BYU Basketball: 10 Mid-Majors with a Shot at Making the NCAA's Sweet 16

Chris LeydenCorrespondent IIMarch 3, 2011

BYU Basketball: 10 Mid-Majors with a Shot at Making the NCAA's Sweet 16

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    In a college basketball season where there is no definite No. 1 team, there are also an abnormal amount of mid-major teams that could make a lot of noise in the NCAA Tournament.

    As we have seen in past years with teams like George Mason, Northern Iowa and Butler, these smaller school can and will win in March.

    For many of these school just making the tournament is exciting enough, but for the 10 schools in this slideshow that won't be enough.

    The following slides consist of 10 mid-major teams that could potentially make it to the Sweet 16, and maybe even further.

    Feel free to comment below with what other mid-major teams could do damage come March Madness.

BYU Cougars

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    Many consider BYU to not only have a chance to make it to the Sweet 16, but to the Final Four and potentially win the entire tournament.

    The Cougars have undoubtedly the best player in the country in Jimmer Fredette, who is averaging over 27 points per game.

    The Cougars are currently 27-3 and have proven themselves by sweeping top-10 San Diego State.

    BYU may have been dealt its biggest blow of the year earlier this week when it was announced that Brandon Davies was kicked off the team for breaking the Honor Code.

    Even without Davies, the Cougars can beat anyone when they are on fire and have a lot of players around Fredette who can play top-notch basketball.

San Diego State Aztecs

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    The next best mid-major team is San Diego State, who is 28-2. The Aztecs only two loses all season have come to BYU.

    The Aztecs are ranked ninth in both polls and have played consistent basketball throughout the season.

    The only problem that arises with San Diego State is that, besides their two loses to BYU, they have not really played any title contenders.

    San Diego State is not going to put points up in bunches on any teams, but they play fundamental basketball and should be able to make it to at least the Sweet 16.

George Mason Patriots

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    The hottest team in the country right now is the George Mason Patriots.

    The Patriots are on a 15-game win streak and have finally made their way into the Top 25 polls.

    George Mason is 25-5 overall and has had its most successful season in program history.

    With a coach who has been there before, the Patriots are a team top seeds are not going to want to see come Selection Sunday, and they could very well push their way into the Sweet 16.

Temple Owls

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    When you have a coach like Fran Dunphy behind the bench, your team always has a chance of going to the Sweet 16.

    The Temple Owls have had an up-and-down season, but are up right now with their only loss in the last 11 games coming to Duke.

    The thing that makes Temple so attractive as a Sweet 16 pick is that they have made it a point of playing good teams to prepare for the tournament.

    Beside playing Duke, the Owls have also played Villanova, Georgetown and Maryland, and even beat the last two teams.

    This experience in big games will help the Owls come tournament time and make them an attractive pick to make some noise.

Xavier Musketeers

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    Staying in the Atlantic 10, the Xavier Musketeers are another team to watch come tournament time.

    The Musketeers currently lead the Atlantic 10 with a 14-1 conference record and are 23-6 overall.

    Although not as highly ranked as some of the Xavier teams of the past few years, they are currently ranked 23rd in the AP Poll.

    As many of us know, a team that has a star guard can go far in the tournament, and Xavier has that in Tu Holloway.

    Holloway is averaging over 20 points a game to go along with five assists and five rebounds. If he catches fire, he can put Xavier on his back and take them far.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

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    What kind of mid-major list would this be without Gonzaga on it? The Bulldogs have been the most consistently good mid-major of the past 10 years.

    Gonzaga like Xavier is having somewhat of a down year, but that won't stop them from still being a threat in the tournament.

    Gonzaga has played Kansas State, Illinois, Notre Dame and Baylor, among others, and will be ready to take on the big boys come tournament time.

    Although the Bulldogs may not have as good of a chance of making the Sweet 16 as past years, they are almost always still a threat.

Saint Mary's Gaels

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    Another west coast team, Saint Mary's could be a contender in the tournament after sticking with teams like BYU throughout the year. The Gaels only lost to the Cougars by a single point.

    Saint Mary's will run all over teams during March Madness, as they currently have the 13th-highest scoring offense in the nation.

    What is most impressive is that the Gaels make their shots, with the fifth-best shooting percentage in the country. This makes up for their rebounding problems, which have them all the way at 168th.

    The Gaels made some noise in last year's tournament and could potentially do the same this year.

Old Dominion Monarchs

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    Old Dominion was actually the last team to beat George Mason and currently sits in second place in the Colonial Conference.

    ODU will have one of the better big men in the tournament in Frank Hassell. Hassell currently averages over 14 points to go along with 9.8 rebounds.

    Although the only ranked team that the Monarchs played was Missouri, who embarrassed them, 81-58, they still have only lost six games all year.

    The biggest problem that stands in the way of ODU is they are looking like a No. 8 or 9 seed, and that means a second-round matchup with a No. 1 seed.

UNLV Rebels

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    UNLV is largely overshadowed by BYU and San Diego State in their conference, but they are putting together a solid season.

    The Rebels are actually 10-1 in conference play if you take the Cougars and Aztecs out of the equation, and they have won 22 games overall.

    UNLV has actually beaten Wisconsin, Kansas State and Virginia Tech, and could take down another big-conference team in the tournament.

    Although it seems unlikely that UNLV will make the tournament, they could put together a magical run, and not many would be surprised.

Butler Bulldogs

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    Although I could have just as easily have put Richmond or College of Charleston in this spot, I thought it was only fair to include last year's second-place team on the list.

    The Butler Bulldogs may not be nearly as good as last year, but they may have also gotten their act together just in time for the tournament.

    The Bulldogs were a weak 14-9 before winning seven in a row and pushing themselves back into the tournament.

    They still have Matt Howard from last year and have also played teams like Duke to prepare themselves.

    Butler has been through this process very recently, and that alone could help them into the Sweet 16.