The 2022 NCAA tournament kicked off with several red-hot mid-majors threatening to tear down the gridiron. Trendy upset picks like Murray State, San Francisco, State of Colorado, State of South Dakota, Chattanooga and there were many Loyola faithful in Chicago. So, of course, the mid-major team that made it the farthest was No. 15 seed St. Peters, who dropped Kentucky and Purdue on the way to the elite eight.

No one outside of Shaheen Holloway’s family saw the Peacocks’ stunning run. However, we are on the threshold of the 2022-2023 season and trying to determine the next one little guy to heat up in March. Good luck with all of this.

Our panel of 17 college basketball experts have predicted several key events in the upcoming college basketball campaign, and we’ll be making these really silly calls once a day leading up to the season. The beginning is our panel’s attempt to find Cinderella.

What mid-major makes a deep march?

Here is an example of the arguments of our experts:

San Diego State

Brian Dutcher is entering his sixth season as head coach and has done an outstanding job continuing the program’s success under Steve Fisher. The only thing he hasn’t done is win the NCAA Tournament, although in fairness the Aztecs were headed for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in 2020 when the tournament was canceled. The Aztecs return several key players from the team that lost in overtime Creighton in the first round last year, including a pair of formidable super seniors at 6-4 guard Matt Bradley and 6-10 center Nathan Mensah. — Seth Davis

Matt Bradley is exactly the kind of guard that can carry a mid-major into the second weekend, especially a mid-major that checks in like Brian Dutcher’s team does. — Joe Rexrod

I think they are *technically* considered a mid-major, so I’ll say San Diego State. This is an old team with four upperclassmen, which is always a key component of a March run. Also, they have to be great defensively. — Nicole Auerbach

The Aztecs haven’t had much luck in the NCAA Tournament in recent years with injuries, setbacks and (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, so this should definitely be it. They are according to reports played UCLA during last weekend’s secret scrimmage, showing his potential to hang with the big boys. — Brian Bennett


Gonzaga. JK JK. Gonzaga is not a secondary major. Dayton? Assuming we’re fine with that, let’s pick the Flyers, where Anthony Grant’s retooled young team already arrived early a year ago. — Eamon Brennan

There’s a bit of cheating here, if only because the Flyers will be included in the top 25 worthy to start the season. Reaching the Sweet 16 wouldn’t be a huge surprise. However, they are a mid-major with a defensive identity led by Darron Holmes who could develop into an All-American two-way group. — Brian Hamilton

It’s a shame we’ll never know what Anthony Grant’s team under Obi Taupin could have done in the 2020 NCAA Tournament, but this is Dayton’s best team since. — Brendan Marks


Darian DeVries has a really good experienced point guard Roman Pen and a sophomore who should be getting buckets at the high major level, but it just so happens to be his son in Tucker DeVries. DeVries also benefited slyly from the portal in the former Florida State/Texas Tech wing Sardaar Calhoun. He should thrive at this level. — CJ Moore

Uploaded by the elderly. Reserve in the rear area. Coach with NCAA tournament experience. Order. — Brendan Quinn


The Paladins just missed a trip to the tournament last season with a close game loss to Chattanooga in the Southern Conference championship game. But they return a lot of experience and acquaintances, including fifth-year players and top scorers Mike Bothwell and Jalen Slawsonalong with another starter returning to Marcus Foster. — Justin Williams

St. Louis

The Billikens played all of last year without Javonte Perkins and still won 23 games. Perkins plus four starters are back, including a point guard Yuri Collins, who played with the portal. Before he tore his ACL, Perkins was averaging 17 points per game, and he was shooting 38 percent from the arc. Take his skill and Travis Ford’s experienced roster and you have the perfect recipe for a March upset. — Dana O’Neill


Last season, Andy Kennedy’s team won 27 games and made the NCAA Tournament Blazers the return of Conference USA Player of the Year Jordan “Jelly” Walker, a guy who can (and did twice last season) hit someone with 40 points. — Kyle Tucker

UC Santa Barbara

In my opinion, the three best true mid-majors in the country are North Texas, UAB, and Western Kentucky. But they all play in Conference USA, so it’s hard to pick one. So let’s go with Gaucho, a group filled with great talent. The frontcourt is a terrific combination of productive former Pac-12 guys in Myles Norris and Andre Kelly. But there is a person worth watching Ajay MitchellThe team’s 6-4 lead guard, who won Big West Freshman of the Year honors, could end up being the same terrific lead guard that could lead the team to a tournament upset – Sam Vecheni

Western Kentucky

The Hilltoppers are loaded with talent. They return the top player in college basketball, Jamarion Sharp, who led the nation in blocks (4.6), and the leading scorer Davion McKnight averaged 16.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. They also added three spectacular passes Emmanuel Acott (Boise State), Christian Lander (Indiana), and Dontay Allen (Kentucky). If they can put it all together, I wouldn’t want to play this team. — Tobias Bass


Last year, it was an upset first-round matchup with an Indiana team that remained in the spotlight, but with a little more luck, Jeff Linder could lead them to the Sweet 16. — Hugh Kellenberger

(Our full panel of experts: Nicole Auerbach, Tobias Bass, Brian Bennett, Eamon Brennan, Seth Davis, Scott Dochterman, Brian Hamilton, Hugh Kellenberger, Brendan Marks, Austin Meek, CJ Moore, Dana O’Neill, Brendan Quinn , Joe Rexrod , Kyle Tucker, Sam Veseny and Justin Williams.)

(Photo by San Diego State’s Matt Bradley: Kevin Jairaj/USA Today)