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NCAA Tournament 2012: Power Ranking Coaching Jobs of Final Four Contestants

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24:  Head coach Thad Matta  and the Ohio State Buckeyes cuts down the net after defeating the Syracuse Orange during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Final at TD Garden on March 24, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterMarch 30, 2012

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?

 

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

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates with head coach John Calipari after their 82 to 70 win over the Baylor Bears during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 24:  Head coach Rick Pitino, Peyton Siva #3 and Russ Smith #2 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Florida Gators 72-68 during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball West Regional Final at US Airways Center on March 24, 20
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 25:  Head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates with his son TYler after Kansas won 80-67 against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional Final at Edward Jones Dome on March 25,
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

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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