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Ranking the Big 12 Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

Bill Self

Bill Self

In Big 12 basketball, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Missouri and Texas A&M left the league long ago (relatively speaking). Coaches Rich Barnes and Fred Hoiberg have gone to new places.

For more than a decade, a number of teams have taken their best shot at Kansas, but the Jayhawks have stayed on top every season since 2004-05.

The same goes for their coach, Bill Self. The Kansas coach is an easy vote for No. 1, and that is not necessarily an indictment of the rest of the coaches in the league.

Shaka Smart has been a hot candidate for many programs over the years, but Texas turned out to be his suitor. Bob Huggins is closing on 800 wins. Lon Kruger is a turnaround master. Tubby Smith has won a national championship.

Even in that group, Self is on top — until someone knocks him and his program from his perch.

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Ranking the Big 12 Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

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1. Bill Self, Kansas

Record at Kansas: 352-78, 164-36 Big 12

NCAA record: 37-16, two Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Some perspective for Self’s 11 consecutive Big 12 championships: John Wooden holds the record of consecutive league titles with 13 from 1967-79.

Why he’s ranked here: Fred Hoiberg and Frank Martin have come and gone. Kevin Durant couldn’t do it. Neither could Blake Griffin. Missouri isn’t even in the conference anymore. Nearly every Big 12 program over the last decade has had a shot an unseating Kansas at the top and ultimately failed to unseat Self.

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2. Shaka Smart, Texas

Record at Texas: First season

NCAA record: 7-5, one Final Four

Number to note: VCU led the nation in defensive turnover rate on KenPom from 2012-14 and still finished 11th last season despite losing defensive stopper Briante Weber midway through the year.

Why he’s ranked here: The 2011 Final Four and the Havoc defense are the lead items in Smart’s career, but it’s worth noting VCU remained consistent despite moving from the Colonial to the more competitive Atlantic 10.

Related: Athlon Sports preseason college basketball top 25

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3. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma

Record at Oklahoma: 82-49, 40-32 Big 12

NCAA record: 16-16, one Final Four

Number to note: Oklahoma’s 36 Big 12 wins in the last three seasons under Kruger are the most for the Sooners since 2001-03.

Why he’s ranked here: Kruger cleaned up the mess left by Kelvin Sampson and Jeff Capel, leading the Sooners to their first Sweet 16 since 2009. There should be more to come.

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4. Bob Huggins, West Virginia

Record at West Virginia: 175-101, 80-64 Big East/Big 12

NCAA record: 26-21, two Final Fours

Number to note: Huggins is seven wins short of 700 in Division I (his official career record includes 71 wins at Walsh University).

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Why he’s ranked here: Huggins led West Virginia to its best season in five years by radically changing his approach — in his 33rd year as a head coach. The Mountaineers became a full-court pressing team that was the best in the country at forcing turnovers and steals.

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5. Scott Drew, Baylor

Record at Baylor: 230-160, 85-115 Big 12

NCAA record: 8-5

Number to note: Baylor has ranked in the top 20 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency in each of the last four seasons and seven of the last eight.

Why he’s ranked here: It’s not fashionable to talk about Drew as a great coach — especially after Baylor’s first-round loss to Georgia State last season — but Drew is responsible for seven of the 10 20-win seasons in Baylor history, including each of the last four.

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6. Steve Prohm, Iowa State

Record at Iowa State: First season

NCAA record: 1-1

Number to note: In four seasons as a head coach, Prohm has two winning streaks of 23 games or more.

Why he’s ranked here: Prohm inherits a loaded roster in his first season at Iowa State. His four seasons with the Racers suggests he’ll know what to do with it.

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7. Tubby Smith, Texas Tech

Record at Texas Tech: 27-37, 9-17 Big 12

NCAA record: 30-16, one Final Four, one championship

Number to note: Smith’s 3-15 league record last season and 6-12 record the year before are the worst conference seasons of Smith’s 23-year career.

Why he’s ranked here: Smith’s teams have played hard, and he might not be as bad as his recent record indicates. That said, he hasn’t posted a winning conference record since 2007 at Kentucky, and it doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.

8. Trent Johnson, TCU

Record at TCU: 38-58, 3-39 Big 12

NCAA record: 5-5

Number to note: TCU ranked No. 65 on last season, the Horned Frogs’ highest ranking since the service began. TCU’s only other top 100 finish was No. 94 in 2004-05.

Why he’s ranked here: TCU has a long way to go before contending in the Big 12, but wins over teams like Oklahoma State and Kansas State (twice) in an 18-15 campaign shows the Frogs going in the right direction.

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9. Bruce Weber, Kansas State

Record at Kansas State: 62-38, 32-22 Big 12

NCAA record: 11-10, one Final Four

Number to note: Kansas State’s Big 12 record has declined from 14-4 to 10-8 to 8-10.

Why he’s ranked here: After last season’s debacle, Weber needs to reverse a trend that Illinois fans came to know all to well — the inevitable decline after a standout first season under Weber.

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10. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State

Record at Oklahoma State: 143-91, 60-65 Big 12

NCAA record: 1-6

Number to note: Oklahoma State is 8-16 in February and March the last two seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: Oklahoma State is more or less stuck with Ford due to an onerous contract. His team perhaps overachieved last season, but the Pokes are still riding a 10-year Sweet 16 drought that predates Ford.