NCAA Bracket 2012: Power-Ranking Every Tournament Coach

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IMarch 13, 2012

NCAA Bracket 2012: Power-Ranking Every Tournament Coach

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    In the NBA, the players are the stars. In college basketball, the biggest star is ultimately the coach.

    Players come and go, but the coach is responsible for building a program, bringing success and hopefully a championship.

    As good as the players are, they need a coach that can properly assess the weaknesses of their opponents and get the most out of their own charges. They must be part-motivator, strategist, psychologist and lawyer.

    It is a difficult challenge but those who strike the balance are rewarded with basketball immortality.

    College basketball has some legendary figures standing on the sidelines for the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament. Some have already brought him the biggest championship of all and others look to be well on their way.

    Nevertheless, when deciding who to pick this week, any prognosticator would take the time to play the role of the coach in this one-and-done roller coaster ride known as the Big Dance.  

    Here are all 68 coaches and what they have to offer this March.

68. Sean Woods (Mississippi Valley State)

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    Sean Woods had one famous moment in the NCAA tournament; it just came as a player.

    In the ultimate sports bar trivia, something that sports broadcasters will bring up 50 times during the game, Woods was the one who hit the go-ahead shot in the Kentucky-Duke classic game that Christian Laettner erased from the history books with his legendary shot at the buzzer.

    Woods bounced around for awhile after his playing days were over. He ran a basketball camp and was an assistant coach before taking over Mississippi Valley State in 2008-09.

    At 21-12, the Delta Devils are dancing and looking at provide some late-game drama like Woods experienced as a member of the Kentucky Wildcats.

    Unfortunately, Mississippi Valley State historically has little experience to draw upon—far less than their First Four opponent, Western Kentucky.

    Woods can use his experiences to motivate his players and can game-plan fairly effectively.

    However, with just four seasons of head coaching experience, this situation may be above everyone's heads. 

67. Mark Schmidt (St. Bonaventure)

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    Overall Record: 159-165

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

    No one expected Mark Schmidt and the Bonnies to be dancing, and for good reason.

    In 11 seasons, Schmidt has a losing record overall at 159-165. Minus the dramatic run this season and Schmidt would still have zero 20-win seasons.

    That's not to say Schmidt is a bad coach. He has to deal with a tough A-10 conference and manages a few winning seasons, but three in 11 years does not instill a great deal of confidence.

    The Bonnies want to ride this wave of momentum, but it seems far more likely that things will soon crash and burn.

66. Tim Cluess (Iona)

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    Overall Record: 169-51

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

    Cluess has worked his way up the ranks, starting his coaching career at the community college level and now finding NBA talent with Iona.

    Cluess took over in 2010 and has done fairly well, surprising many when his team was selected over other teams like Drexel or Seton Hall this time around.

    Since this is his debut to the Big Dance, it is hard to say how he will fare. In his postseason last year, Cluess and company made it to the final of the College Invitational Tournament, only to become runners-up.

    Can he translate some of that knowledge and experience to the biggest stage in college basketball?

    It certainly cannot hurt. 

65. Ray McCallum (Detroit)

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    Overall Record: 218-203

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 3 (0-2)

    It seems odd to talk about Detroit basketball since the last time anyone really paid attention to the Titans, Dick Vitale was coaching them. In fact, the Horizon League champ has not made it to the Big Dance since 1999 and will have a tough road ahead of them this time around.

    McCallum has been one of those vagabond coaches that have to scare you in power rankings. At Ball State he had some decent success, but flopped badly when he moved to the Houston Cougars.

    After four years, McCallum took his 44-73 overall record with the Cougars and fell back to assistant ranks, where he worked alongside black-listed coach Kelvin Sampson.

    He did, however, bring his son to the program and he has helped boost the talent level significantly (though the team record remains a meager 17-16). His son's 59 points in three days at the Horizon League tournament cannot help but give the team hope. 

    Despite some strides with Detroit, his credentials, with zero tournament victories, leave much to be desired.

64. John Becker (Vermont)

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    Overall Record: 23-11

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

    John Becker probably thought he would never be in this situation again.

    As head coach of Gallaudet, Becker won six games in two years combined. The stigma of that kind of record can haunt any coach.

    However, Becker found a landing spot at Vermont as the director of basketball operations and worked his way up. So much so that he went from being interim coach to head coach in 10 days last season.

    He has not let the school down, becoming only the second coach in America East history to win the conference tournament in his first year as coach. 

    At 23-11, Vermont is dancing for the fifth time in nine years.

    Unfortunately for Becker and company, it has been a long time since the Catamounts pulled off the upset of the tournament by defeating Syracuse in overtime. Taylor Coppenrath is 31 years old now, and Vermont will need more than a little luck in their draw if they want to make some noise this time around.

    Give Becker the bounce back award, but a one-season blip is not enough yet to disguise some of his past disappointments.

63. Pat Knight (Lamar)

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    Overall Record: 73-72

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

    Being the son of a legendary coach is a tall task.

    Pat Knight wore out his welcome at Texas Tech, where he had one winning season in four years. However, he has found success at Lamar University in just his first year to make his NCAA tournament debut this week.

    Considering that Knight's one famous moment this season prior to winning the Southland Conference was when he ripped apart his team in front of the media, this championship is even more impressive.

    In fact, the Cardinals are 6-0 since the rant and used a 15-0 run in the first half and another run in the second half to take out McNeese State.

    Still, despite the name recognition and the first 20-win at Lamar since 1988, Knight has much to prove when it comes to coaching credentials.

    How will he fare in the NCAA tournament, and will his charges be able to handle the pressure?

    That will go a long way in assessing Knight's future as a coach in college basketball.

62. Wayne Tinkle (Montana)

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    Overall Record: 116-70

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 (0-1)

    The Montana Grizzlies have gotten used to Tinkle on the sidelines. Since 2001 he has been either a head coach or assistant, so he has helped build them into a fixture in the Big Sky Conference.

    Yet Montana, was only five games over .500 in his first three years combined. 

    Only now, after three straight 20-win seasons has Montana become the team that some are predicting could beat the slow-paced Wisconsin defense.

    While that is always possible in a low-possession game, Montana still has more bark than bite.

    He has a great deal to prove but fortunately for him, he now has the chance.

61. Jimmy Patsos (Loyola, Md.)

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    Overall Record: 119-120

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

    Patsos is a well-known name in Maryland. The long-time assistant coach with the Terrapins left that program after winning the NCAA championship to try and turn around a dormant program.

    Loyola was worse than being bad; they were irrelevant. They could not get people to show up or games broadcast on television.

    After his first season of six wins, Patsos has progressively made this team better and now have the Greyhounds at 24-8 and MAAC champions.

    While the entire state of Maryland rejoices in the underdog story, making the NCAA tournament is only one part of the equation.

    This is, after all, a coach who took joy holding Stephen Curry to zero points while still losing by 30 to Davidson. He also has proven he could be a black history professor with his lessons he has been imparting throughout the years, including the Black Panthers in the MAAC championship game.

    Making progress and learning history are good things but there is still a long road to go. One that, even Patsos concedes, will be bumpy come Thursday/Friday.

60. Anthony Evans (Norfolk State)

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    Overall Record: 77-81

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

    Evans has been with Norfolk State for most of his collegiate career and when he took over in 2007, he led the Spartans to their most successful stretch in school history.

    Now that may sound good, until you hear that in his first four years he only had one winning season at 16-15.

    Ouch.

    Well, the pieces finally seem to be falling in place for Evans and the Spartans. Norfolk State captured the MEAC title and have some impressive victories over Long Island and Drexel, as well as a two-point loss to Marquette.

    This is a dangerous team, one that deserves attention from their opponents.

    Still, Evans has a tall task in front of him for his tournament debut. Can he inspire his Spartans to a big upset?

    After five seasons, Norfolk State has come close to a big splash with close losses to Virginia, Marquette and other signature programs.

    Until they break through, Evans will still be near the bottom of these power rankings.

59. Jim Ferry (LIU-Brooklyn)

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    Overall Record: 254-167

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 (0-1)

    The Blackbirds are one of the few teams from New York to make it to the Big Dance this year.

    While teams like St. John's suffered, Ferry has brought his team to the tournament after building this program over the long haul.

    Being able to use the available recruiting pipeline, Long Island University is a team that has some talent and stability on the sidelines. However, they are still a long way from being able to make a run in the tournament.

    Do I think Ferry is a good coach? Sure, but compared to some of the others on this list, he will have to wait his turn.

58. Brett Reed (Lehigh)

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    Overall Record: 93-62

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 (0-1)

    Reed has been associated with Lehigh since 2002 as an assistant and finally took the reins in 2007. This March he took home his second Patriot League title in the past three years.

    In 2010, Reed led his team to the most wins in school history with the best scoring margin in the league.

    Their reward was a No. 16 seed and a date with the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks. Well, instead of rolling over, the Mountain Hawks kept it competitive in 90-74 contest.

    This time around Reed has improved upon many of those marks this year and is ready to avenge past disappointments.

    Reed is one of the best young coaches no one has heard about, as he has recruited well and formulated strong game plans.

    You would expect that from the only doctor in the NCAA tournament field. Dr. Brett Reed earned a doctorate from Wayne State University for instructional technology.

    He is a coach whose team excels on the court and in the classroom. Someone fans can be proud of and one that can surprise people come March.

57. Ed Biedenbach (UNC Asheville)

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    Overall Record: 240-242

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 3 (1-2)

    While Ed Biedenbach may not be the first name that comes to mind when someone lists coaches in the state of Carolina, he has to be one of the most loyal.

    Biedenbach has spent nearly 30 years as a coach or assistant coach in the state of North Carolina. While his stint at Davidson was unsuccessful, he has built the Bulldog program at UNC-Asheville since 1996.

    With his second straight Big South conference title, Biedenbach's Bulldogs are going to the tournament for the first time ever in consecutive seasons.

    When the Bulldogs last year had to play in one of the dreaded First Four games, they were able take down Arkansas-Little Rock before losing 71-54 to No. 1 seeded Pittsburgh.

    This time around the Bulldogs hope to build on last year's success, and they certainly have more experience all around to do just that. They also have a dangerous fast-paced style with sharpshooters that could scare anyone.

    On the other hand, they have a coach who has never advanced to play the weekend in the NCAA tournament.  He still has one tournament victory in 18 years coaching, including the NIT. Four times he has won a regular-season conference crown and failed to follow up and capture the tournament title.

    Sure, Biedenbach is building a program to reckon with; it will just take him and his players more time before they take it to the proverbial "next level."

56. Scott Nagy (South Dakota State)

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    Overall Record: 306-197

    When Scott Nagy took over at South Dakota State, he was 29 years old and the Jackrabbits were a Division II program looking to make a name for itself.

    Seventeen years later and the Jackrabbits have stolen headlines with their overtime victory against Western Illinois to capture their first-ever Summit title and NCAA tournament berth.

    Nagy has become a legend at South Dakota State. Since taking over in 1995, he made eight NCAA tournaments in the course of nine years, including a run to the Elite Eight and compiling a winning percentage of over 70 percent.

    That success moved the Jackrabbits toward Division I basketball, and a difficult transition was underway.

    Nagy did not bolt when he had the chance, nor did the administration dump him after all those years of success. He built the program into a contender and finally a champion.

    When you compile the overall record he has, winning just comes naturally. His pedigree and his accomplishments have made him a hero for this school.

    Now he has seen a dream come true that many may never have imagined possible. At 27-7, the Jackrabbits are on the loose.

    A team playing with nothing to lose is dangerous enough and a coach who is used to winning and postseason experience (albeit at a lower division) is an intriguing combination.

    Still, Nagy has yet to ever break through in the postseason, despite his regular-season accolades. Is this the time?

55. Ray Harper (Western Kentucky)

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    Overall Record: 10-7

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

    Is there a more bizarre story in college basketball this season than the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky.

    After Ken McDonald was fired in the middle of January after a 5-11 start, assistant coach Ray Harper was thrown into the fire. Although he did not fare much better at first than his predecessor, Harper and his charges shockingly knocked off North Texas for the Sun Belt title.

    As a result, even at 15-18, the Hilltoppers are one of the most unexpected teams to be dancing in the country.

    While Western Kentucky has been 3-2 in its past two trips to March Madness, none of that happened with Harper at the helm.

    Harper has impressive stints with Kentucky Wesleyan and the Oklahoma City Stars, with whom he won NCAA D-II and NAIA titles, respectively. He also pulled off the amazing ability to win four games in four days in the conference tournament. If only he could have done a tad bit better than 6-7 in the other 13 games.

    Still, this is a new stage to Harper and, with only one senior on the roster, to his players as well. 

    Until we have more to go on, Harper has to be placed pretty low on the NCAA totem pole.

54. Marvin Menzies (New Mexico State)

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    Overall Record: 102-67

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 (0-1)

    In five years, Menzies has helped silence some of his critics.

    When he took the job, Menzies had never coached at a four-year institution, but debuted with a 21-14 record.

    Since then it has been a roller coaster.

    Every other year has been either a 20-win season or a season right around .500.

    With a second tournament appearance in three years, Menzies is hoping to bring a bit more stability with name recognition and a foundation for success.

    Still, most of that will ride on just how long he can stay in the tournament this time around.

53. Tad Boyle (Colorado)

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    Overall Record: 95-87

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

    Tad Boyle has been around success most of his career.

    As a player, he was a senior captain with the Kansas Jayhawks when Danny Manning was a freshman and current Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was a sophomore. He played in two NCAA tournaments and bounced around as an assistant before Turgeon picked him up as an assistant at Wichita State.

    After that Boyle coached at Northern Colorado and turned things around after a 4-24 start.

    When Colorado needed a new coach, they found Boyle and although his numbers are not awe-inspiring, his Pac-12 title makes the Buffaloes happy they jumped ship to the West Coast.

    Boyle inspired a tough group of kids to play their best when it mattered most. However, he did it in probably the weakest of the power conferences. Will Colorado be able to build on that late-season momentum?

    If so it will require a major effort from a coach making his tournament debut. While he did navigate his team to the NIT semifinals in 2011, this is a whole different game.

    He will no longer be dealing with disappointed or disinterested clubs. He must take down the best in the country.

    Good luck!

52. Dave Rice (UNLV)

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    Overall Record: 25-7

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

    Dave Rice really does not give us a lot to go on when it comes to ranking coaches.

    Rice has been around UNLV most of his life, first as a player for the 1990 NCAA championship team and then as an assistant for over a decade.

    Still, we do not have much to go on since this is his first year as a head coach anywhere. Sure, the Runnin' Rebels picked up two impressive victories against Illinois and North Carolina this season, but will that early success translate in the Big Dance?

    Rice's biggest accomplishment so far is getting boxer Mike Tyson to give a motivational speech to his players?

    Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Just like Rice's potential as a postseason coach, no one knows the answer. So for now, we have to wait and see if he can build on his regular-season accolades.

51. Steve Prohm (Murray State)

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    Overall Record: 30-1

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1

    The media darling and Cinderella team is matched with an equally improbable coach.

    At 37 years old, first-year head coach Steve Prohm is the seventh-youngest coach in all of Division I basketball.

    His debut came after former coach Billy Kennedy bailed for a job at Texas A&M.

    So how does the young kid do? Only the best start in school history, helping the Racers peak at No. 7 in the country at one point that was also a school record.

    Murray State is a loaded team with depth, experience and size. That is a great combination for any coach to inherit. The Racers were 54-14 in the last two years with Kennedy, so Prohm has yet to prove how much of the success can be directly attributed to him versus his players.

    Inexperience can be difficult for any coach.

    Prohm was able to rally the troops in the Ohio Valley Conference championship game when it appeared they were going to be swept by Tennessee State. His victory over St. Mary's helped solidify their postseason prospects, and other young coaches like Shaka Smart and Brad Stephens prove that age is just a number.

    Still, with all the pressure on them in the OVC, the Racers were shaky. How will they fare when that spotlight gets only brighter? Will Prohm be able to outsmart some of the best coaches in the country?

    It's a tall task for anyone.

50. John Groce (Ohio)

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    Overall Record: 83-55

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 (1-1)

    Clearly, Ohio University and John Groce do not seem to care much about the regular season.

    In his four years, Groce has finished ninth, ninth, fifth and third in the MAC, respectively. Now while that does show improvement, it is somewhat shocking to discover that this is the second trip to the tournament in four years under Groce.

    For whatever reason, the Bobcats simply know how to turn it on when it matters most.

    Last time in, Ohio busted brackets everywhere by taking down Georgetown and making a name for itself.

    Do you think Michigan is worried? Maybe they should be: Ohio is not their favorite state.

49. Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State)

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    Overall Record: 38-25

    NCAA Appearances: 1

    Hoiberg is one of the better ex-players among the coaching ranks. The 10-year NBA veteran worked with the Minnesota Timberwolves before he came down to Ames, Iowa, to take on the Iowa State Cyclones.

    Hoiberg had a rather uneventful first season but put the program back on the map when his team defeated the mighty Kansas Jayhawks, 72-64, before an ESPN national audience. A regular-season victory over Baylor helped give the Cyclones the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament.

    With zero experience in the Big Dance, it is hard to know just how Hoiberg will do.

    In five of the nine rematches Hoiberg's team played against Big 12 opponents, Iowa State improved. Either they won by more or they lost by fewer in the second go-around. In two of those exceptions, the margins of victory were so big that it was hard to repeat despite the fact that they swept the series.

    That shows an ability to scout and regroup, but how will he do against a brand new opponent?

    Odds are Hoiberg will need more time and experience to prepare his team for that challenge.

48. Gregg Marshall (Wichita State)

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    Overall Record: 303-142

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8 (1-7)

    Gregg Marshall spent several years making the Winthrop Eagles a team of respectability. As the king of the Big South program, Winthrop went 194-83 in his nine seasons and made the NCAA tournament seven times.

    Marshall had to deal with some NIT bids with the Shockers but finally broke through this season with a 27-4 record. Wichita State was ranked for the first time since 2006 in Mark Turgeon's final season with the program.

    It was not the easiest road back, but Marshall has plenty of experience in the Big Dance for a mid-major coach. While his overall record is certainly not good, he has been precariously close to breaking through over the years.

    In 2005, Winthrop led Gonzaga at the half before losing by 10.

    One of the closest calls came in 2006 when Winthrop led virtually the entire game over Tennessee until Chris Lofton shot with 2.9 seconds left sank their hopes with a 63-61 loss. 

    The next season, Winthrop got its breakthrough victory over Notre Dame before falling in the second round to Oregon, which eventually went on to the Elite Eight.

    Last season with the Shockers, Marshall and his team won the NIT. Using that experience and that talent, Marshall might finally have his own "Butler" or "VCU" moment with the Missouri Valley stalwart.

    It certainly seems like it should be time.

47. Greg McDermott (Creighton)

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    Overall Record: 328-216

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (0-3)

    McDermott has bounced around in 16 seasons as a head coach.

    He made a name at Northern Iowa, where he made the NCAA tournament three straight seasons and earned him a promotion to the Big 12 with Iowa State.

    However, on the bigger stage, McDermott underwhelmed with an overall record of 59-68 in four seasons.

    After zero winning seasons, McDermott read the tea leaves and bolted for Creighton.

    Fortunately for him, the Bluejays were a better situation to walk into. They won the CBI and put the pieces together for an NCAA tournament appearance.

    Ultimately, McDermott may just be made for the Missouri Valley with five 20-win seasons between Iowa State and Creighton.

    Still, with zero NCAA tournament wins in 10 D-I seasons, McDermott has more question marks than answers.

46. Rick Byrd (Belmont)

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    Overall Record: 545-275

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 5 (0-4)

    No one is sleeping on Belmont this time around.

    The Bruins nearly shocked the basketball world when they took the Duke Blue Devils down to the wire in the season opener.

    Rick Byrd is Belmont basketball, having been with the program since 1986. He is one of just 11 coaches with 600 career victories and has helped make the Bruins a dangerous team to play with.

    With seven 20-win seasons in the past nine years, Byrd and his players are used to success. He builds experience and uses his system to make teams uncomfortable.

    As a result, the Bruins are close to breaking through.

    In 2008, Belmont was one basket away from becoming the fifth No. 15 seed to defeat a No. 2 seed. All the other teams they lost to in the past three attempts made it to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond.

    Very few coaches could do what Byrd has done at Belmont, and even if the Bruins cannot take down Georgetown this week, the Hoyas no better than to take them lightly as a No. 14 seed.

45. Tommy Amaker (Harvard)

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    Overall Record: 268-193

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 (2-1; 1 Sweet 16)

    It takes a smart guy to succeed in the Ivy League.

    Amaker grew up under the watchful eye of Coach K as an assistant for nearly a decade.

    When he finally got his chance to be a head coach, Amaker brought about the second-best recruiting class in the country in 2000 to Seton Hall but had one NCAA tournament to show for it in four years.

    Despite three 20-win seasons in his final four years at Michigan, Amaker was never able to get to the tourney with the boys of Ann Arbor.

    Only once was he able to post a winning record in the Big Ten.

    Amaker finally seems to have found his home with Harvard. Taking over a team that had fallen hard, Amaker won only eight games his first year but has progressively moved the team forward each year.

    This season, Harvard beat a ranked team for only the second time in school history and made the Top 25 for the first time ever.

    With a strong showing in the Ivy League, Harvard is back for the first time since 1946 and may be on its way to becoming the new pick of the litter.

    Amaker knows how to recruit. He has never had a problem bringing in talent; what he has done with it has left so many confused.

    It took awhile but Amaker may well be on his way to showing that he deserves much more than the "Gentlemen's C."

44. Dan Monson (Long Beach State)

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    Overall Record: 230-191

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 3 (3-2; 1 Sweet 16)

    Dan Monson has had a long track record as a college basketball coach.

    Unfortunately for him, it has also been pretty mediocre.

    With only one 20-win season at Minnesota but a splashy Elite Eight appearance with Gonzaga, Monson has slowly built a strong Long Beach State program. A team, by the way, from the West Coast actually playing near the West Coast in this tournament.

    People probably questioned the hire after a 38-56 start but now the Gauchos are dancing. With an astonishing 29-3 conference record the past two seasons, Monson may finally be able to shed the average label.

    However to do that, he must improve upon a tournament record that includes zero victories since that historic run in 1999.

43. Larry Eustachy (Southern Mississippi)

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    Overall Record: 400-255

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (3-3; 1 Sweet 16)

    Oh, how the times have changed.

    Most college basketball fans remember Larry Eustachy when he was with the Iowa State Cyclones and the scandal that brought him down.

    After spending some time in a rehab clinic for alcoholism, Eustachy was able to find work at Southern Mississippi, where he has quietly built the program up.

    With three straight 20-win seasons, the Golden Eagles broke through and made the NCAA tournament for just the third time in school history.

    As a No. 9 seed, this is Southern Mississippi's best seeding and it has the potential to win their first postseason game ever.

    However, outside of Eustachy's historic run to the Elite Eight in 2000 that earned him Coach of the Year honors, Eustachy has not won a postseason game any other season.

    In fact, in his first seven years with the school, all Eustachy could show for his effort was a first-round loss in the College Basketball Invitational.

    Give the man progress for building a former doormat basketball program but taking the team to the next level is not going to be easy.

    Then again, Eustachy knows about dealing with difficulties.

42. Steve Alford (New Mexico)

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    Overall Record: 429-228

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 6 (4-5; 1 Sweet 16)

    Steve Alford has helped make the Lobos a dangerous team in 2012.

    The former Iowa coach helped the Hawkeyes make the postseason six straight years and yet he could only manage one NCAA tournament win in eight seasons.

    When Alford resigned, he knew he probably had one last chance to prove his head coaching chops. 

    Well, at 125-45, New Mexico is thriving in the Mountain West Conference. Three times already the Lobos have finished at the top or tied; at Iowa he mustered double-digit conference wins only once.

    Alford broke through in 2010 with a first-round win, but he has had trouble piecing together success.

    Until Alford can sustain tournament runs and not fall to the NIT, his rating will suffer.

41. Tim Miles (Colorado State)

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    Overall Record: 285-226

    NCAA Tournament Appearance: 1

    Tim Miles has had a long road toward this moment. For 12 seasons, Miles worked his way up the D-II ranks and brought North Dakota State up to Division I. In return he knocked off Wisconsin and Marquette in huge upsets early on. Those ranked upsets landed him the Colorado State job.

    His reward? Two scholarship players from the season before.

    Miles had to scrap just to field a team and suffered through a painful season when the Rams did not win a single conference game.

    Colorado State continued to build its way up the Mountain West and culminated with big victories over San Diego State, New Mexico and UNLV. Three big victories over ranked teams have the Rams believing that this year may be their year.

    Miles has shown his ability to win the big game, particularly on the road.

    This seems like the stars may be aligned for a big splash.

    Still, until it happens, a good feeling is more a pipe dream than reality. 

40. Chris Mack (Xavier)

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    Overall Record: 70-28

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 3 (2-2; 1 Sweet 16)

    We all know that Xavier has been one of the most successful mid-majors in recent years.

    Head coach Sean Miller built a winning tradition that helped land him the job at Arizona following the retirement of Lute Olsen.

    At Xavier, he was replaced by former assistant Chris Mack, who has had to deal with keeping the momentum of the Musketeer program heading in the right direction.

    It has not been easy. Mack pulled in a strong recruiting class to start, but slowly the team has lost some of that luster in the past few years.

    Xavier has made the tournament all three years under Mack but this team needed a strong showing in the conference tourney to earn it.

    The Musketeers were bullied by St. Bonaventure—something Xavier fans are not used to seeing.

    Can they build on Mack's initial success or are they beginning to lose ground to some of the other A-10 powers?

39. Mick Cronin (Cincinnati)

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    Overall Record: 173-105

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (1-3)

    Entering the Big East tournament, some wondered if Cincinnati might be flirting with the bubble.

    They ended the week in the championship game and, even with a loss, are riding some momentum in March.

    Cronin has Big East connections, being an assistant for both Bob Huggins and Rick Pitino before taking over for the Murray State Racers. After two tournament appearances, Cronin was tasked with trying to keep the Bearcats competitive in the Big East gauntlet.

    Cronin got his team into the NCAAs last season before falling to Big East foe and eventual national champion Connecticut in the third round.

    While his overall track record is still thin, Cronin has kept Cincinnati in the national discussion. Now what he needs is a good run to make the Bearcats roar once more.

    Until that happens, they risk being the "also-ran" of the Big East.

38. Mike Brey (Notre Dame)

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    Overall Record: 357-180

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 10 (5-9; 1 Sweet 16)

    If you look up underperforming in the dictionary, you would probably find a picture of Mike Brey.

    Now I have nothing against Brey; he has done an adequate job in the Big East and consistently getting his team in the Big Dance while keeping his talent level high.

    However, with those accomplishments, Brey should have more than one Sweet 16 in 17 seasons of coaching.

    For whatever the reason, Notre Dame has vastly underachieved in the NCAA tournament. Last year the Irish were a No. 2 seed and lost by 14 to a No. 10 seed.

    The year before they lost to 11th-seeded Old Dominion in the first round.

    Since 2003, Brey has had four trips to the NCAA tournament and only once did he lose to a better-seeded team. It was when No. 4 Washington State beat his No. 5 Irish by 20.

    Until Brey can break out of his pattern of mediocrity, people cannot trust him.

37. Josh Pastner (Memphis)

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    Overall Record: 75-28

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 (0-1)

    Pastner was given the almost impossible task of trying to replace John Calipari at Memphis.

    As one of the youngest coaches in college basketball, Pastner had to deal with high expectations, transfers and everything else as a new coach.

    He has responded with three solid seasons of Conference USA domination. Pastner is 36-12 in the conference and has taken home the conference title for two years running.

    His strong recruiting has kept the Tigers competitive on a national scale, but they have failed to come through in the postseason.

    Last year, Memphis ran into a buzzsaw named Arizona and lost by two points in their first game of the tournament.

    Memphis hopes for better luck this time around and certainly have the talent to do it. 

    However, Pastner still has a great deal to learn and although his work ethic is an asset, his limited experience could prove to be the difference in the days to come.

36. Scott Drew (Baylor)

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    Overall Record: 168-129

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 3 (3-2; 1 Sweet 16)

    Scott Drew knew he was walking into trouble.

    The Baylor program was rocked by scandal when he first arrived on campus.

    A player's death, a postseason ban and even a non-conference game ban made Baylor seem like a toxic waste site to the top recruits in the country.

    Drew took some major lumps, waiting for the bans to fade and building a power in the Big 12.

    In four years, Drew won 12 games in the Big 12.

    Well, things have changed. With an influx of talent, the Baylor Bears have returned to basketball prominence with three NCAA tournaments in the past five years. 

    Baylor weaved through an impressive run to the Elite Eight in 2010, though critics will point out the best seed it defeated was a No. 10 seed along the way.

    The Bears have done better in big games this season but still went 0-5 against Missouri and Kansas this season. With some luck though, they may finally be ready to move forward even more in 2012.

35. Frank Haith (Missouri)

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    Overall Record: 155-105

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 (1-1)

    Few people had faith in Frank Haith when he came to coach the Missouri Tigers.

    Sure, people knew from his time at the University of Miami, but in seven seasons the Hurricanes had gone to one NCAA tournament.

    In fact, they had a paltry 43-69 ACC record with zero winning seasons.

    So to take over a team made for NCAA glory seemed a bit odd but Haith has taken Missouri to heights few would have imagined.

    At 30-4, the Tigers own their second conference tourney title in the past four years and a No. 2 seed in the tournament.

    While they are a trendy pick to make some noise, all of this is unfamiliar ground for Haith.

    Has he succeeded so far at Missouri? Of course, but so did his predecessor. Can a man with one NCAA tournament victory to his credit get Mizzou to the first Final Four in school history?

34. Fran Dunphy (Temple)

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    Overall Record: 443-226

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 14 (2-13)

    What do you do with a guy like Fran Dunphy?

    Dunphy has the almost impossible task of trying to replace the legendary John Chaney.

    Dunphy has been a small school guy for his entire career, building the Penn Quakers into an Ivy League powerhouse and then keeping Temple in the mix for the Atlantic 10 title.

    In 17 seasons with Penn, the Quakers finished first or tied for first 10 times.

    With Temple, the Owls have finished in the top two of the conference rankings five straight years.

    With this regular-season dominance, Temple simply cannot seem to get over the proverbial hump.

    Dunphy finally got the Owls through the first round when they defeated Penn State by two last season.

    The problem is that Dunphy last won a tournament game in 1994.

    Dunphy has built a system perfect for a marathon. They can falter every now and then but the system of physical, tough play help makes them a force in conference.

    The postseason sprint has hurt them though and until Dunphy can make a real run, his overall legend is a bit diminished.

33. Stan Heath (South Florida)

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    Overall Record: 180-164

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (3-3; 1 Sweet 16)

    Every coach wants to make a splash like Stan Heath did with the Kent State Golden Flashes.

    In his first season as a head coach, Heath led his team to an Elite Eight and finished the season 30-6.

    The buzz instantly landed him a job in the SEC with the Arkansas Razorbacks, whom he slowly built back up. After winning just 21 games combined his first two seasons, Arkansas reeled off consecutive 20-win seasons at the end of his time.

    Despite two straight NCAA tournament appearances, lack of progress and ticket sales resulted in Heath being fired, but he quickly found a job with the South Florida Bulls.

    Competing in the Big East is no easy task, but the Bulls put together a 12-6 conference record and their third tournament bid in school history.

    Heath is an interesting character because he does have a track record for progress. Yet, his tournament record peaked in just his first year. 

    Since that run he has not won a single game in the tourney and will have to play in to just make some noise this time around.

    While he has great potential, Heath may be destined for good and not great.

32. Anthony Grant (Alabama)

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    Overall Record: 139-63

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 3 (1-2)

    One of the rising stars in the coaching ranks has to be Anthony Grant. Before Shaka Smart took the VCU Rams to the Final Four, Grant was helping led the Colonial Athletic Association stalwart to a program-defining victory over Duke in the opening round of the 2007 NCAA tournament.

    The former Florida assistant coach helped build the foundation that Smart was able to pull together toward an amazing run. After three 20-win seasons and three straight CAA regular-season titles, Grant returned to Alabama and the SEC.

    The Crimson Tide turned things around quickly. Last year they came tantalizingly close to winning the NIT, and this year they made the Big Dance despite suspending some of their top players in the middle of the season.

    Grant has accumulated a tremendous amount of talent at Alabama, and he appears to have the program in place for a big run in the years to come. 

    However, until Grant pulls off more than one victory in the tournament, his power ranking will suffer.

31. Mark Gottfried (NC State)

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    Overall Record: 299-161

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8 (5-7; 1 Sweet 16)

    North Carolina State had a rough search when it looked for a new basketball coach.

    Sidney Lowe had failed to produce in the regular season, and athletic director Debbie Yow failed to land some of the primary targets.

    They settled on Mark Gottfried, a good coach that helped Alabama make five straight tournament appearances at one point. Gottfried resigned in the middle of the 2009 season after a key player departure and a team on the verge of missing the Big Dance for the third straight year.

    Still, despite the bumps, Gottfried did something coach Lowe could not do and make the most of the Wolfpack front line.

    A good record for Gottfried deserves mention, but his brash personality can rub opponents, recruits and even fans the wrong way.

    Will he be able to keep his team focused in both the short and long term?

30. Randy Bennett (St. Mary's)

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    Overall Record: 233-116

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (2-3; 1 Sweet 16)

    Randy Bennett is one of the best coaches people are not talking about.

    Being the "other team" in the West Coast Conference is not an easy thing to deal with. For years it used to be "Gonzaga and everyone else," but Saint Mary's has changed that culture.

    After finishing second for six out of seven years, Saint Mary's has flipped the script. Finally they took home the WCC title against Gonzaga and have built a reputation as the new giant-killer.

    Taking the headlines from the Bulldogs is one thing; making a name in the postseason is even more impressive.

    Consider this, Saint Mary's has been to the Sweet 16 more recently than Gonzaga.

    Last season, the Gaels were hosed out of the tournament in the opinion of many.

    This time around they did not leave things up to chance, and expect Bennett to make the committee show them what a mistake they made last season.

    With the experience and confidence Bennett has built up in these young people, expect greatness in 2012.

29. Bob McKillop (Davidson)

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    Overall Record: 388-248

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 6 (3-5; 1 Sweet 16)

    Bob McKillop is a like fine wine; he only gets better with age.

    As a nine-time regular-season champion of the Southern Conference, Davidson has become a fixture in college basketball.

    Sure, most people associate the school with Stephen Curry and their dramatic Elite Eight run in 2008. However, McKillop has gotten his Wildcats in the Big Dance for the fourth time in seven years.

    With 388 career victories and only two losing seasons in 20 years with Davidson, his culture of success makes his team one to look out for this week.

    Still, will he ever be able to win a game in the tourney again without Curry? 

28. Tony Bennett (Virginia)

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    Overall Record: 122-73

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 3 (3-2; 1 Sweet 16)

    Being the son of a coach, people might have expected things to be handed to coach Tony Bennett.

    After all, he played for his father Dick. Then he was an assistant for his father and took over Washington State when he retired.

    Yet, the younger Bennett is making a mark all on his own following the principles of the "Pack-Line Defense." Perhaps no one maximizes talent more than this young man.

    First he took the Cougars to the best two-year stretch since the 1940s.

    Then he took over a Virginia program that had won 10 games the season before he arrived. It took some time to accumulate talent but this year he led the Cavaliers to the most regular-season wins since the Ralph Sampson era.

    Oh yeah, he also had to do it with injuries, transfers and seven losses by three points or fewer.

    Even with seven scholarship players left on the roster (one with a broken hand), Virginia came tantalizingly close to beating both North Carolina and Florida State in successive games.

    The Cavaliers' defense is second in the country in points allowed and despite the lack of depth, they can be dangerous in this tournament.

27. Dave Rose (BYU)

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    Overall Record: 181-51

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 6 (3-5; 1 Sweet 16)

    After finishing in the top two of the Mountain West Conference for six straight seasons, everyone expected BYU to be the new sheriff in town in the West Coast Conference.

    However, the transition was not quite as smooth for Dave Rose and company.

    Still, the Cougars have been pouncing on competition.

    With six straight appearances, Rose got BYU its first victory in the tournament in 17 years back in 2010. He backed it up with a Sweet 16 berth the following season.

    While BYU stumbled into this year's tournament, it has a great coach who is building a dangerous program. Never has Rose won fewer than 20 games in seven seasons, and six straight 25-win seasons provide a blueprint for postseason glory.

26. Buzz Williams (Marquette)

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    Overall Record: 107-58

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (3-3; 1 Sweet 16)

    Buzz Williams is one kooky guy.

    He sweats more than his players, he dances on opposing courts when he hears "Country Roads" playing, and he flops around like a Duke defensive player.

    Perhaps it is that eccentric behavior that makes people forgot about him when ranking coaches. Williams took over Marquette and had to deal with the difficult Big East marathon.

    Instead he has put together four NCAA tournament appearances and an impressive Sweet 16 bid despite finishing ninth in the conference last season.

    Williams has a bevy of talent and the experience to finally help push them through to a big run in 2012. Despite the difficult road the selection committee gave them, you can expect that Williams is one of the few coaches that can deal with that pressure.

25. Frank Martin (Kansas State)

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    Overall Record: 114-51

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 4 (5-3; 1 Sweet 16)

    Frank Martin may look like he is about to explode at any second, but he finds ways to produce.

    In five years, the Wildcats have four tournament appearances, and in the previous three they were able to win at least one game.

    This year, many forgot about Kansas State behind the likes of Baylor, Missouri and Kansas, but Martin's squad made some noise of its own with back-to-back victories at Baylor and at Missouri.

    With five straight seasons of at least 21 wins, Martin is ready to take the next step and get his team deeper into the tournament.

    The Wildcats' size and skill make them a dangerous matchup, and his experience makes
    him a scary coach.

    Then again he would probably be a scary coach even if he never won another game.

24. Matt Painter (Purdue)

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    Overall Record: 184-81

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8 (7-7, 2 Sweet Sixteens)

    Matt Painter had a tough job trying to replace the legendary Gene Keady with the Boilermakers.

    His reward has been a slue of injuries over the years, despite constantly bringing in talent Purdue seems to get hurt at the wrong time of year.

    We all know about the trials and tribulations of Robbie Hummel whose injuries kept Purdue from truly reaching its full potential the past few years.

    Yet the Boilermakers and Painter have not made excuses, six straight 20-win seasons and counting. Even with one of the most inexperienced teams around, Purdue rebounded in the toughest conference in America late in the season to earn a spot in the Big Dance.

    Painter's next step will be to continue to make a dent in the postseason. This program should be ready for a Final Four run and, while this year may not be the time, Painter is certainly the man to do it.

23. Tom Crean (Indiana)

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    Overall Record: 241-169

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 6 (5-5; 1 Sweet 16, 1 Final Four)

    Tom Crean had to seem like a crazy person. To leave the ease of Marquette for a team in the midst of a scandal like Indiana took a great deal of perseverance.

    Yes, Indiana is one of the premiere basketball institutions, but no one seemed to be dealing well with having to live up to the expectations set forth by the General Bobby Knight.

    Crean was not much better in the beginning. In fact those were some of the worse seasons in program history.

    Yet after winning only 28 games combined in his first three years, Crean has the Hoosiers at 25-8 and are just one of two teams to claim a victory over the Kentucky Wildcats this season.

    Crean has an impressive record of getting to the tournament but his results are mixed. Outside of the year he had Dwyane Wade make an amazing Final Four run, Crean has not produced much excitement.

    Crean only has one other NCAA tournament victory to his credit and never finished higher than fourth in either of the power conferences he has coached in.

    While the regular season has produced defining victories, Crean will be judged until he can do it in the postseason.

22. Leonard Hamilton (Florida State)

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    Overall Record: 396-336

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 7 (5-6; 2 Sweet 16s)

    Give coach Leonard Hamilton credit. It is hard enough trying to find success on the hardwood at a football school.

    It is even more difficult when you have to compete with the blue bloods of North Carolina and Duke. Their dominance of the ACC is almost laughable.

    Yet Hamilton not only captured the first conference tournament crown in school history, he beat both the Blue Devils and Tar Heels to do it. In fact, he did it on consecutive days.

    Florida State has grown more and more under Hamilton, establishing itself at the highest tier of the ACC power pyramid.

    Hamilton has changed the culture and expectations, and he looks to be on the verge of a big season.

    Last year's run was cut short by the Cinderella VCU Rams, whose last-second stop gave the Seminoles a loss in the Sweet 16. It was the only game VCU played in the first five where their power conference opponent gave them a run for their money.

    That was as a No. 10 seed; as a No. 3 seed, expect Florida State to be one of the more dangerous teams around. The Seminoles play defense, have cold-blooded shooters and an experienced center who can push around any competition.

    Not to mention they were 4-1 against the royal teams of Carolina this season.

    That is a recipe for success.

21. John Beilein (Michigan)

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    Overall Record: 380-294

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 7 (8-6; 2 Sweet 16s)

    How can you not like John Beilein?

    Wherever the man has gone, he just finds a way to win.

    Starting at a community college, Beilein has sent four different teams to the NCAA tournament.

    He helped build the Richmond Spiders to the point that they could leave the Colonial Athletic Association and join the Atlantic 10.

    Then he took West Virginia to an Elite Eight with guys named Pittsnogle. What more could you ask for?

    Now at Michigan he is doing what Tommy Amaker could not: win. With three appearances in the last four years, Beilein is proving that he can win just about anywhere.

    While he does not have the hardware to put him up at the elite level, Beilein has proven to be a Hall of Famer when his career ends. 

20. Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt)

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    Overall Record: 383-221

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8 (5-7; 2 Sweet 16s)

    There is a reason why Vanderbilt is everyone's darling.

    After capturing the SEC and defeating the Kentucky Wildcats, the Commodores have put a target on their backs heading into March. They are no longer the hunter, but the hunted.

    Fortunately for them, that is what Stallings wanted all along.

    After two Sweet 16 runs in 2004 and 2007, Vanderbilt seems poised to do it once more.

    Stallings has created consistency with five tournament appearances and five finishes in the top three of the SEC standings in the last six years.

    Now Stallings wants to take his team the next level and may have done this with his conference tournament run.

    How will they fare with these new expectations?

19. Mark Few (Gonzaga)

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    Overall Record: 342-89

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 13 (13-12; 4 Sweet 16s)

    Death, taxes and Gonzaga basketball.

    These are three constants in sports.

    Gonzaga used to be a small program in Spokane, Washington, that no one had ever heard of. The Bulldogs were the original mid-major Cinderella when they knocked out No. 2 seed St. John's in the second round of the 2000 NCAA tournament to everyone's chagrin.

    Even after everyone expected the Bulldogs to just fade away back into obscurity, they kept coming back and forced the nation to take them seriously.

    Few and his Bulldogs rewrote the book of expectations for a mid-major program. Their success paved the way for other schools like George Mason, Butler and VCU to shock the basketball world.

    In fact, Gonzaga reached a No. 3 seed in 2006 after a 27-3 record.

    However, despite all of this and the fact that Few won 81 games in his first three years. Gonzaga has been unable to break through.

    All the other mid-majors I mentioned have something the Bulldogs do not: a Final Four.

    Gonzaga has never gone past the Sweet 16, losing to North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Purdue over the years.

    While none of those are bad losses, the Bulldogs simply cannot translate their regular-season dominance into big victories in March.

    Until Few can finally take his team to the next level, his ranking will suffer. 

18. John Thompson III (Georgetown)

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    Overall Record: 246-120

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8 (7-7; 2 Sweet 16s, 1 Final Four)

    With a name like John Thompson, success at Georgetown should come as a given.

    Replacing John Thompson II was no easy task. In the six years after the legendary coach quit midseason, the Hoyas had one NCAA tournament appearance.

    Under his son, Georgetown has found its groove once more with six appearances in the past seven years.

    Thompson took the Ivy League swagger of the Princeton offense and got big, physical players to come in and commit to it. The dividends paid off early when Georgetown defeated No. 1 ranked Duke in his second season.

    It was the team's first victory over the top-ranked team in 21 years.

    Thompson has restored the luster to Georgetown and with a Final Four appearance under his belt, he has proven he not only can handle living in his father's shadow but can make a name for himself.

    Nevertheless, Georgetown is shooting for even more under Thompson. In the past four seasons, Georgetown has been unable to get out of the first weekend.

    Failing to live up to expectations in the postseason is simply not an option for a Thompson. It's something he will try to rectify this time around.

17. Bo Ryan (Wisconsin)

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    Overall Record: 296-126

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 11 (14-10; 4 Sweet 16s)

    Wisconsin can be a boring team to watch, but they win.

    The Badgers, led by Bo Ryan, have been a model of consistency.

    Their hard-nosed defense and selfless work ethic make every team scared to take on the boys from Madison.

    In fact, Wisconsin has posted an awe-inspiring home record. It simply has not translated that regular-season success into postseason glory.

    Ryan's team seems to be a recipe for success with limiting turnovers, playing physical and rebounding. He even took over a team that had just gone to the Final Four under "Mr. Pack Line Defense," Dick Bennett.

    Yet, Ryan still waits to reach the Final Four. He has not advanced past the Sweet 16 since 2002.

    Even though his winning percentage with the Badgers is second only to North Carolina's Roy Williams, until he takes his team to the final weekend, Ryan still has work left to do.

16. Shaka Smart (VCU)

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    Overall Record: 83-27

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 (5-1; 1 Sweet 16, 1 Final Four)

    As the young kids say, Smart has "swag."

    Last season, the Rams rode their swagger and media lambasting all the way to the Final Four. On that road they took out teams from the ACC, Pac-12, Big 12, Big East and Big Ten.

    Smart looked a bit dumb to people when he ignored offers from big-time programs to stay at a school in the Colonial Athletic Association. Well, look who is laughing now.

    With only one returning starter, Smart has willed his team to the Big Dance once more and are definitely the team no one wants to see in their region.

    Adopting the daring, borderline-foolish acronym of ACL (Aggressive, Confident, Loose), Virginia Commonwealth unleashes "havoc" on their opponents.

    Smart made headlines in Virginia earlier this year when he claimed the CAA has had the best teams in the Commonwealth over the past few years. This call out of Virginia and Virginia Tech is not only fair, but bold.

    His confidence rubs off on his players, and their effort level is one of the best in the country. Everybody respects what Smart has done in a limited time, and hundreds of programs would dump their coach in a second to give this guy a chance.

    His stock will undoubtedly soar even more in the years to come.

15. Rick Majerus (St. Louis)

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    Overall Record: 512-214

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 12 (18-11; 4 Sweet 16s, 1 Final Four)

    Rick Majerus is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003.

    We all remember Majerus and the run he had at Utah. In 12 full seasons as coach, Majerus made 10 trips to the NCAA tournament and only once lost in the first round.

    Health reasons sidelined him for awhile and when he returned to coaching, he took over a Saint Louis team that had not been to the tournament since 2000.

    Majerus had some trouble bringing the Billikens to prominence.

    In his first four years he finished ninth in the A-10 twice and 10th another.

    However, a strong regular season helped Saint Louis earn an at-large bid and propel Majerus back into the national discourse.

    While his numbers speak for themselves, his teams have not advanced past the second round since finishing as the championship runner-up in 1998.

    Does he still have what it takes to propel a team toward greatness?

14. Mike Montgomery (California)

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    Overall Record: 635-290

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 15 (17-14; 3 Sweet 16s, 1 Final Four)

    On the West Coast, in the abysmal Pac-12, it is easy to forget about Mike Montgomery.

    The former Stanford coach has built quite the career for himself in the state of California. With over 600 victories and 15 tournament appearances, Montgomery is one of the more successful coaches of his era.

    He famously led the Stanford Cardinal to a 30-1 record before losing in the second round of the 2004 NCAA tournament to everyone's shock.

    Despite the talent he has brought in and the three 30-win seasons near the end of his time with the Cardinal, he simply could not translate that success into a championship.

    As for Cal, Montgomery has made the most of a down conference with three appearances in four years. While he has yet to escape the first weekend, the Golden Bears have a savvy coach and plenty of experience to make some noise.

    It would be the first time we heard from him in awhile. 

13. Rick Barnes (Texas)

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    Overall Record: 533-262

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 20 (19-19; 5 Sweet 16s, 1 Final Four)

    Rick Barnes knows a thing or two about the Big Dance, especially at Texas.

    While he had Longhorns fans on the edge of their seats, they did just enough to make Barnes a perfect 14 of 14 for getting Texas into the NCAA tournament.

    In fact, with 17 straight appearances for Barnes, people should have known better than to discount the Longhorns.

    At Clemson, Barnes took a former ACC doormat and made them competitive. He took that same fire and ability out West and has taken on Kansas and the other Big 12 powers for conference glory.

    Entering this season, only three times has Texas not finished in the top three of the Big 12 standings with Barnes on the sideline.

    However, despite two Elite Eights and one Final Four at Texas, the Longhorns have underperformed lately.

    They have not gotten out of the first weekend since 2008 and have one of their weakest teams in the past decade taking the floor this week.

    Still Barnes, has been able to make something out of nothing before. His ability to make runs deep in the tournament always make Texas a threat.

12. Thad Matta (Ohio State)

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    Overall Record: 214-63

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 10 (16-9; 4 Sweet 16s, 1 Final Four)

    Even the best coaches have a bad year.

    Sometimes a team is simply too young, injuries pile up, or bad luck just gets in the way.

    Well, Thad Matta is not one for excuses.

    After 12 seasons as a head coach, Matta has never had a losing season. In fact, he has never won fewer than 20 games in a single season.

    Matta made a splash when he knocked off the Fighting Illini in his first season as the Buckeye head coach. Illinois was undefeated at the time and it was their only regular-season loss of the entire season.

    Then Matta brought in a guy named Greg Oden, and the Buckeyes were just one win away from being champions in just his second year on the job.

    Still, despite a 217-63 record with the Buckeyes, Ohio State has not advanced past the Sweet 16 since that 2007 season.

    Late losses to Tennessee and Kentucky have added to Matta's SEC woes in the past two seasons, but he still seems like one of the more likely candidates to finally break through and win a national championship.

11. Steve Fisher (San Diego State)

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    Overall Record: 437-236

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 12 (22-10; 5 Sweet 16s, 3 Final Fours, 1989 National Championship)

    Rarely do coaches get a second career like San Diego State's Steve Fisher. In fact, they rarely get the first career like Fisher did.

    Fisher was the ring leader of the Fab Five at Michigan but he only got his chance when Michigan's athletic director and legendary football coach Bo Schembechler decided to oust Bill Frieder after it was announced he was taking the Arizona State job the following season.

    That left interim coach Steve Fisher to coach the Wolverines once they entered the NCAA tournament.

    In return, Fisher, along with Glen Rice, powered Michigan to a national championship, and the miracle worker had a job.

    Fisher's good luck turned into some agonizing losses with the Fab Five in the years to come but he was still 185-81 during his time at Michigan.

    However, after scandals involving gambling, complimentary tickets and money under the table with a man named Ed Martin surfaced, Fisher lost his job and led to NCAA violations.

    Fisher landed in San Diego State and has continued to build a winning program.

    After winning just five games his first year there, Fisher has seven straight seasons of 20 wins or more.

    When it comes to the NCAA tournament, experience matters. A coach has to be able to handle the nerves as much as the kids.

    His experience and success make Fisher one of the diamonds in the rough in this tournament.

10. Bill Self (Kansas)

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    Overall Record: 469-156

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 14 (28-12; 8 Sweet 16s, 1 Final Four, 2008 National Championship)

    Bill Self's career did not start out the way many would hope. He took over an Oral Roberts team that had won a school-low five victories in an entire season. As the man charged with the task of turning it around, Self did improve the team—by one game.

    Before long though, Self had them winning again and even managed a 20-win season by his fourth year.

    Self has worked his way up the ladder, building programs and dealing with the pressure of coaching at both Illinois and Kansas.

    Replacing one of the biggest winners like Roy Williams is no small task, but he was able to do something his predecessor could not at Kansas: win a title.

    Self is not a coach that puffs his chest or tries to steal the show. Yet, no coach in the history of basketball has won more games in a five-year stretch than Self did from 2006-2011 with the Jayhawks.

    Despite the Big 12 dominance and a home record of 144-7 at one point, Kansas has one Final Four in eight years. 

    With that kind of regular-season dominance, we selfishly expect even a bit more from Self. Especially when we are up to the Mount Rushmore of coaches.

    Still, with his credentials, hundreds of coaches would die to have the career Self has already made for himself.

9. Bob Huggins (West Virginia)

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    Overall Record: 710-266

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 20 (27-19; 6 Sweet 16s, 2 Final Fours)

    The NCAA tournament just can't say no to Bob Huggins. In the past 20 years, Huggins has been in the Big Dance 19 times and won at least one game 16 times.

    Huggins has built programs for the long haul, producing some absolutely loaded teams with big, physical stars.

    Yet, despite all the success, Huggins has still failed to produce that one thing people look for: a championship.

    He has been tantalizing close, and sometimes injuries have derailed him. While this West Virginia team is one of the weakest teams in recent memories for Huggins, there is little reason to doubt that he will have them playing at their best, come opening tip.

    He is a master motivator and a strong-willed coach. His recent Final Four trip proved that he still has what it takes to compete at the highest level.

    Wherever he goes, success is going to follow.

8. Jim Boeheim (Syracuse)

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    Overall Record: 885-302

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 29 (49-27; 12 Sweet 16s, 3 Final Fours, 2003 National Championship)

    Boeheim has been an institution at Syracuse, compiling the third-most victories all-time in college basketball.

    While looking at his track record, one cannot help but awe at what he has been able to do year in and year out.

    In 36 seasons, Boeheim has missed the NCAA tournament only seven times, with one of those from a NCAA ban.

    In one of the toughest conferences in college basketball, Boeheim has one losing season in the conference since joining in 1979. Oh yeah, that was also the season Syracuse won the Big East tournament despite being the No. 9 seed.

    Boeheim has been a paragon of success, so it is surprising to see only one national championship on the list.

    There's been three championship appearances for the Orange but it took a combination of experience and youthful talent in freshman Carmelo Anthony to finally break through with the trophy in 2003.

    Boeheim has proven his ability to weave through the difficult NCAA tournament minefield. Yet, he has also had some historic losses, notably to Richmond in 1990.

    It was the first time in history a No. 15 seed has defeated a No. 2 seed.

    Those losses come with the territory when you coach so many years, but Boeheim knows that one more championship run could catapult him even higher on the list.

7. Rick Pitino (Louisville)

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    Overall Record: 617-231

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 17 (38-15; 9 Sweet 16s, 5 Final Fours, 1996 National Championship)

    There's really no denying the legend of Rick Pitino. Even though he has been coaching since 1975, at age 59 he has proven that he can handle the pressures of new eras and new programs.

    Pitino stole the hearts of Kentucky fans in eight seasons, leaving at the pinnacle of college basketball with a combined record of 69-7 in his final two seasons.

    While his tenure with the Boston Celtics has been infamously seared in our memories, Pitino has rebounded with a Louisville program that has three Elite Eights in 10 seasons.

    As good as he has done, Pitino's ballclub still has had some unexpected sputters in recent years. In this season, Louisville had one stretch where it lost five of seven games and another one where it lost four of six games to end the regular season.

    Louisville also has unexpectedly underperformed the past two seasons in the NCAA tournament. Last year the Cardinals were outplayed by 13th-seeded Morehead State that was crushed by Richmond in the second round.

    The year before they lost to Cal and in 2009 they reached the Elite Eight despite not playing a team better than a No. 9 seed before losing to Michigan State.

    Is this nit-picking? Of course. Being in the Big East will make any team lose a stretch of games and upsets happen all the time.

    However, in power rankings, even the smallest setbacks make a big difference when we get to the legendary coaches. 

6. Billy Donovan (Florida)

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    Overall Record: 417-175

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 12 (25-9; 5 Sweet 16s, 3 Final Fours, 2006 and 2007 National Championships)

    When you think about Billy Donovan, you obviously think about the back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007.

    For good reason too, those rings put Donovan's name on the map and even made him the coach of the Orlando Magic, albeit for a day.

    Yet, looking at the overall arc of his career and Donovan's legacy seems more impressive.

    Florida is known for its talent and prestige...in football. When it comes to Gator basketball, Donovan basically wrote the book.

    Yes when Donovan took over in 1996, Florida was two years removed from the Final Four. However, the team had fallen on hard times and in just his third year the Gators were going to the Sweet 16 for only the third time in school history.

    That's right: Donovan has led the Gators to three more Sweet 16s that Florida had achieved in all the years before him. 

    Donovan, like the Gators, always seems to fly under the radar. In all three of Florida's championship appearances, the national media was looking at many other teams before considering the SEC stalwart.

    In 2000 they were a No. 5 seed, their first championship came as a No. 3 seed and although they were a No. 1 seed when they repeated, most expected Ohio State with Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. to claim the crown.

    Florida simply handles its business and finds ways to win on the biggest of stages. Just like this year's version, they are not always flashy but they are productive.

5. John Calipari (Kentucky)

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    Overall Record: 497-153

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 14 (32-13; 9 Sweet 16s, 3 Final Fours)

    Kentucky coach John Calipari is a slick guy. When you listen to him talk, it sounds like he is selling you a used car at a great bargain.

    Yet the man has produced at every single school he has gone to, even if controversy inevitably follows.

    Calipari should be nicknamed "The Miracle Worker" because he has taken three different programs to the Final Four. He is the only coach in NCAA history to get three schools to a No. 1 seed.

    Whether it was at UMass, Memphis or Kentucky, Calipari has brought some of the best players in the country with him. More importantly, he is able to win with them.

    Even with a ridiculous formula of bringing in five one-and-done phenoms and praying, Calipari nearly willed Kentucky to a NCAA championship last year behind an inexperienced group.

    Which reminds us that despite all his success, Calipari still has one big hole on his list of accomplishments. Despite three Final Fours and six 30-win seasons in the past seven years, Calipari has never won a national championship.

    Oh, he has come close. In 2008 his Tigers led with just minutes to go but were unable to seal the deal at the charity stripe.

    After Mario Chalmers of Kansas hit a running miracle shot to force overtime, Calipari was left still chasing that elusive ring.

    Calipari has been a gold standard for success, and his ability to bring his show from program to program is historic. Yet, his one deficiency is the biggest a tournament coach can have. 

4. Tom Izzo (Michigan State)

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    Overall Record: 407-167

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 15 (35-13; 9 Sweet 16s, 6 Final Fours, 2000 National Championship)

    Coach Tom Izzo is Mr. Consistency in college basketball.

    Since the start of the 1997 season, Michigan State has made the NCAA tournament every single year.

    Considering that the Spartans have six Final Fours in just 14 attempts, it is safe to say that they are a team no one wants on their side of the brackets.

    The best coaches find a way for his team to play their best on the biggest of stages, when the stakes matter the most. No one seems to be quite as good at that than Izzo.

    Michigan State is a program built for the postseason: they are typically physical, balanced on scoring and have strong guard play. After all his mantra is "Players Play—Tough Players Win."

    This year's version has similar qualities to make teams scared. They are certainly winning and can once again be poised for the third championship game appearance in 13 years.

3. Jim Calhoun (Connecticut)

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    Overall Record: 866-369

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 23 (50-19; 13 Sweet 16s, 4 Final Fours; 1999, 2004, 2011 National Championships)

    Calhoun is an institution.

    When he won the national championship last year, he placed himself in some elite company and truly made his case for one of the greatest coaches in basketball history.

    Connecticut has produced quality NBA talent and Big East crowns, but Calhoun has made his career with strong showing in the tournament.

    He is a perfect 3-0 in the championship game, taking on iconic programs Duke, Georgia Tech and Kentucky to achieve it.

    He never backed into anything and although his health may be deteriorating, which makes him all the more dangerous in 2012.

    It seems clear that these players are willing to buy in and give everything for a legend that may be coaching his final season of college basketball. While it is difficult for any team to repeat, especially one whose star player is off in the NBA now, Connecticut has more than enough talent to make a run this time around.

    It certainly would not be the first time.

2. Roy Williams (North Carolina)

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    Overall Record: 669-167

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 22 (58-19; 14 Sweet 16s, 7 Final Fours; 2005 and 2009 National Championships)

    Perhaps no one has produced more success than Roy Williams in the modern era.

    At Kansas and North Carolina, Williams has put together one of the most staggering win-loss records in coaching history.

    Williams not only can recruit NBA talent, but he wins with it. He has to deal with pressure that only a handful of coaches can truly fathom.

    Success with the Tar Heels is not measured by how many wins but how many championships a coach brings home, and Williams has already reeled in two since joining North Carolina in 2003.

    Williams is a measure of consistency, missing the NCAA tournament only twice in his career (and one of those times his team was ineligible due to violations).

    He has withstood the pressure cooker of two of the biggest programs in the sport and has thrived. He rarely falters on the big stage and will not let his team stumble early. Only twice since 2000 has his team not reached the Sweet 16 when reaching the Big Dance.

    His success makes him not only a worthy candidate on this list, but a legend.

1. Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)

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    Overall Record: 926-288

    NCAA Tournament Appearances: 28 (79-24; 20 Sweet 16s, 11 Final Fours; 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010 National Championships)

    You do not become the all-time winningest coach in college basketball for nothing.

    Love him or hate him, Coach K is an icon for a reason and he has found success at every level.

    When he took over Duke, no one knew if the Blue Devils could compete with Dean Smith and the Tar Heels. He took his lumps early on in the ACC, but now has built the program into one of the signature programs in all of sports.

    Since 1984, Duke has only lost 10 games or more twice. By comparison, Kansas has five seasons of 10 losses or more since 1984, three of them from Roy Williams. Kentucky has seven since 1999. 

    Coach K has certainly been able to recruit talent but most importantly he has won with it. This year goes to show just how well he can maximize talent. A team full of inexperience and shallow depth on the inside, Duke is still a top-10 program with aspirations of a national championship.

    Duke is consistently one of the scariest programs in the country. Even non-sports fans know about the Cameron Crazies and the Blue Devil tradition. Slapping the floor may grate people's nerves but their talent and effort are hard to match.

    With four championships, Coach K is the active leader and a living legend. His success with the men's Olympic team, particularly when you consider the mediocrity that preceded him, only goes to show his ability to manage talent.

    When the Los Angeles Lakers offered Coach K the opportunity to jump ship and he said no, people learned that he will be a Blue Devil for life.

    He will finish second only to coach John Wooden as the greatest basketball coach of all time. 

    Not bad for a scrawny kid with an impossible to pronounce name from Army.