College Basketball: “Mid-major” magic

By Jeff Fasoldt, @Jeff_Fasoldt

Every year as March comes around and the madness settles in, we eye our brackets with hope, but never seem to end up very satisfied.

This year has been no different. The “Cinderellas” are at it again, and the “mid-major” schools are becoming the common fans frustration and the overall talk of college basketball.

For those of you who don’t know where the term “mid-major” comes from, there are five major conferences in college basketball — the ACC, Big-10, Pac-12, Big-12, and SEC. The schools in these conferences are referred to as the “high-majors.” All the rest, the “unknowns” are “mid-majors.”

Dangerous — this is perhaps the best word to describe these types of teams. You can ask Mike Krzyzewski, Bill Self, and Jim Boeheim.

These Hall of Fame (Kryzewski, Boeheim) or future Hall of Fame (Self) coaches of Duke, Kansas, and Syracuse are already looking forward to next season thanks to early tournament upsets.

North Dakota State, Harvard, and Stephen F. Austin were all 12-seeds and also “mid-majors” in the tournament that knocked off the favorite in the first round.

The Dayton Flyers and the Stanford Cardinal will battle for a spot in the Elite Eight on Thursday.

Dayton, the lone Atlantic 10 team left in the tournament, is led by Devin Oliver, Vee Sanford, and Matt Kavanaugh — three seniors who made some of the younger Syracuse Orange players look silly.

And Stanford, who plays out of the Pac-12, is technically not a “mid-major,” but is a 10-seed in the tournament and usually a forgotten team in the Pac-12. The Cardinal’s three top scorers are all juniors, and the rest of the players getting minutes are either seniors or juniors.

So, with all these upsets and these highly favored teams losing in embarrassing fashions, it spurs the question: Can the highly talented, but not as experienced, freshmen not keep up with the experienced “grown men?”

This has been proven undoubtedly true. While Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis have garnered most of the attention this year, teams like Louisville and Michigan State are favorites to win the tournament.

These are experienced teams who play like a team. Take a look at the Florida Gators who start four seniors, and have extremely good odds of winning the tourney.

How about the Virginia Cavaliers? They have flown under the radar all season, but they play as a team better than just about any other team in the nation, making at least five passes before a shot on each possession. They are in the Sweet Sixteen and will battle against Michigan State in a pivotal matchup.

Proper fundamentals. Experience. Good team basketball. These three factors have proven to be the key to success in the tournament so far.

Having a Wiggins or a Parker on your team may be fun to watch during the regular season, but come tournament time it seems that experience has prevailed.

The men have been separated from the boys.

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