Athlon recently released its ranking of the top 30 men’s basketball coaches, and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo found his name atop the prestigious list. Izzo beat out the usual suspects, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Kentucky’s John Calipairi, for top billing and was one of six Big Ten coaches who the made cut. That’s half of the Big Ten coaches, for you non-math majors. And now you know why the experts say the Big Ten features the best coaches.
[AthlonSports.com: Ranking the nation's top college basketball coaches]
Here’s what Athlon had to say about Izzo:
“Although the NBA has been interested in Izzo, it’s tough to imagine him coaching anywhere else. Izzo has his system at Michigan State down to a science. While we can’t say Michigan State overachieves — the Spartans get their share of McDonald’s All-Americans and sends players to the NBA — Izzo has a way of getting the most from his players. Only two Spartans have declared early for the NBA Draft in the last decade and none since 2006. Michigan State has continued a run of 15 consecutive NCAA Tournaments despite producing only one lottery pick since 2001 and no first round picks since 2006. Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams are the only active coaches with more trips to the Final Four than Izzo’s six.”
And here’s the rest of the Big Ten representatives:
9. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
14. Thad Matta, Ohio State
17. Tom Crean, Indiana
18. John Beilein, Michigan
24. Matt Painter, Purdue
[AthlonSports.com: Ranking the Big Ten's basketball coaches]
It’s hard to argue with any of the Big Ten names Athlon included. Crean’s inclusion does go to show how much things can change in one year. There’s no way his name was even in the discussion, much less at No. 17, a year ago at this time. But to Crean’s credit, he turned the Hoosiers around quicker than expected, and they are a popular pick to start the 2012-13 season ranked No. 1.
An interesting thought from this list: Is Bo Ryan underrated? Yes, he has no national titles, something all eight of the guys ahead of him have. That said, he’s had sustained success with far less talented players than every guy ahead of him. In other words, what could he accomplish with Calipari-like talents? It’d probably yield better results than what Calipari would do with Ryan-like talents.