NCAA Tournament 2012: 10 No-Name Coaches Who Could Be the Next Shaka Smart
There are many aspects of the NCAA tournament that make it one of the best events in sports. One of these aspects is the ability to take a "no-name" coach to the national level.
VCU's Shaka Smart, Butler's Brad Stevens and Davidson's Bob McKillop are among the few coaches that have made a name for themselves from the NCAA tourney.
As the mid-major schools continue to grow talent-wise, the ability to knock off a powerhouse team becomes more possible.
This year, who has the opportunity that Shaka Smart got?
I'm going to give the world 10 coaches to keep an eye on that have a chance to be the next national sensation.
Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
After leading his team to the NIT title in 2011, coach Marshall is back to lead his Shockers in the NCAA tournament.
Wichita State went an incredible 27-5 in the regular season, good enough for a five seed in the South Region of this year's tourney.
If the Shockers get by the first round game against VCU and Shaka Smart, they will face either Indiana or New Mexico State.
This team has the talent to beat any of these teams, and I believe they will.
Their toughest test after that will be the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament, Kentucky.
Although I have Kentucky winning this matchup, anything is possible in March Madness.
This could be one of the big upsets of 2012, and it could propel coach Marshall to the national spotlight.
Steve Prohm, Murray State
What coach Prohm has done with this Murray State team cannot be described by any complimentary adjective.
The Racers enter March Madness as a six seed and an overall record of 30-1.
Although they had a cupcake schedule, this team is legitimate.
Isaiah Canaan is a stud that coach Prohm has transformed into one of the best guards in the country.
Remember the name Steve Prohm, college basketball fans.
Greg McDermott, Creighton
Creighton played well throughout the whole season, but got placed in the dreaded 8/9 game with SEC representative Alabama.
The reward for the winner of this game is top-seeded North Carolina (barring a historic 16 over 1 upset).
If Creighton gets by the Crimson Tide, which I believe is going to happen, they have the chance to attack Carolina with John Henson and his still ailing wrist.
This team is capable of upsetting the Tar Heels, so pay attention to this potential matchup with coach Williams and coach McDermott.
Wayne Tinkle, Montana
The Big Sky Champion Montana Grizzlies have a difficult, but winnable draw.
Coach Wayne Tinkle will have the Grizzlies ready to play against the Badgers from Wisconsin in a potential 4/13 upset game.
Throughout the season, I understand the Big Ten had good competition, I just do not see the Big Ten representing the tournament well this year.
I believe that coach Tinkle could lead Montana (25-6) past the Badgers and face either Vandy or Harvard in a second-round battle to see who goes to the Sweet 16.
Coach Tinkle is a man on a mission. Watch out for the Grizzlies.
Dave Rice, UNLV
Coach Dave Rice and the Runnin' Rebels of UNLV had a great year and will represent the Mountain West Conference in the NCAA tournament as a six seed.
Their first-round opponent is going to be the Colorado Buffaloes, who surprisingly took the Pac-12 Tournament crown last week.
To me, UNLV will run right past Colorado and will take on either Baylor or South Dakota State in the Round of 32.
UNLV did knock off No. 1 seed UNC earlier this season, showing their potential to play with the big boys.
Baylor should win their first-round matchup, but I believe they could fall to UNLV in the second round.
Look for coach Rice to play up-tempo basketball and score a lot of points. UNLV can outscore most opponents and have the chance to become nationally recognized this year.
Randy Bennett, St. Mary's
The West Coast Conference always makes a splash in the NCAA tourney.
Gonzaga and St. Mary's constantly battle it out all season to win the conference, and this year, it was the Gaels.
Coach Bennett did win his conference, but received just a seven seed and has to play Big Ten representative Purdue in the first round.
I believe the Gaels will take care of business against the Boilermakers, and if that happens, it will set up an interesting matchup in the second round.
Most likely their second-round opponent will be Kansas.
Although I have Kansas going to the title game, I think St. Mary's can compete till the end.
I see this game going down to the last seconds and possible overtime, with the Jayhawks taking it.
Coach Bennett could make people cognizant of the Gaels if their mid-major school takes down a Big Ten school in the first round.
Steve Alford, New Mexico
Coach Steve Alford definitely has been in the national spotlight, but I am writing on behalf of the University of New Mexico.
The Lobos went under the radar all season long, not being in the national spotlight once.
In their first game, the face Long Beach state (12 seed). If the Lobos handle LBSU, then they will face either Big East Champs Louisville or one-time Cinderella Davidson.
When this club is playing at the potential they can play at, they will be tough to beat.
This is one team that could make a surprising Sweet 16 and Elite Eight run.
Keep and eye on UNM.
Stan Heath, South Florida
After nearly taking down Notre Dame in the Big East semifinals, the Bulls of South Florida proved what they are capable of.
This team squeaked into the tourney this year and has to play against California in the play in game.
The winner of this game will take on Temple from the Atlantic 10.
I believe the winner of this game will beat Temple and advance to the round of 32.
South Florida seems more likely, to me, to win the play in game.
With that being said, the Bulls could make some noise against Temple and possibly Michigan in the second round.
Coach Heath is underrated. Check his team out.
Tommy Amaker, Harvard
This pick is another Steve Alford-type pick.
Tommy Amaker has been on the national scene for some time now with Michigan and Seton Hall, and was relatively successful there.
This pick is for Harvard.
No doubt about it, this team is flat out good.
The Crimson's basketball IQ is off the charts, and Harvard controls every single game they play.
At one point, they were ranked in the AP Top 25, they finished the season 26-4 and were crowned the Ivy League Champs.
Every analyst is high on Vanderbilt, but I like the Crimson in this first-round matchup. If Amaker leads Harvard past the Commodores, they will face either Wisconsin or Montana.
Both of those opponents have had their struggles throughout the season and, if Harvard catches them on an off day, they could make a Sweet 16 appearance.
Is it likely, not completely, but this is why we watch the game.
Pay attention to Harvard.
Larry Eustachy, Southern Miss
Unfortunately, Southern Miss is another case of bad luck.
The winner of this 8/9 game against Kansas State will face the Orange of Syracuse in the second round.
But, with the way the Syracuse played in against Cincinnati, they showed their weaknesses.
All year, the 'Cuse pulled out two-, three- and four-point victories, but will this fly in March Madness?
How many times can a team win by a bucket or two?
Syracuse's answer may come against the Conference USA representative, SMU.
Although not extremely likely, the Golden Eagles have the talent to play with Syracuse. If they take down K-State, be prepared for a surprisingly competitive game against Syracuse in the second round.