Mike Rhoades, head coach at VCU Rams, is Kelly/Getty Images/AFP
These five coaches from the mid-majors have an opportunity to lead their teams to success as the 2020-21 college basketball season nears.
Sports betting sites have established their odds that a team will win the NCAA Tournament in 2020/21 college basketball season. The Power-Five conference teams make up the majority of the noise, but Cinderella runs are what most basketball fans look forward to come March.These five coaches from the mid-major have made a name for themselves in the college basketball coaching industry.. Here are the names to know when you enter the season, having set up their programs for success.
Scott Nagy, Wright State Raiders. Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP
5. Scott Nagy, Wright State
Scott Nagy, who is in his fifth season with Raiders, is expected to win again the Horizon League in 2020. Nagy was a South Dakota State alumnus who earned three NCAA Tournament bids during his five years at the university. He has been a Tournament participant in 2017/18, and has won the conference regular-season in each of the last two years. His team failed to make the conference tournament this year and he had to settle for an NIT spot, after the season was halted by COVID-19. The year ended in a disappointing fashion.
Regardless of the final result, Wright State has won at least 20 games in each of Nagy’s four years at the helm. His program is now one of the most consistent in conference, and he returns six of last season’s top eight scorers in 2020/21. The Raiders’ 6-foot-8 big man Loudon Love averaged 15.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 2019/20 and will presumably crush the program’s rebounding record this year and end his collegiate career as one of the best scorers to ever play at Wright State.
Nagy, who is 54 years old, is a formidable coach, great recruiter, and one to keep an eye on as the coaching carousel continues turning over the next few seasons. While odds of Wright State winning the National Championship are not available at sports betting sites, that does not mean it won’t. When top-rated betting sites start to offer odds for conference titles, the Raiders are the favourites in the Horizon League, and it will be a great wager.
Joe Pasternack in Arizona during his time as an Assistant. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP
4. Joe Pasternack University of California Santa Barbara
UCSB has won more than 21 games each year Joe Pasternack has been head coach. Louisiana native and 43-year-old Louisianan, he began his coaching career at New Orleans. In 2017, he was hired as the Gauchos’ coach. He led a team that finished at 6-22 in 2016/17. His first season saw him win 23 games.
Pasternack’s leadership has seen his team finish second in the conference. However, this could be the year UCSB wins the Big West to secure an NCAA Tournament berth. The Gauchos boast an elite front court, including Miles Norris (6’10”) and Amadou SOW (6.5’10), both former Oregon forwards. JaQuori McLaughlin will be the team’s leading guard and should be a legitimate Big West Player of the Year candidate come March. To help lessen the blow of Max Heidegger’s departure, Pasternack tapped into the transfer portal and added Destin Barnes, a 6-foot-7 wing who averaged 12.1 points at Jacksonville last season.
Odds are not available for UCSB to win the NCAA Tournament or the Big West, but when betting sites open their lines, expect Pasternack’s squad to contend for the top spot in the conference, at the very least.
Chris Jans, New Mexico State Aggies Head Coach. New Mexico State won 85 to 57. Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images/AFP
3. Chris Jans, New Mexico State
Chris Jans was hired at New Mexico State in 2017. He has won three consecutive Western Athletic Conference coach of the year awards. He led his team to two NCAA Tournament wins in his first two seasons, and what is likely to be a third last season.
Jans was not the only one who took control. The Aggies have been the WAC team to beat and will continue to be so this season. Four starters will be replaced in 2019/20. However, that shouldn’t be a problem for a team with eight transfers, which includes three former Division I players. Marcus Watson is from Oklahoma State. Donnie Tillman was a top-50 prospect out of highschool. Donnie Tillman averaged 10.2 points, 4.7 rebound and 2.0 assists at UNLV. Jacob Tryon, who hails from Portland, will be a big, skilled center who can extend the defense with his outside shooting.
New Mexico State, if the five junior college transfer students can step up and provide quality depth, will be a dangerous conference team. They will definitely go dancing again in 2020/21. They will not only get there again, If March Madness starts, the Aggies might be worth watching to see if they pull off an upset..
If online sports betting sites have odds available for conference winners, Aggies odds may reflect the departures of the majority of the team’s starting five in 2019/20. If this is true, then the high value of a Jans-led team winning the WAC will make a great bet.
Earl Grant is the Charleston Cougars’ Head Coach. Donald Miralle/Getty Images/AFP
2. Earl Grant, College of Charleston
Earl Grant, 43 years old, will be leading the College of Charleston basketball tournament for seventh year. He continues to be a prominent figure in coaching carousel talks after each season. In his first year, the Cougars were 9-24 and have not lost more than 15 games since. The record for his group was 17-14 in 2019/20. However, it finished in the top 25 nationally for turnover percentage and in top 60 for free-throw shooting.Grant is a firm believer in team discipline and has made Charleston a place where it is practiced.
Grant will need to replace his starting line-up in 2020/21, but he brought in two talented recruiting classes to help fill the gap. Dontavious King can be described as a physical forward with a strong point guard and the ability to shoot from beyond his arch. Brenden Tucker and Trevon Reddish are both athletic guards that will need to be in charge of the backcourt if Charleston hopes to get to the NCAA Tournament.
Although there are no odds that Charleston will win the Colonial Athletic Association, the uncertainty surrounding this group could make Grant teams more attractive to those who want to compete at the top of the conference. Keep checking our top-rated betting sites for college basketball to bet on the outcome.
Mike Rhoades, head coach at VCU Rams, is Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images/AFP
1. Mike Rhoades, Virginia Commonwealth
VCU began 2019/2020 ranked in the Top 25 but finished 18-13 and held a conference record below .500 at year’s end. Mike Rhoades (48) led the Rams to a 17-6 record in February. However, they lost seven of eight final games. It will be difficult for Rhoades to manage the 2020/21 season as five of his starters are gone from last year.
However, VCU has won at least 18 games in Rhoades’ first three years and if anyone is up to the task, it is him. Nah’Shon Hyland is the team’s only top-six scorer from last season that is returning this season and averaged 9.0 points and 43.4 percent shooting from three as a freshman. He was a four-star high school recruit and was selected to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team. He will lead the way, while KeShawn Curry, Vince Williams, Corey Douglas and Corey Douglas offer experience as upperclassmen, despite their playing time of less than 20 minutes each in 2019/20. Hason Ward, who is 6’0 tall and 7’4″ wide, shot 62.5 per cent from the field in his freshman season. He showed great potential.
Rhoades, a great recruiter, added the highest-rated recruiting class to the A10 this offseason. The four freshmen will give the next years a major talent boost. Even though this year should be considered a transition year it could very well burst onto mainstream.
VCU is not expected to win the A10 this year, but Rhoades’ group is talented and set up for success in the not-so-distant future. The Rams could be worth considering if you see sports betting sites offering significantly higher odds of winning the conference. This would allow you to make a huge payout for a team that may arrive sooner than expected.
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