For the third year in a row, some of the top Big 12 coaches represent the best the University of Illinois has to offer.
It’s true: All three Illinois coaches from 1996-2012 have a home in the Big 12. In the combined 16 seasons from the three former Illini, only one didn’t end in the NCAA Tournament.
Of course, none has been more successful than Bill Self, who has won or shared a conference title every year since taking over at Kansas, but let’s not overlook the jobs Lon Kruger and Bruce Weber have done at Oklahoma and Kansas State, respectively.
Self gets the No. 1 spot in our Big 12 coach rankings, but Kruger isn’t far behind. Only Fred Hoiberg, who has turned around his alma mater in the last three seasons, stands in between Self and Kruger.
As usual, a handful of factors go into ranking the coaches — career accomplishments, career momentum, gameday acumen, player development, recruiting, conference records and postseason success.
1. Bill Self, Kansas
Record at Kansas: 325-69 (.825)
NCAA Tournament: 36-15, two Final Fours, one national championship
Number to note: Last season was the first time since 2005 that Kansas ranked outside of the top 11 in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom.
Why he’s ranked here: Kansas lost 10 games last season, most for Self since 1998-99 at Tulsa. The Jayhawks still won (or shared) its 10th consecutive Big 12 title by two games.
2. Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
Record at Iowa State: 90-47 (.657)
NCAA Tournament: 4-3
Number to note: Iowa State’s 34 Big 12 wins during the last three seasons are one more than the Cyclones won during the previous seven seasons.
Why he’s ranked here: The Mayor has a formula that has returned Iowa State to national prominence: Owning the transfer market, high-powered offense and analytical savvy.
3. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma
Record at Oklahoma: 58-38 (.604)
NCAA Tournament: 14-15, one Final Four
Number to note: Oklahoma ranked 17th in tempo last season. Kruger didn’t have a top-100 team in that category since 2005.
Why he’s ranked here: Got a problem? Lon Kruger will solve it. He’s led clean-up jobs at Florida, UNLV, Kansas State and now Oklahoma and taken all of them (plus Illinois) to multiple NCAA Tournaments.
4. Rick Barnes, Texas
Record at Texas: 382-166 (.697)
NCAA Tournament: 21-21, one Final Four
Number to note: Since 1993-94, Barnes has missed the NCAA Tournament only twice.
Why he’s ranked here: Barnes reversed the slide of his tenure with a surprising 24-11 season and 11-7 finish in the Big 12. The Myles Turner arrival signaled he still has some Lone Star State recruiting clout.
5. Bob Huggins, West Virginia
Record at West Virginia: 150-91 (.622)
NCAA Tournament: 27-20, one Final Four
Number to note: Huggins averaged 8.3 losses per season in 21 years at Akron and Cincinnati. He’s averaged 12.9 since his return at Kansas State and West Virginia.
Why he’s ranked here: Though West Virginia missed the NCAA Tournament, the Mountaineers improved offensively by 11 points per game thanks to Huggins’ most up-tempo team in nearly a decade.
6. Scott Drew, Baylor
Record at Baylor: 206-150 (.579)
NCAA Tournament: 8-4
Number to note: Drew is 17-5 combined in the NCAA Tournament and NIT, claiming two Elite Eights, a Sweet 16 and an NIT title.
Why he’s ranked here: The even-year, odd-year trend for Baylor predicts a down year in 2014-15.
7. Tubby Smith, Texas Tech
Record at Texas Tech: 14-18 (.438)
NCAA Tournament: 30-16, one Final Four, one national championship
Number to note: Smith hasn’t led a team to a winning conference record since his final season at Kentucky.
Why he’s ranked here: In what seemed like questionable hire at first, Smith led Texas Tech to its best Big 12 record since 2007-08 with wins over Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas.
8. Bruce Weber, Kansas State
Record at Kansas State: 47-21 (.691)
NCAA Tournament: 11-10, one Final Four
Number to note: Weber is 2-6 in the NCAA Tournament since taking Illinois to the national title game in 2005.
Why he’s ranked here: Weber’s best seasons as a coach have come in Years 1-2 at Illinois and Kansas State. He’s entering Year 3 in Manhattan.
9. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
Record at Oklahoma State: 125-77 (.619)
NCAA Tournament: 1-5
Number to note: Oklahoma State is 34-36 in the Big 12 the last four seasons. Ford was 18-14 in his first two seasons.
Why he’s ranked here: Ford’s burdensome contract will outlast Marcus Smart in Stillwater.
10. Trent Johnson, TCU
Record at TCU: 20-43 (.317)
NCAA Tournament: 5-5
Number to note: Since leading LSU to a 27-8 in his first season in Baton Rogue, Johnson is 60-99 since.
Why he’s ranked here: Perhaps no coach could lead TCU to relevance in the Big 12. At 2-34 in conference play, TCU hasn’t even been competitive.