Tom Izzo is No. 1 coach, others are gaining
The Big Ten has taken its lumps during football season, but all that changes on the hardwood.
Much of that is due to the coaches on the bench, a deep group of some of the nation’s best coaches that’s only getting better.
Tom Izzo, John Beilein, Bo Ryan and Thad Matta make up a solid top four of coaches who have made a combined 10 Final Fours at their current stops, and Beilein and Ryan are leading their programs to new (or rather, renewed) heights.
Meanwhile, Tom Crean has returned Indiana to national prominence, and Tim Miles and Fran McCaffery have rebuilt programs at Nebraska and Iowa.
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. Tom Izzo, Michigan State
Record at Michigan State: 468-187 (.715)
NCAA Tournament: 42-16, six Final Fours, one national title
Number to note: Consistency is the name of the game here. Izzo’s teams have ranked in the top 32 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency ratings in 10 of the last 12 seasons. Michigan State has been in the top 30 of the offensive efficiency ratings in eight of the last 10 seasons.
Why he’s ranked here: An injury-plagued season cut into Michigan State’s ability to reach the Final Four, leaving Izzo with the longest Final Four drought of his career (four consecutive years). The Spartans still won 29 games and the Big Ten Tournament and reached the Elite Eight, losing to eventual national champion UConn.
2. John Beilein, Michigan
Record at Michigan: 104-60 (.615)
NCAA Tournament: 16-9, one Final Four
Number to note: Michigan is 40-14 in the Big Ten the last three seasons. The Wolverines posted one winning conference record during the previous 13 seasons.
Why he’s ranked here: Since arriving at Michigan, Beilein is 15-35 against Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan and Thad Matta, but he’s caught up to the pack. He’s 6-3 in the last nine vs. Izzo, 2-3 vs. Ryan after losing his first 10 and 4-2 in his last six vs. Matta.
3. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
Record at Wisconsin: 321-121 (.726)
NCAA Tournament: 20-13, one Final Four
Number to note: The Big Ten has been the best basketball conference the last few years, and Wisconsin has thrived. The Badgers have never finished lower than fourth in the league in 13 seasons under Ryan.
Why he’s ranked here: After 2014, no one can say Ryan is the best coach never to reach the Final Four. He’s now in the discussion for best coach to never win a national title. Could that change in 2015?
4. Thad Matta, Ohio State
Record at Ohio State: 275-83 (.786)
NCAA Tournament: 23-12, two Final Fours
Number to note: At Butler, Xavier and Ohio State, Matta has never had a losing season in conference play. The lone .500 season conference season of his career came in his debut at Ohio State.
Why he’s ranked here: Matta could make the case for being the nation’s most underrated coach. Before a round of 64 loss to Dayton last year, Ohio State’s last four Tournament appearances yielded a Final Four, an Elite Eight and two Sweet 16s.
5. Tom Crean, Indiana
Record at Indiana: 101-97 (.510)
NCAA Tournament: 8-7, one Final Four
Number to note: Indiana won one road game in Crean’s first three seasons. The Hoosiers have won 14 in three seasons since.
Why he’s ranked here: Indiana’s collapse from spending most of 2012-13 at No. 1 to missing/declining the postseason altogether is a major concern. Still, Crean brought Indiana back from 6-25 in his first season.
6. Tim Miles, Nebraska
Record at Nebraska: 34-31 (.525)
NCAA Tournament: 0-2
Number to note: Miles ended combined NCAA Tournament droughts of 25 seasons at Nebraska (16) and Colorado State (nine) in addition to laying the groundwork for Division I newcomer North Dakota State.
Why he’s ranked here: The Big Ten is as good as ever, and Nebraska is a relevant program here. The next step is to pick up the Cornhuskers first NCAA Tournament win.
7. Fran McCaffery, Iowa
Record at Iowa: 74-63 (.540)
NCAA Tournament: 2-6
Number to note: McCaffery ended a seven-year drought of 20-win seasons at Iowa and an eight-year NCAA Tournament drought for the Hawkeyes.
Why he’s ranked here: McCaffery’s turnaround at Iowa has been remarkable but Iowa hasn’t posted a winning Big Ten record since 2006-07.
8. John Groce, Illinois
Record at Illinois: 43-29 (.606)
NCAA Tournament: 4-3
Number to note: Groce has never gone one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament, reaching the round of 32 in 2010 (at Ohio) and 2013 and the Sweet 16 in 2012 (also at Ohio).
Why he’s ranked here: Illinois has yet to break through under Groce (15-21 in the Big Ten), but he has a top-10 recruiting class for 2015.
9. Matt Painter, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 191-112 (.630)
NCAA Tournament: 8-7
Number to note: Painter was 129-46 overall and 64-26 in the Big Ten with the Robbie Hummel/JaJuan Johnson/E’Twaun Moore signing class. He’s 62-66 overall and 25-43 otherwise.
Why he’s ranked here: Back-to-back losing seasons have diminished Painter’s status as a rising star.
10. Mark Turgeon, Maryland
Record at Maryland: 59-42 (.578)
NCAA Tournament: 5-5
Number to note: What is holding Maryland back under Turgeon? A 6-23 record on the road.
Why he’s ranked here: Maryland has been in the KenPom top 50 in two of three seasons under Turgeon, but he was 23-29 in the ACC with no NCAA appearances.
11. Richard Pitino, Minnesota
Record at Minnesota: 25-13 (.658)
NCAA Tournament: None
Number to note: In two seasons as a coach, Pitino’s teams have ranked 48th in tempo (FIU) and 257th (Minnesota).
Why he’s ranked here: Pitino turned an 8-21 team into a 25-13 team at FIU and won the NIT at Minnesota.
12. Patrick Chambers, Penn State
Record at Penn State: 38-59 (.392)
NCAA Tournament: 0-1
Number to note: In Year 3 under Chambers, Penn State averaged better than 70 points per game for the first time since 2000-01.
Why he’s ranked here: Winning at Penn State isn’t easy, but Chambers has kept the Nittany Lions competitive with two wins over Ohio State and a victory over Nebraska in a 6-12 Big Ten season.
13. Chris Collins, Northwestern
Record at Northwestern: 14-19 (.424)
NCAA Tournament: None
Number to note: A sign for the future? Northwestern was 14th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom last season.
Why he’s ranked here: Along with Marquette’s Steve Wojciechowski, Collins represents the next wave of Mike Krzyzewski assistants to get head coaching jobs.
14. Eddie Jordan, Rutgers
Record at Rutgers: 12-21 (.364)
NCAA Tournament: None
Number to note: Rutgers lost by 61 in its American Athletic Conference tournament elimination game to Louisville, not a reflection of a team that teams whose last four AAC losses (Memphis, UCF, UConn, Cincinnati) were decided by 4.3 points.
Why he’s ranked here: Jordan struggled as expected in his first season, but he brings a senior-laden team into the Big Ten.