With around 50 days left until the upcoming NCAA Basketball season, just about all of the rosters have been finalized and ready to go. Most of the focus is on the teams among the power conferences and who is most likely to make the Final Four. However, there are plenty of mid-major programs with fairly formidable rosters for the 2022-23 campaign that should be spotlighted.
This annual piece is about the best programs outside of the power conferences. This means any team from the ACC, Big Ten, Big East, AAC, Big 12, SEC, and Pac-12 are excluded. This is probably the last year to do that for the American Athletic Conference considering how much realignment is seen to impact them.
It also means that ALL teams from the Atlantic 10, Mountain West, WCC, Missouri Valley, and the rest of the smaller conferences are included, with no exceptions. Mainly because when it’s convenient, folks treat them like “mid-majors” so I might as well give them a spot to recognize them. Here are my top-25 overall teams, along with a few honorable mentions.
Honorable Mention: Towson Tigers
The Tigers lost just three games in the CAA by a combined 13 points and bring back four of their top five scorers from last season. The duo of Cameron Holden and Nicholas Timberlake are back after combining to produce 28.0 ppg and 13.4 rpg and should be the big favorites to win the league once again.
HM: Kent State Golden Flashes
Kent State was the MAC regular-season champions and returns the Conference Player of the Year Sincere Carry (17.9 ppg and 4.8 apg), as well as the team’s other double-digit scorer in Malique Jacobs. The 14-game winning streak until the conference title games gives the Golden Flashes a lot of momentum heading into this year and they could be the favorites to repeat as well.
HM: Boise State Broncos
Despite losing a ton of size up front and on the wings, Boise State still has a pair of quality returning starters in Marcus Shaver and Tyson Degenhart to run the offense. If they can get some production from former five-star prospect and freshman forward Sadraque NgaNga, they can potentially remain in the top tier of the Mountain West.
HM: San Francisco Dons
Despite not having head coach Todd Golden and star guard Jamaree Bouyea, don’t expect the Dons to drop too far in the WCC. Khalil Shabazz is back for a 5th year, while power conference transfers, Tyrell Roberts and Marcus Williams reload the backcourt. If transfer Toni Ročak can be a lead frontcourt player, they’ll compete for a top-2 spot in the league.
HM: Iona Gaels
Having head coach Rick Pitino around will always make the Gaels a contender in the MAAC but instead of having two lead guards leading the way, it’ll have to be a committee approach. Walter Clayton and Berrick JeanLouis are the returning perimeter players, while Anton Brookshire and Daniss Jenkins are newcomers with potential. Star forward Nelly Junior Joseph is the star of the team but the supporting cast is more of a question compared to last year.