After nearly three weeks of action, the 2013 NCAA tournament has hit the stage of the Final Four. As the teams gain steam and the players earn praise, few are acknowledging the elite coaches who have reached this elite level.
The question is simple—which coach is the best of the best remaining?
In order to rank the remaining coaches, it's imperative that we offer a profile on who is remaining. That includes active legends, rising leaders and a coach that has only recently avoided the calls for his head.
In other words, we have it all.
The Syracuse Orange are led by Hall of Fame head coach Jim Boeheim. The Louisville Cardinals are led by future Hall of Famer Rick Pitino.
The Michigan Wolverines, meanwhile, are fronted by John Beilein. Wichita State is led by mid-major coach on the rise Gregg Marshall.
With so many powerful presences, we're left asking just one question—who is the best general remaining?
4. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State Shockers
Gregg Marshall is one of the fastest rising names on the coaching carousel. Marshall, 50, has won six conference Coach of the Year awards, seven conference tournament titles and seven conference regular season titles.
Marshall even won the 2011 NIT championship.
His latest feat is leading Wichita State to their first Final Four appearance since 1965. This is a major reason that Marshall had been rumored for the previously vacant UCLA head coaching position.
This man can coach, ladies and gentlemen. Don't let a ranking of fourth fool you into believing that he's incapable of leading the Shockers to the national championship game.
It's simply a matter of comparison.
3. John Beilein, Michigan Wolverines
John Beilein has been a head coach at the high school or collegiate level since 1975. Since 2005, he's made three Sweet 16 appearances, made two Elite Eight berths and won the 2007 NIT championship.
In 2013, Beilein is making his first career Final Four appearance.
During his first three seasons with Michigan, Beilein made just one NCAA Tournament appearance. This led to many in Ann Arbor calling for Beilein's job, which led to a record of 21-14 in 2010-11.
Over the past two seasons, however, Beilein's Wolverines are a combined 25-11 in Big Ten play.
Beilein's motion offense has the Wolverines thriving in 2012-13, with Naismith Award finalist Trey Burke running the show. The Wolverines also committed the least amount of turnovers per game during the 2012-13 season.
With the 1-3-1 zone working well enough for NCAA tournament success, Beilein has the Wolverines in prime position for a title.
2. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Orange
Head coach Jim Boeheim has been at Syracuse since 1976. In that time, he's led the Orange to 30 NCAA Tournament appearances, making 17 trips to the Sweet 16, six to the Elite Eight and four to the Final Four.
Boeheim won the 2003 National Championship.
Furthermore, Boeheim became the third coach in NCAA men's basketball history to reach the 900-win plateau during December of 2012. Paired with his tournament success, it's fair to say that Boeheim is an active legend.
All who claim to be affiliated with Boeheim or the Syracuse program will likely debate that he deserves to be No. 1.
For what it's worth, three of Syracuse's four Final Four appearances under Boeheim have led to national championship game berths. That bodes well for Boeheim entering a game against coach John Beilein and the Michigan Wolverines.
There's reason to believe that Boeheim is the best around. One coach might dispute that.
1. Rick Pitino, Louisville Cardinals
Rick Pitino is one of the most accomplished head coaches in the history of college basketball. He's made seven Final Four appearances, including two consecutive berths in 2012 and 2013.
Pitino also won the 1996 national championship with the Kentucky Wildcats.
As for why Pitino is ranked above the legendary coach Jim Boeheim, it's all about recent history. Over the past six years, Pitino has done something that no other coach can stake claim to.
Pitino's Louisville Cardinals have made four Elite Eight appearances in the past six seasons. Furthermore, Pitino has led the Cardinals to three Final Four appearances in the past nine seasons.
If not for tenures with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics of the NBA, Pitino's career college resume might be even more impressive.
The case for overall wins might be brought into this conversation, but Pitino is a NCAA tournament master. The only thing that has eluded Pitino in recent years is a title.
Could that change in the coming days?
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