NCAA Tournament 2012: Power Ranking Coaching Jobs of Final Four Contestants
Bad coaches rarely (if ever) find their way to the Final Four.
That's certainly no concern for this year's field in New Orleans, which features about as good a collection of sideline talent as you'll ever see gathered in one place. Each of the four head men who've guided their teams to the last weekend of 2012 NCAA tournament have done tremendously well to get their respective teams to this point, but whose feats of organization and motivation stand above the rest?
Which coach has done the best job with his team to get to the Final Four??
4. Thad Matta, Ohio State
Thad Matta is far and away the "baby" of the coaching field in the Big Easy. The 44-year-old Ohio State head man is soaking up his second trip to the Final Four, the first one coming in 2007 with Greg Oden and Mike Conley leading the way.
His Buckeyes were a popular preseason pick to play deep into tourney and have certainly lived up to expectations, despite a pair of worrisome lulls during the regular season.
And while Matta certainly had plenty of talent with which to work—namely All-American Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft, William Buford and Deshaun Thomas—he still deserves a big pat on the back for replacing key contributors like Jon Diebler, David Lighty and Dallas Lauderdale and coming away with an even better team.
3. John Calipari, Kentucky
Speaking of replacing key players and not missing a beat, John Calipari lost Brandon Knight, DeAndre Liggins and Enes Kanter (who was ruled ineligible before the season) to the 2011 NBA draft and promptly replaced them with bigger, better players on the way to a second consecutive Final Four appearance.
Now, it's one thing to have four potential lottery picks (Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones and Marquis Teague) at your disposal. It's another to get them to play hard and together every single night.
But that's exactly what Coach Cal has done, in molding the prohibitive favorite to win it all on Monday.
2. Rick Pitino, Louisville
Of course, Calipari isn't the only blue-chip coach to add an item to his CV this season. Rick Pitino bade farewell to Terrence Jennings and Preston Knowles from a Louisville team that lost to Kenneth Faried and Morehead State in the first round of the Big Dance last year.
And after a rough romp through the Big East during the regular season, Pitino managed to steer the Cardinals to four wins in four days during the conference tournament and on to wins over Michigan State and Florida, among others.
This, despite an offense that still struggles to score. Pitino's coaxed his team into playing shutdown defense while squeezing stellar contributions out of Peyton Siva, Russ Smith and Gorgui Dieng.
And all without the services of star forward Rakeem Buckles, who tore his ACL in late February.
1. Bill Self, Kansas
Bill Self's put together his fair share of top-notch coaching jobs over the years, with seven consecutive Big 12 regular season titles and a national championship on his resume prior to this season.
But nothing can quite measure up to what he's done at Kansas this year. Self saw the Morris twins and Josh Selby depart for the NBA, and lost Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed to graduation, from a team that went within an upset loss to VCU of reaching the Final Four.
That left Self with one returning starter (the enigmatic Tyshawn Taylor) and a small slew of reserves to go along with a transfer (Kevin Young) and a sparsely used walk-on (Connor Teahen).
And, somehow, he fashioned out of those players a seven-man rotation, centered around emergent All-American Thomas Robinson, and the shot at a national championship that was supposed to belong to last year's squad.
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