Last week, we covered the top five overrated college basketball coaches, and today we will look at the top five coaches in college basketball. As a handicapper, Craig looks at it differently than your average fan. Most fans of a school look at the wins and losses, but Craig looks at whether the players are performing above or below their potential. This is a hidden handicapping tool that helps separate between close matchups.
- Tom Izzo: Best defense-first and rebounding team almost every year. One of the few Big Ten schools that performs very well in the NCAA tournament. You should always feel safe playing Michigan State against the spread, because you know they are going to come to play. Not the most talented basketball team, but they always play hard and smart basketball.
- Coach K: Well, he does have the most NBA players, but rarely does his team get blown out. Very good defensive team and creative on offense to get his players in the right spot. Don't forget his three championships in an era where no one else has more than two.
- Bill Self: Only one championship, but in a short period of time, he has established himself as a big game winner. Kansas had a ton of upset losses under Roy Williams, but now that he is there, they are coming to play every day on both ends of the court. Don't forget he turned around Illinois before leaving for Kansas.
- Ben Howland: Three Final Fours in the last five years speaks for itself. Best defensive coach in the country, that can get great athletes to play defense. Offense is probably his weakness, but he gets the job done most of the time.
- Bob Huggins: Everywhere he has been, he has completely turned around the programs. Most think he can't win in the tournament. I think he is normally getting a higher seed than the team deserves, because during the season, he beats so many teams by out-coaching them. Very underrated coach—not many pros have come from his teams—but he is always in the top 20.
Handicapping tools are different for each capper, but for me, coaching is right up there with talent level. Make sure when capping you do not fall in love with just talent, as these coaches and other great ones constantly beat teams with better talent by having their team ready to play.