March Madness 2013: Mid-Majors That Will Make Noise in Big Dance

Mike MoraitisAnalyst IMarch 3, 2013

Feb 23, 2013; Fort Collins, CO, USA; New Mexico Lobos guard Kendall Williams (10) reacts following the win over the Colorado State Rams at Moby Arena. The Lobos defeated the Rams 91-82. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

With all the great teams in the bigger conferences of college basketball, it's easy to overlook some schools in the lesser-known conferences, but there are some mid-major schools that are primed to make some noise in the Big Dance.

No. 2 Gonzaga (29-2) is the most obvious choice to be a mid-major school to make some serious waves in the 2013 NCAA tournament as the Bulldogs are primed to take the No. 1 seed when the new rankings come out.

But let's take some time to focus on other schools people aren't talking about much that can make a serious impact during the tourney.

Here are some mid-majors that fit the bill.


No. 14 New Mexico Lobos (25-4, 12-2 in Mountain West Conference)

New Mexico is having itself a sensational season as it sits atop the Mountain West standings with a three-game lead over Colorado State.

The Lobos started off the season hot after winning their first 12 games and have now won their last five contests with just two games remaining in the regular season.

Top teams in the Big Dance should be concerned about facing the Lobos because of some of the impressive victories they've had this season. New Mexico has beaten four ranked opponents in Connecticut, Cincinnati, UNLV and Colorado State.

To make those wins more impressive, the victories over the Bearcats and Rams were both on the road. In games at a neutral site, the Lobos are undefeated this season, which should bode well during the NCAA tournament.

Clearly, New Mexico can beat good teams in any venue and that makes the Lobos extremely dangerous.


No. 18 Saint Louis Billikens (23-5, 12-2 in Atlantic 10 Conference)

Saint Louis didn't have such a great start to the season after losing three of its first six games, but a nine-game winning streak helped the Billikens turn their season around.

After losing two games in a row after that impressive streak, the Billikens are now in the midst of a an 11-game streak and are one up in the loss column over Virginia Commonwealth for the Atlantic 10 Conference lead.

The Billikens have some notable wins this season, including four against ranked opponents such as New Mexico, Butler (two times) and Virginia Commonwealth. One of the wins against the Bulldogs was on the road, and Saint Louis beat three of those opponents by 14 points or more.

Another great thing about the Billikens is that they have a balanced offense that can get great contributions from any player on a given night. Dwayne Evans remains the constant for this squad, but a guy like Kwamain Mitchell can also step up to shoulder the scoring burden for the Billikens.


No. 19 Memphis Tigers (25-4, 14-0 in Conference USA)

After a lackluster 6-3 start to the season, the Tigers caught fire and went on to win their next 18 consecutive games. Memphis currently holds a three-game advantage over Southern Miss for first place in the conference.

The only negative about the Tigers' season is that they haven't beaten any quality opponents and their one game against a ranked opponent resulted in a loss to Louisville. However, teams can't make their own schedules and the Tigers have done a great job beating teams they are expected to.

On the brighter side, the Tigers have been able to score a ton of points on the offensive end as they are No. 28 in the nation in points per game and shoot 48 percent from the floor, which is good enough for No. 16 in the country.

Furthermore, the Tigers are an unselfish squad as evidenced by their No. 7 ranking in assists per game. That kind of ball movement should help Memphis play well against stiffer competition since great passing can break down even the most talented defensive units.

Balanced scoring is also another positive for the Tigers with six players averaging eight points or more per game, so production can come from several different options.