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Which mid-majors will be the best in the 2020-21 college basketball season?

Isaiah Miller and UNC-Greensboro look to be one of the toughest mid-major squads in the country this season.

College basketball is coming back (we think), and when it gets here (we hope) there will be plenty of excitement for fans watching on TV screens across the nation.

We’ve already given you five programs you might be surprised to learn will contend in 2020-21, but which mid-majors will make noise this season?

We got you, fam.

Here’s a list of some of the most dangerous mid-majors heading into what we hope will be the 2020-21 season:

UNC-Greensboro

The Spartans are always a force in the Southern Conference, and this year will be no different as tenured head coach Wes Miller returns the league’s best backcourt.

Senior guard Isaiah Miller is this team’s engine, and the six-foot sparkplug led UNCG in scoring (17.8 PPG), assists (3.1) and steals (2.8) while also pulling down 5 boards per game.

UNCG always has athletes, and Miller is no exception. This kid can jump out of the gym, and he flirted with entering the NBA Draft before deciding to return to Greensboro. He also became the first player in SoCon history to win the conference’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.

6-4 junior Kaleb Hunter is a consistent scorer (10.3 PPG, 51.0% FG) and will take another step up this season. Greensboro beat Georgetown and narrowly lost to NC State last season, and they’ll have a shot to make some NCAA noise if they can outlast Furman and the rest of the SoCon in the league’s always-unpredictable conference tourney.

Richmond

Dayton earned all of the national headlines last season, and rightfully so with National Player of the Year Obi Toppin, a 29-2 record, an 18-0 run through the league, and a Top-5 ranking. This year, it could be Richmond’s turn to run things in the A-10.

The Spiders return a bunch of talent from a team that went 24-7 and 14-4 in the league, and won nine of its last 10 games. They would have been heading to the NCAA Tournament if there had been one last season.

Richmond is in great shape to bust through this season though, thanks to senior Jacob Gilyard. The 5-9 guard out of Kansas City is dynamic in Chris Mooney’s Princeton-style offense, and he’s crafty and shifty enough to easily get his own shot.

Senior center Grant Golden is also one of the best big men in the A-10, and that inside-out balance will give Richmond the chance for a special season.

San Diego State

It’s difficult to classify the Aztecs as a mid-major, but if you do, this team could easily be the best of the bunch. Last year, San Diego State had a special season, going 30-2 and 17-1 in the Mountain West, and ascending to No. 4 in the national rankings.

Much of that success had to do with point guard Malachi Flynn, who filled up the stat sheet with 17.6 points, 5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game and played his way into becoming a potential first-round NBA Draft pick.

Flynn is gone, but 6-6 junior Matt Mitchell has the chance to take his place as go-to scorer and best player on what should be a Top-25 caliber team.

Brian Dutcher has done a masterful job in replacing the legendary Steve Fisher, and he’s got the program humming the way it was back when Kawhi Leonard was playing for the Aztecs. This season should be no different.

Northern Iowa 

Junior guard AJ Green (19 .7 PPG) leads the Panthers, who topped the Missouri Valley at 25-6 last season and edged recent Final Four team Loyola-Chicago for the league title. Both teams have the chance to bust brackets come March, but we’ll take UNI here because of their depth. Trae Berhow is a capable scorer alongside Green, who ranks as one of the best mid-major players in the country. The Valley always has good teams, and its champion is usually capable of making a deep run once the Madness begins. We’re betting that could happen again.

Western Kentucky

Former Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury has slowly been building this Western Kentucky program, and although the Hilltoppers haven’t yet reached the NCAA Tournament under Stansbury, this could be the year they break out.

6-11 center Charles Bassey is one of the best under-the-radar bigs in the nation, having averaged 15.3 points and 9.2 boards for WKU last season. Senior guard Taveion Hollingsworth led the ‘Toppers in scoring at 16.6 points per game, and shot an impressive 47 percent from the field.

Six players averaged in double figures in scoring for this high-octane group last year, and most are back this season. Western Kentucky will be favored to win Conference USA, and like former champs UAB and Middle Tennessee State, is more than capable of shocking some people in the NCAAs.

Stansbury nearly jump-started this proud program’s return to mid-major prominence a few years ago when he stunned everyone by landing future lottery pick Mitchell Robinson–now with the New York Knicks– before Robinson abruptly left campus. Now, it’s been more of a slow burn, but Stansbury’s project may finally be complete. We’ll find out soon enough. Hopefully.

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