Let me start by saying it’s an honor to be the named the chairman of the Mid-Major Top 25 voting panel. Now in its’ tenth year of existence, the Mid-Major Top 25 has become the authority on college basketball outside the proverbial power conferences. Casting a weekly vote is something everyone on the panel takes very seriously and I look forward to overseeing the process for the 2008-09 season.
The popularity of mid-major basketball has grown a great deal over the past nine years, which is due in large part to CollegeInsider.com’s advent of the Mid-Major Top 25. I don’t think it’s an accident that mid-major programs that have received at-large bids to the NCAA tournament were fixtures at the top of the Mid-Major poll.
Last season South Alabama spent the better part of the final two months ranked near the top, and despite a loss in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament semi-finals, received an at-large invitation to the big dance.
One of the best examples came in 2006, when George Mason lost in the semi-finals of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. Coach Jim Larranaga’s team spent the final two months of that season ranked in the top 5 of the poll and was rewarded with an at-large berth to the NCAAs. GMU took advantage of their ticket to the dance and advanced all the way to the Final Four.
And there are a number other examples where a team’s regular season success in the Mid-Major Top 25 rankings has resulted in at-large entry into the NCAA tournament. I think this a credit to the thirty-one coaches who cast a weekly vote. Being thorough has always been the number one point of emphasis and the voters have consistency delivered.
Having spent the past few seasons representing the Sun Belt Conference, I can tell you that it really has been something that I have spent a great deal of time working on each week. Speaking with countless others on the panel, I can tell you that they have approached it in similar fashion.
Once again the panel is a collection of outstanding coaches, all of whom understand the importance of such a rankings. Randy Bennett (St. Mary’s) and Brad Stevens (Butler) have seen their programs jump into the national rankings (AP Top and ESPN/USA Today Top 25), all the while they have continued to be voters on the mid-major panel. Jim Larranaga was a voter on the panel before his trip to the Final Four and has remained on the panel since.
Joining Randy, Brad and Jim on the panel this season are Steve Donahue (Cornell), Brad Holland (UC Santa Barbara), Kerry Keating (Santa Clara), Ritchie McKay (Liberty), and Scott Wagers (East Tennessee State). The five new additions should only make the Mid-Major Top 25 better.
As the previous chairman Jimmy Patsos (Loyola MD) stated many times -- the Mid-Major Top 25 is a valuable tool, but it’s only as good as those of us on the panel make it.
While there have been modifications to the process since its’ creation ten years ago, the list of conferences classified as mid-majors has remained unchanged. CollegeInsider.com established the original group of conferences and the voting panel has not made a single change to the grouping in ten years.
Over the past two seasons, Coach Patsos instituted some excellent changes, which included the Top 25 vote being due by noon (EST) every Monday (was due on Sunday in year’s past). This season I would like to expand on the promotion of the poll, further cementing it as the “measuring stick” for basketball outside the borders of “high profile.”
I have also discussed with CollegeInsider.com the idea of a “Mid-Major Forum,” which will give fans the opportunity to ask questions about the process, to be answered by me and other members of the voting panel. I think it’s important to create interaction with fans and I believe the “Mid-Major Forum” will be an excellent addition for the 2008-09 season.
You can look for that on CollegeInsider.com in the coming days.
Once again it really is a privilege to be the chairman of the Mid-Major Top 25 voting panel for the upcoming season. It’s great to be involved with an organization like CollegeInsider.com, which has done so much for coaches and the game of college basketball.