It seems like every time you turn around somebody is releasing some kind of ranking for college basketball. And surprise surprise! Kentucky is usually found somewhere near the top. This list is no different. Athlon Sports ranks its top 50 coaches for the upcoming basketball season, and Tom Izzo takes the crown for the second straight year.
Athlon says they look at the “whole package” when ranking coaches, including recruiting, player development, and regular-season and post-season success, along with the coach’s career trajectory. According to Athlon, Izzo is the best at doing all of the above. And it’s hard to argue when you consider that no senior who has started with Izzo has finished his four years without reaching the Final Four. It’s not the top spot Kentucky fans might have a beef with. It’s whose number two…
1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State: 439-178 (.712)
2. Rick Pitino, Louisville: 662-235 (.738)
3. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke: 957-238 (.800)
4. John Calipari, Kentucky: 568-166 (.774)
Calipari had his worst season since 2004-05 at Memphis as Kentucky went 21-12 and lost to Robert Morris in the NIT. True, this was not a typical Calipari team, but the Wildcats were on the verge of the NCAA Tournament before star Nerlens Noel went down with a leg injury. But Calipari should rebound in a way only he can. While his 2012-13 team plodded through an unimpressive SEC, Calipari was assembling one of the best recruiting classes of all time. Calipari could turn an NIT embarrassment into another Final Four appearance or more in 2013-14.
5. Bill Self, Kansas: 507-164 (.756)
6. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse: 920-314 (.746)
7. Roy Williams, North Carolina: 700-180 (.795)
8. Billy Donovan, Florida: 450-186 (.708)
9. Thad Matta, Ohio State: 352-104 (.772)
10. John Beilein, Michigan: 415-260 (.615)
There is little doubt the NIT season last year killed Calipari in the eyes of Athlon Sports, but it is surely impressive that despite the miserable season he still ranked among the top five coaches with the given criteria. Things could be worse. The Cats will be on their revenge tour in just a couple of months, and pretty soon the entire college basketball landscape will tremble at the sight of our Wildcats. This is just a stupid list. But you can see the rest of the top 50 on Athlon Sports if you care.
Cats by 90.