CollegeInsider.com recently published the first version of their Mid-Major Top 25 and both the Akron Zips and Toledo Rockets were voted in. Akron rounds out the top ten at #10 while Toledo just snuck in at #23. Both Ohio and Kent State were in the "also receiving votes" category.
Wichita State (24 votes) and Gonzaga (7) were the top two teams in the poll. BYU, New Mexico State, and Indiana State rounded out the top five.
Preseason polls are normally punch lines, but this one actually has some substance. CollegeInsider.com has been doing this for awhile now (15 years) and the poll is generally looked at by various media types. As the rise of the mid-major in college basketball continues, being on top of this poll means even more.
On top of that, mid-major coaches actually vote on it every week. Some of the more well-know coaches are Randy Bennett (St. Mary's), Billy Donlon (Wright State), Greg Kampe (Oakland), Gregg Marshall (Wichita State), and Jimmy Patsos (Siena). The MAC is represented by Tod Kowalcyzk and Steve Hawkins.
Akron has been a stalwart in this poll for the past five years or so. If memory serves me correctly, they were a constant in the top five during their seventeen game winning streak last season.
For Toledo, this continues the preseason hype machine. College Sports Madness rated them the best in the MAC and 89th in the country in their preseason Top 144 Countdown. The Rockets will be good, that's for sure. But those projections are really being based on the arrival of talented transfers J.D. Weatherspoon (Ohio State) and Justin Drummond (Loyola Maryland). No one knows how their games will transfer to the MAC yet, so who knows if the preseason hype is warranted.
We'll definitely keep a watch on this poll this year to see how the MAC teams end up. I wouldn't be surprised to see Akron and Toledo in the Top 10 and Buffalo/Western Michigan/Kent State/Ohio in the 20's.