ohio Valley. Otherwise, the competition is lacking in the conference.
This does not matter in most cases because Belmont already has victories over Saint Louis, Drake, Iona and Furman. The Bruins are currently 10-3 and KenPom only projects them to drop one game for the rest of the season (at Murray State).
They should roll through their fellow OVC rivals.
Nick Muszynski is a massive part of their success. He averages 16.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the post. There are not many centers who can contest him.
This contributes to Belmont’s 58.5% 2-point percentage. They are elite on the inside, which in turn, frees up shots for Will Richard, Caleb Hollander, Luke Smith and Ben Sheppard beyond the arc.
They have even more threats than just these names, but having Muszynski helps simply with his presence.
Belmont’s weakness is its defense. The Bruins struggle grabbing rebounds without Muszynski on the floor, so if he is sidelined or in foul trouble, they are sunk.
They allow an effective field goal percentage of 49.8% for opponents and do not force too many turnovers (20.4%). The opposition also nails 32.8% of their outside shots against Belmont, so if the Bruins encounter a strong shooting team in the tournament, they may have issues.
Murray State shoots well, so this is where it could potentially be able to leap Belmont in the OVC standings.
Muszynski is the Bruins’ rock, though. He should touch the ball on each possession. And with their elite stock of 3-point shooters, they should be set to put up more points than their opposition nearly every night they touch the floor.
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