Looking for the mid-major contenders 

November, 26, 2008
11/26/08
1:05
PM ET
Looking back one calendar year, we can see that 24 of the AP Top 25 teams on Feast Week 2007 were destined to be thankful all season long. With the exception of North Carolina State, which never did shake off that L-Tryptophan, each squad listed qualified for the NCAA Tournament. It's an eerily prescient list too, with the 2008 Final Four quartet all lodged in the top positions.

A more difficult forecasting task is trying to figure out which schools among the tangled mass of mid-majors will enter the field to challenge the top seeds four months from now. Few saw eventual Round of 32 participant Siena coming, for example, and fewer could have predicted that San Diego and Western Kentucky would be battling for a spot in the Sweet 16.

Elite 8 team Davidson sounded a fair warning in the 2007 tournament, giving Maryland a scare in then-freshman Stephen Curry's national coming-out party (30 points), and the national media followed intently all season long. Butler's 30-win season was heralded by a Sweet 16 berth the previous year. But with all the prognostication tools at our disposal, how did we overlook the potential of teams like the Saints, Toreros and Hilltoppers?

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