Kyle Whelliston of The Mid-Majority has defined an objective line between high- and mid-major college basketball teams. It's called the red line, and it separates the eight major conferences in Division-I men's college basketball whose member schools have an average athletics budget over $20 million and an average men's basketball program budget over $2 million from the 25 mid-major conferences whose budgets are below those numbers. When a team from below the line beats a team from above the line it's a "red line upset."
Here are 10 potential red line upsets for a weekend that begins a with a Friday slate of 124 games. Games are ranked by likelihood of embarrassment. Is your team at risk?
1. West Virginia at No. 21 Gonzaga, Monday
While Gonzaga is technically a mid-major and West Virginia is a high-major on paper, nobody will be surprised when the always-mighty Zags take down middling West Virginia. Huggins lost his two most efficient starters, and this will be a tough way for the Mountaineers to start what may be a long season. Mark Few has Kevin Pangos and three more starters back to make an already great team even better.
Pomeroy gives Gonzaga an 82 percent shot.
2. Nevada at UC-Irvine, Saturday
Conference realignment made this potential red line upset possible. The Wolf Pack won 28 games as part of the WAC but lost starters Olek Czyz and Dario Hunt as they crossed into high-majordom in the Mountain West. With all five of their starters back, Irvine wouldn't mind a red line upset to start what could be a dominant season in the Big West.
Pomeroy gives UC-Irvine a 56 percent shot.
3. Virginia at George Mason, Friday
This game has great potential and should be an even matchup. Tony Bennett lost Mike Scott and two other starters from his team that just couldn't get any momentum down the stretch last season. Paul Hewitt is showing he's worth every penny after winning 24 games in his first season at GMU. The Patriots aren't near CAA-favorites Drexel or Delaware, but they return three starters and boast excellent depth at every position.
Pomeroy gives George Mason a 55 percent shot.
4. Loyola Marymount at Southern Methodist, Sunday
I know, picking on one of the worst teams in a conference that many don't consider to be high-major. Still it's definitionally correct and Larry Brown doesn't have much to work with in his first season as his big name transfers have to watch from the sidelines. An upset wouldn't be a good start to his renewed career. Marymount offers nothing special this season, but they wouldn't mind a win here.
Pomeroy gives Loyola Marymount a 48 percent shot.
5. Montana at Colorado State, Friday
This matchup needs a cool name, like "The Rumble in the Rockies" or something. Montana, of the Big Sky Conference, comes in as the mid-major underdog, but has a shot at a Colorado State team that won 20 games last season and returns three starters but has serious deficiencies in the frontcourt.
Pomeroy gives Montana a 33 percent shot.
6. Cal Poly at TCU, Friday
Cal Poly is an average Big West team if that, but TCU lost some efficient pieces and has little depth. It's possible that they could end up regretting this scheduling gaffe.
Pomeroy gives Cal Poly a 31 percent shot.
7. Bucknell at Purdue, Friday
I'm looking forward to this one: a fight between truly disparate programs with upset possibilities. Bucknell have become synonymous with dominating the Patriot League thanks to back-to-back 25-win seasons, and they return four starters. Purdue lost some big talent, including Robbie Hummel in the offseason, but they're still the favorites by far in this one.
Pomeroy gives Bucknell a 27 percent shot.
8. Detroit at St. John's, Tuesday
Detroit came within six points of an upset against St. John's last season, but they're not as good as they were with Eli Holman, LaMarcus Lowe and Chase Simon gone. Steve Lavin is without God'sgift Achiuwa but he has everyone else back and the Red Storm will be competitive in the Big East. They were picked 10th in their preseason poll.
Pomeroy gives Detroit a 27 percent shot.
9. Lehigh at No. 19 Baylor, Friday
Here's a matchup that pits a probable first-round draft pick in preseason All-American C.J. McCollum against the 19th ranked team in the nation. Lehigh returns three other starters and feature one of the best backcourts in mid-major basketball, but they'll be hard pressed to take down Pierre Jackson, Isaiah Austin and Ricardo Gathers. I wish this game would be kind of close.
Pomeroy gives Lehigh an 18 percent shot.
10. Milwaukee at South Carolina, Sunday
The Horizon League's Milwaukee nearly lost to Division-II Parkside in an exhibition last week after their starting shooting guard went down with a hand injury to his non-shooting hand, so this one became a lot more unlikely. Even so, the Gamecocks return two starters to their 10-win team and won't be as solid in the frontcourt.
Pomeroy gives Milwaukee a 28 percent chance.