Preseason Rankings for Mid-Major College Basketball: For the second time in NCAA tournament history, we witnessed a clash of mid-major titans in the 2023 Final Four. This rare occurrence last happened in 2011, when Butler triumphed over VCU, earning a ticket to the National Championship Game before succumbing to Connecticut. Now, let’s delve into the preseason mid-major rankings and explore what bettors can anticipate from the outlook of Florida Atlantic and San Diego State in the upcoming campaign, examining their positions in men’s college basketball odds. But first, a spoiler alert: Gonzaga won’t be considered in my top five.
Taking an overall view, the Gaels secure a spot in the top 10 of my college basketball power rankings. Market dynamics align with this, pricing them near even money to clinch the WCC regular-season title. This might come as a surprise, but considering Randy Bennett’s squad’s potential to advance further in the Big Dance, had they been in a different region, sheds light on their capabilities.
Despite losing key players like Logan Johnson and Kyle Bowen, Saint Mary’s is poised for success. Aidan Mahaney, a sophomore guard, is expected to step up as one of the premier players at his position, displaying prowess both behind the arc and in pick-and-roll sets. The addition of near-top-100 recruit Jordan Ross bolsters the backcourt depth.
With Mitchell Saxon’s formidable 4.5% block rate anchoring their defense, the Gaels hold the potential for a Final Four appearance.
While FAU now shares a conference with Memphis, my projections place Penny Hardaway’s crew ahead. This decision stems from recognizing the impact of one-game variance, as seen when the Owls defeated the Tigers in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The loss of key players like Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams hasn’t deterred Hardaway, who strategically rebuilt the roster through the portal. Jahvon Quinerly, David Jones, and Caleb Mills bring valuable additions, maintaining the team’s ball pressure.
For those following my conference tournament wagers, the Lobos have been in consideration for the past two years, although not resulting in profit. Despite that, Richard Pitino’s squad retains 53.3% of the returning possession minutes from the previous season, featuring a strong guard tandem in Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Jaelen House. The addition of Nelly Junior Joseph from Iona bolsters rim protection, addressing concerns about defensive efficiency. Jermel Baker, joining from Fresno State, contributes a ballhawk presence on the wing.
San Diego State, previously backed by me to make the Final Four, now faces some skepticism in preseason college basketball odds. The departure of key players like Nathan Mensah and Keshad Johnson, coupled with the defensive focus on running opponents off the three-point line, poses challenges. The impact of USC transfer Reese Dixon-Waters remains uncertain.
In closing, Wichita State stands as the lone true mid-major to sustain March Madness excellence over the last decade. FAU enthusiasts may need to be cautious, considering the Owls’ No. 57 ranking in KenPom’s luck rating, indicating potential negative regression in close-game scenarios this season.