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Big Ten Basketball: Ranking the Conference's Coaches

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIJanuary 9, 2012

Big Ten Basketball: Ranking the Conference's Coaches

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    The Big Ten has some of the most successful basketball coaches in the nation. Most of them have different philosophies, but they're successful.

    The reason why the Big Ten is such a successful conference every year is mainly due to the coaches at each respective program. These coaches build a program off of character, tradition and honor. You very rarely hear about players in the Big Ten getting into off-court troubles.

    Their teams try hard and compete each and every game.

    Most, if not all of these coaches have had success at their current program, or those at which they previously coached. These coaches are championship-level leaders and teachers.

    These guys also are tenured coaches and here to stay for a while. I don't see any of my top eight leaving their respective programs in the next five to seven years, so that familiarity is huge.

    The next 12 slides are my rankings of these current coaches. Let the debates begin.

1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

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    Tom Izzo is the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten currently, and is the most successful. Izzo took over Michigan State and led them above and beyond what they previously were.

    Izzo has a 397-163 career coaching record, all of which have occurred in East Lansing.

    While he's been the leader on the sidelines, Michigan State won its first and only national championship in 2000. They also made a championship game appearance in 2009.

    To go along with the national championship game success, Michigan State has been to six Final Fours ('99, '00, '01, '05, '09, '10), seven Elite Eights ('99, '00, '01, '03, '05, '08, '09, '10), and nine Sweet 16's ('98, '99, '00, '01, '03, '05, '08, '09, '10) in their 16 straight NCAA Tournament appearances under coach Izzo.

    Michigan State has also won six Big Ten championships ('98-'01, '09, '10) under Izzo, and two Big Ten Tournament championships (99,00).

    He was the AP coach of the year in 1998, and the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1998 and 2009.

    With those credentials, Izzo will surely go down and one of the greatest to ever coach in the Big Ten.

2. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

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    Bo Ryan has turned Wisconsin from a mediocre Big Ten program into a powerhouse. Ryan's teams are build off of fundamentals and defense.

    Ryan has a 254-95 record in Madison, and a 637-198 career coaching record.

    Prior to joining Wisconsin as the head coach, Ryan won four Division III championships with UW-Platteville and went on from there to coach UW-Milwaukee.

    While coaching the Badgers, Wisconsin has made the tournament every year, made the Elite Eight twice in '04 and '05, and made three Sweet 16 appearances ('02, '03, '07, '08, '10, '11).

    The Badgers also won the Big Ten regular season championship three times ('02, '03 and '08), and won the Big Ten Tournament twice, in '04 and '08.

    Wisconsin has also won 31 games in a season twice in Ryan's tenure, and won at least 20 games in every season except two.

    The Badgers have never finished worse than fourth since Ryan was the lead man on the sidelines.

    To go along with all of those great stats, Ryan was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year twice, in 2002 and 2003.

3. Thad Matta, Ohio State

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    Thad Matta is another coach that has had success in every program which he has coached.

    Matta has a 306-90 career record in college basketball including a 204-59 record at Ohio State.

    Matta was the key behind Butler's start to greatness in taking them to the NCAA Tournament's second round in the 2000-01 season. After that, he went to take over Xavier and turned them back into a great program as well.

    He led Xavier to two straight second-round appearances in the Big Dance and one Elite Eight. From there, he left to turn around Ohio State.

    Matta has led Ohio State to an NIT championship in 2008, the National Championship Game in 2007, four Big Ten regular-season championships ('06, '07, '10, '11) and three Big Ten Tournament championships ('07, '10, '11).

    Matta has also led Ohio State to two straight Sweet 16 appearances and has had 20-win seasons in every year at Ohio State, with two 30-win seasons in 2006-07 and 2010-11.

    Matta won the Big Ten Coach of the Year award twice, in 2006 and 2010.

4. Matt Painter, Purdue

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    Matt Painter is relatively new to the college coaching scene, but he's been successful in almost every year.

    Painter took over Southern Illinois' program in 2003-04. After success with the Salukis, Purdue wanted to bring him back to his alma mater to be the heir apparent to the legendary Gene Keady.

    Painter sat one year behind Keady and took over in 2005.

    In his first season, Purdue has the usual first-year transitional troubles. The Boilermakers went 9-19 and failed to make any noise.

    From there, Painter has done a better job than just about any coach in how quick he's turned around the Boilers. Usually it takes coaches two to three years to get their thumbprint on a program, but it took Painter one.

    The Boilers have won 20 games every year since that 9-19 season and have a record of 150-67 under Painter.

    Counting his year at Southern Illinois, Painter has a career record of 175-72 and has won 20-plus games in six of his seven years of coaching.

    While at Purdue, the Boilers have been Big Ten tournament champs once in 2009, and regular-season champs once in 2010. The Boilers have made five straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

    Also, Painter has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year three times ('08, '10, '11).

5. Tom Crean, Indiana

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    Prior to this season, people would have had him ranked down in the 9-11 range as far as Big Ten coaches go, but with Indiana's success this season, he's definitely in the top five.

    Coach Crean is only 42-67 with Indiana including a 10-47 record in Big Ten play, but this year Indiana is already 14-1 and 3-1 in the Big 10. The Hoosiers have beaten the No. 1- and 2-ranked teams in the nation in a three-week span, and beat the No. 13-ranked team last week.

    It took him three years, but he's built something special down in Bloomington. That's pretty miraculous with what he was left with after Kelvin Sampson left this program in dismay.

    Indiana will have everyone but one main guy coming back next year, and the No. 1-ranked recruiting class coming in as well. The year after that, Indiana will add three more top recruits and will have three players 6'11" or bigger on the roster.

    I can honestly say Indiana is going to be a powerhouse for the next three to five years at least, and coach Crean may end up being No. 1 or 2 on this list after that.

6. Bruce Weber, Illinois

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    Bruce Weber has had a lot of success at Illinois. He's 205-88 overall with the Fighting Illini, and 308-142 overall as a head coach.

    Weber coached Southern Illinois from 1998-2003, left for Illinois in 2003 and has been there ever since.

    While at Illinois, the Illini have seven 20-win seasons, and the only year they didn't reach 20 wins was 2007-08 when Illinois had their only losing season under Weber.

    The Illini reached the championship game in 2005 and lost to North Carolina in St. Louis. Illinois has also won the Big Ten regular-season championship in 2004 and 2005. They were also the Big Ten tournament champs in 2005.

    In 2005, Weber was named the Naismith, AP and Big 10 Coach of the Year.

    If it wasn't for the talent Weber has recruited letting him down, the Illini would have more Final Fours in his tenure.

7. Tubby Smith, Minnesota

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    Tubby Smith is a championship-caliber coach. He won the 1998 NCAA Championship at Kentucky and has had success at every school he's coached.

    Prior to Kentucky, he coached Tulsa from 1991-1995 and Georgia from 1995-1997.

    Smith joined Minnesota in 2007 and has had success with the Golden Gophers. He's 92-55 since taking over in Minnesota, and has a career record of 479-199 as a head coach.

    While at Minnesota, the Golden Gophers have had three 20-win seasons and the only year they didn't make the tournament was last year, but they had a ton of injuries on that squad.

8. John Beilein, Michigan

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    John Beilein has his own style of coaching. It's different than anyone in the Big Ten, and it's the reason why Michigan has finally turned their program around for some success.

    Michigan is 79-69 under Beilein and have made two second-round appearances in the NCAA tournament.

    The Wolverines have also had two 20-win seasons under Beilein, and are well on their way to their third.

    Prior to Michigan, Beilein was at West Virginia. Beilein has a career record of 555-334 in college basketball as a head coach, including an 8-6 record in the NCAA Tournament.

9. Fran McCaffery, Iowa

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    Fran McCaffery is in his second year at Iowa and is turning the program around. He's 20-26 as the head coach in Iowa City, and should have this team back in the NCAA Tournament in a couple of years.

    Iowa went 11-20 in the first year under McCaffery and 4-14 in the Big Ten.

    Prior to his job at Iowa, McCaffery was at Lehigh from 1985-1988, UNC Greensboro from 1999-2005 and Siena from 2005-2010.

    He has a 271-203 career record as a head coach.

    His best seasons were at Siena, where he led them to three straight 20-win seasons, including two first-round upsets.

10. Bill Carmody, Northwestern

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    Bill Carmody is the second-longest tenured coach in the Big Ten. He's been with Northwestern since 2000 after previously coaching Princeton from 1996-2000.

    Carmody has turned Northwestern into a good program and one that isn't a pushover anymore.

    He's led the Wildcats to three straight NIT berths, including two straight 20-win seasons.

    While at Northwestern, the Wildcats have had a 167-177 career record, and this could be the year they make their first ever NCAA Tournament berth in school history.

    In his career, Carmody has a record of 258-202.

11. Doc Sadler, Nebraska

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    Doc Sadler is the one of the newest coaches to join the Big Ten, but it's not due to taking over a previously existing program. Sadler is the head coach of new Big Ten member Nebraska.

    Sadler has been with Nebraska since 2006 and has had some success with the Cornhuskers.

    As we all know, Nebraska is more known for football, so being the basketball coach is hard.

    While at Nebraska, the Cornhuskers have an 89-70 record. Sadler has led them to three NIT berths in his five seasons on campus.

    While at Lincoln, the Cornhuskers have only had one losing season under Sadler.

    Prior to joining Nebraska, Sadler coached at UTEP. He was there from 2004-2006 and has a career record of 136-86 as a head coach.

12. Pat Chambers, Penn State

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    Pat Chambers is the most inexperienced coach in the Big Ten right now. He's going to have his work cut out for him in Happy Valley, since Penn State lost their top two players from last year's NCAA Tournament team and are very young this year.

    So far, he's helped Penn State get a better start than anyone expected. With such a young and less talented team, the Nittany Lions are 9-8. I would have honestly thought they'd be a nine-win team tops this year.

    Chambers has only one other head coaching job experience and that's when he was Boston University's head coach from 2009-2011.

    He has a 51-35 career record as a head coach.

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