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March Madness: Best Seasons for Mid-Major Conferences of the Last Decade

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Game_Onair_MattRyan_640x480_120413 Matt Ryan
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The New Mexico Lobos have been the top team in college basketball's top mid-major of 2013 (Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images).

The New Mexico Lobos have been the top team in college basketball’s top mid-major of 2013 (Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images).

While the Big Ten has been the top conference in college basketball this season, the best mid-major has been the Mountain West Conference. The nine-member league sent four teams to the tourney last season and could send as many as five this year (Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, and UNLV). That could equal the same number of teams the 16-member Atlantic 10 sends to the NCAA Tournament. However, the MWC isn’t the only mid-major in recent years that was heavily represented in the postseason.

Conference USA

Year: 2004

Conference Members: 14

NCAA Tournament Bids: 6 (UAB, Charlotte, Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Memphis)

Moment in March: UAB makes the Sweet Sixteen as a 9-seed after knocking off first-seeded Kentucky in the round of 32, 76-75.

Missouri Valley Conference

Year: 2006

Conference Members: 10

NCAA Tournament Bids: 4 (Bradley, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Wichita State)

Moment in March: The conference is represented in the Sweet Sixteen by both Bradley and Wichita State.

Colonial Athletic Association

Year: 2011

Conference Members: 12

NCAA Tournament Bids: 3 (George Mason, Old Dominion, VCU)

Moment in March: VCU goes from the First Four to the Final Four as an 11-seed in the first year of the 68-team tourney.

West Coast Conference

Year: 2012

Conference Members: 9

NCAA Tournament Bids: 3 (BYU, Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s)

Moment in March: Only Gonzaga advances past the field of 64, where the Zags lost in the second round.

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