I cannot begin to tell you how much I respect the teams, players and coaches at the "mid-major" level. The players and coaches work just as hard, play with every bit as much passion, and want to win just as badly as those at any other level of play. Mid-majors dream just as big. Every player at the mid-major level wants to play on TV in front of the big crowds, have Dick Vitale and Billy Packer do their games, and get a chance, just a chance, to play for it all in March.
Like the players in the old days of college basketball, when only one team from each conference advanced to the NCAA Tournament, the vast majority of mid-major players have an enormous amount of pressure on them during Championship Week. Most mid-majors have to win their conference's automatic bid to feel comfortable about being in the field on Selection Sunday, and they know it. That, my friends, is real pressure.
Players in the Big East or ACC know when they have a bid locked up, and they can pursue their league crown with a free mind. Mid-major players know that a great season can go relatively unrewarded if they get clipped in their conference tournament. Do you think they might short-arm one or tense up a bit knowing that their dream of playing in the NCAA Tournament is riding on every play? You bet they might.