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Andy Katz | NCAA.com Correspondent | September 28, 2018

College basketball: 5 under-the-radar teams to watch this season

Media days will begin in a few weeks. 

You will hear about the favorites. But there are some hidden gems who will end up pushing for their conference titles.

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I've got a few in mind in the A-10, the AAC, the Valley and the Mountain West.

Expect the following five to be in the mix, challenging in February for bids. 

Here are five under-the-radar teams to know this season:

1. George Mason: Otis Livingston II leads a Patriot team that has been building for this season. The Patriots have as much of a claim to challenge for the top of the A-10 as any other team.

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2. Saint Louis: The buzz in the A-10 is not just about Davidson, but that this could be the season for Travis Ford in Saint Louis. The roster is finally stabilized and Javon Bess could be a beast for them inside.

 
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3. Tulsa: The AAC hierarchy is high on UCF, Cincinnati and Memphis, but the trendy dark horse is Tulsa. DaQuan Jeffries is a name to remember for the Golden Hurricane. Frank Haith has pulled off a surprise bid before at Tulsa. Don’t be surprised if the Golden Hurricane challenge again.

4. Illinois State: Loyola-Chicago is getting the necessary attention for being the Valley favorite and a team that could make another NCAA tournament run. But the Redbirds should push the Ramblers in the Valley this season with the return of top scorers Milik Yarbrough, Phil Fayne and Keyshawn Evans. If the Redbirds can make a splash in the non-conference (see games in Grand Cayman, at UCF, BYU and San Diego State), then there should be plenty to discuss in late February.

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5. New Mexico: The Lobos have a host of transfers who will be familiar names to some, like JaQuan Lyle (Ohio State), Vance Jackson (UConn) and Zane Martin (Towson). Add those three to returnee Anthony Mathis and the Lobos should be a real threat in the MWC to finish in the top three under Paul Weir.