Skip to main content

Ranking the Big Ten Basketball Coaches for 2015-16


These are interesting times for coaches on top of the Big Ten.

Tom Izzo is coming off a frustrating regular season and a triumphant trip to the Final Four. Bo Ryan is coming off the best two-year stretch of his career and a (perhaps premature) retirement announcement.

John Beilein and Thad Matta both had disappointing seasons. Tom Crean overachieved, but he still enters this season on the hot seat.

And perhaps none of them will have a better team in 2015-16 than Mark Turgeon.

The Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine is available now.

Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?

Subscribe:iTunes | Stitcher

Ranking the Big Ten Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

Image placeholder title

1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

Record at Michigan State: 495-199, 233-107 Big Ten

NCAA record: 46-17, seven Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Izzo’s first three Final Four teams were No. 1 seeds. His last four were seeded seventh (2015), fifth (2010, 2005) and second (2009).

Why he’s ranked here: Izzo is 15 years removed from his national championship, but he’s on one of the best runs of his career. Michigan State has won at least 27 games in seven of the last eight seasons.

Image placeholder title

2. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

Record at Wisconsin: 357-125, 172-68 Big Ten

NCAA record: 25-14, two Final Fours

Number to note: Ryan is 42-24 against Tom Izzo, John Beilein and Thad Matta. He’s also the only one of the four with a winning record against each of the other three.

Why he’s ranked here: Will he retire or won’t he? Either way, Ryan just capped the best two-year span of what’s likely a Hall of Fame career. If Wisconsin slips back to pre-Kaminsky/Dekker levels, that’s still a top-four finish in the Big Ten and an NCAA appearance.

Image placeholder title

3. John Beilein, Michigan

Record at Michigan: 166-110, 78-66 Big Ten

NCAA record: 16-9, one Final Four

Number to note: How about this for ball security: Nine of Beilein’s last 11 teams at Michigan and West Virginia have ranked in the top 25 in turnover rate.

Why he’s ranked here: Last year’s 16-16 debacle should be credited to injuries and bad luck. With Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton back, Michigan and Beilein should be back in the Big Ten title discussion.

Image placeholder title

4. Thad Matta, Ohio State

Record at Ohio State: 299-94, 132-60 Big Ten

NCAA record: 24-13, two Final Fours

Number to note: Ohio State is 5-12 against Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin the last two seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: In general, Matta is as steady as they come. He’s only missed the NCAA Tournament twice as a head coach. Ohio State was under NCAA sanctions in one of those; the Buckeyes won the NIT in the other. That said, the Buckeyes have taken a dip the last two seasons, finishing fifth and sixth in the Big Ten and failing to reach the Sweet 16.

Image placeholder title

5. Mark Turgeon, Maryland

Record at Maryland: 87-50, 37-33 ACC/Big Ten

NCAA record: 6-6

Number to note: In eight seasons at Maryland and Texas A&M, Turgeon’s teams have ranked in the top 40 in defensive efficiency on KenPom six times.

Why he’s ranked here: Turgeon led Maryland to its best season since the 2003 national championship last year and will have a preseason top 10 team for the first time in his career.

Image placeholder title

6. Fran McCaffery, Iowa

Record at Iowa: 96-75, 42-48 Big Ten

NCAA record: 3-7

Number to note: McCaffery’s 67 wins over the last three seasons in the most for Iowa in a three-year span since Tom Davis went 77-25 from 1986-89.

Why he’s ranked here: McCaffery has revived the Hawkeyes' program, but he still has work to do to get Iowa into the same stratosphere as Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State.

Image placeholder title
Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

7. Tom Crean, Indiana

Record at Indiana: 121-111, 49-77 Big Ten

NCAA record: 9-8, one Final Four

Number to note: Three of Crean’s last four teams have shot 40 percent or better from 3-point range.

Why he’s ranked here: Perpetually on the hot seat, Crean is entering a critical season. The Hoosiers have had a winning Big Ten record twice since he was hired in 2008.

Image placeholder title

8. Matt Painter, Purdue

Record at Purdue: 212-125, 101-75 Big Ten

NCAA record: 8-8

Number to note: Purdue has lost seven in a row to Michigan State, four in a row to Wisconsin, seven of eight to Ohio State and four of the last five against Michigan.

Why he’s ranked here: Painter has pulled Purdue out of its two-year funk since the Robbie Hummel class left. The Boilermakers have a huge season ahead of them.

Image placeholder title

9. Tim Miles, Nebraska

Record at Nebraska: 47-79, 21-33 Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-2

Number to note: Nebraska hasn’t finished in the top 100 offensive efficiency since 2000-10 or the top 90 since 2003-04. Last year’s team was the worst offensive showing for Nebraska since 2002-03.

Why he’s ranked here: This time last year, Miles appeared to have Nebraska on the rise after the Cornhuskers’ first NCAA appearance since 1998. Last season showed how far his roster has to go.

Image placeholder title

10. John Groce, Illinois

Record at Illinois: 62-42, 24-30 Big Ten

NCAA record: 4-3

Number to note: Groce has had a winning conference record just twice in seven seasons as a head coach — both of his last two years at Ohio.

Why he’s ranked here: Groce has faced some bad luck in terms of recruiting misses and injuries (the latter will continue this season), but the fact remains that Illinois was shut out of the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years for the first time since 1991-92.

Image placeholder title

11. Richard Pitino, Minnesota

Record at Minnesota: 43-28, 14-22 Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-0

Number to note: Of Minnesota’s 13 Big Ten losses last season (including the tournament), nine were by six points or fewer.

Why he’s ranked here: Last year’s 18-15 campaign has dimmed some of the optimism around Pitino. His name has come up around other jobs, but he has yet to prove he can win with the one he has.

Image placeholder title

12. Chris Collins, Northwestern

Record at Northwestern: 29-36, 12-24 Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-0

Number to note: Collins’ 29 wins in his first two seasons is the best start for a coach in Northwestern history.

Why he’s ranked here: After two seasons of rebuilding the roster, Collins is expecting a substantial leap forward in his third season.

Image placeholder title

13. Patrick Chambers, Penn State

Record at Penn State: 56-75, 16-56 Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-1

Number to note: Penn State has had four Big Ten losing streaks of 16 games or more in the last three seasons, including an 0-14 start in 2012-13.

Why he’s ranked here: Penn State has been to three NCAA Tournaments and three NITs in the last 20 years. Chambers’ lone postseason appearance is in the CBI. A strong recruiting class in 2016 could be the turning point for his program.

Image placeholder title

14. Eddie Jordan, Rutgers

Record at Rutgers: 22-43, 7-29 American/Big Ten

NCAA record: 0-0

Number to note: Rutgers has had many bad teams, but the Scarlet Knights’ No. 215 KenPom ranking last year was their worst since 2002.

Why he’s ranked here: Jordan and Mike Krzyzewski have one thing in common: Their most recent win came against Wisconsin. Jordan’s was on Jan. 11.