College Basketball: Week 1 mid-major power rankings for 2023-24

(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
(Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images) /
1 of 5
James Madison Basketball
James Madison’s Terrence Edwards, Jr. celebrates after teammate Raekwon Horton made a 3-pointer. /

UCLA is not a mid-major program but let’s look at the annual mid-major power rankings after week one play for the 2023-2024 season.

A ton of college basketball fans know the Power Five conference teams as they also are aware of other notable teams not from those five conferences Gonzaga from the West Coast Conference, as well as the well-known teams playing in the Mountian West, Atlantic 10, Big East, and American Athletic conferences.

Basketball programs and the universities they represent from the non-power five conferences from the conferences listed above are part of a bigger size of group of teams that are considered high-tier or upper-tier “mid-major” college basketball division one programs like UConn, Marquette, and Houston.

Before going in-depth and explaining the main ideas and philosophy behind these Mid-Major rankings, it is necessary to take a look at what has transpired from last season to this season in terms of programs transitioning to Division One basketball this season. According to the NCAA, “363 Division I teams; 352 will be eligible for the DI men’s basketball tournament and 363 will count in the NET rankings.”  Therefore, only a very small amount of teams may not be included in these power rankings that are considered mid-major programs due to them not being eligible for the NCAA tournament that begins in March of 2024.

One major difference between the power rankings from last season and the season before this season is that few teams like FAU, North Texas, and UAB are not eligible for these mid-major power rankings like they were last season due to them moving to the AAC conference from Conference USA. Approximately, 240 plus teams are eligible to be included in these power rankings in comparison to the 248 teams from last season as well.

Now here listed below are a few answers to some questions that may be asked while looking at and reading these mid-major college basketball rankings for those unfamiliar who have not been following these particular mid-major power rankings the past two seasons.

Answers to some questions about these mid-major rankings

Why are there only 23 conferences, one independent team, and most of the programs from the West Coast Conference in these power rankings?

Why are there approximately 240 plue-eligible teams and 23 conferences plus some other teams in these rankings but not other teams that are considered to be mid-major teams? The most logical and easy explanation for why there are nine higher profile and financially high-generating conferences which are the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big East, AAC, the Atlantic 10, and Mountain West that are not part of these rankings will be explained and why they are not considered for these mid-major power rankings will be explained below with specific answers and with thoughtful reasons with examples.

The main reason is that the nine conferences mentioned get more media coverage and attention and have by comparison to other mid-major conferences, quality, good, and substantial media rights deals, and are more than certain to get multiple teams from their conference, bids to the NCAA Tournament than the other 23 other conferences that are more than likely to get only one team into the upcoming 2024 NCAA Tournament.

For example in the 2022 NCAA tournament, the Big East had six teams in the tournament while the Mountain West had four teams participate in the NCAA tournament. The American and Atlantic 10 each had two teams participate in the NCAA tournament as well in 2022. Until the NCAA tournament potentially expands to 90 or 96 or a conference like the Western Athletic or the Missouri Valley gets multiple teams in the NCAA tournament in consecutive years, these mid-major power rankings will have these procedures and guidelines and procedures moving forward when determining which teams are included in these rankings.

Are the criteria of the five rankings listed below that have been chosen for these college basketball power rankings and the total number of points for each team based on those rankings, the only variable to determine these rankings?

No, and with teams competing in non-conference play these rankings are partially determined primarily by the five ranking systems that will be explained in these mid-major power rankings. For example, beating a traditional power five conference team on the road carries more weight in these rankings like how a team like James Madison went on the road and defeated Michigan State in comparison to a team that is more well known like Western Kentucky whose season-opening victory was against non-division one opponent Kentucky Wesleyan.

Also, the team’s strength of schedule especially early in non-conference play matters as well because many teams are unable to get a quality win early in non-conference play.

Are these rankings subjective and up for debate?

Yes, there are no power rankings that are flawless and perfect and these mid-major power rankings were created on specific chosen criteria that are unique and different from any other college basketball power rankings. These rankings for mid-major teams are always difficult, challenging, and open for debate and discussion among media members, fans, and alums of mid-major universities who debate and talk about mid-major basketball programs and how well they are doing early in the season.