Defining the impact of a college basketball head coach on his team is an inexact science, but certain coaches clearly have achieved more success than others in the NCAA Tournament.
Several elites, including two Hall of Famers, remain in the field as the Big Dance enters the Sweet 16 beginning Thursday. Just for kicks, amNewYork projected how this weekend’s regional semifinals and finals action would shake out based solely on each coaches’ past tournament success.
Coaches: Scott Drew (No. 3 Baylor), Mike White (No. 4 Florida), Frank Martin (No. 7 South Carolina), Greg Gard (No. 8 Wisconsin)
Drew led the Bears to the Elite Eight twice before, one more than Martin.
Gard guided the Badgers to this point last year, his first as a D-1 head coach. With this being White’s first NCAA tourney appearance, his Gators go down.
Clearly, Drew’s resume and experience exceeds Gard’s.
Coaches: Mark Few (No. 1 Gonzaga), Sean Miller (No. 2 Arizona), Bob Huggins (No. 4 West Virginia), Chris Mack (No. 11 Xavier)
Huggins has been to two Final Fours, while Few has yet to get over the Elite Eight hump with the Zags.
Miller, once Xavier’s coach, took the Musketeers farther than his successor Mack has. That’s enough to get the win.
Despite Huggins’ past national semifinal berths, rising star Miller and his four Elite Eight appearances in 12 D-1 seasons give him and the Wildcats a narrow victory.
Coaches: Bill Self (No. 1 Kansas), Dana Altman (No. 3 Oregon), Matt Painter (No. 4 Purdue), John Beilein (No. 7 Michigan)
Self is one of three coaches remaining to win it all, trumping Painter’s more modest body of work.
The Wolverines were finalists four years ago under Beilein. Altman can’t say that yet.
On the other hand, Self is a two-time finalist with the Jayhawks who will reach his third Final Four.
Coaches: Roy Williams (No. 1 North Carolina), John Calipari (No. 2 Kentucky), Steve Alford (No. 3 UCLA), Chris Holtmann (No. 4 Butler)
Williams, the only two-time champion remaining, crushes Holtmann, who makes his Sweet 16 debut.
Calipari has taken three teams to the Final Four, something Alford has yet to do.
In the premier coaching matchup of the tournament, Williams’ Tar Heels edge one-time champion Calipari and the Wildcats.