Athlon Sports: Tom Izzo is nation's No. 1 hoops coach

It’s good to be Tom Izzo and the Michigan State basketball team. One day after the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook ranked the Spartans No. 1 in its preseason poll, Athlon Sports named Izzo the nation’s top college hoops coach. Neither result is much of a stunner, especially when one considers what the Spartans return and what Tom Izzo has done in his career.

[ MORE: AthlonSports.com: Ranking the top 50 coaches for 2013-14 ]

Only three other Big Ten teams, believe it or not, were ranked in Blue Ribbon’s preseason top 25: No. 9 Michigan; No. 11 Ohio State; No. 24 Iowa. That means no Indiana or Wisconsin.

As for Athlon’s top 50 coaches for 2013-14, Thad Matta (No. 9), John Beilein (No. 10), Bo Ryan (No. 12), Tom Crean (No. 17), Matt Painter (No. 28) and Fran McCaffery (No. 37) follow Izzo.

Glad to see McCaffery included here. One possible omission: John Groce. Something tells me he will be on this list in the not-so-distant future.

Here’s what Athlon says about Izzo:

Tom Izzo will have two McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster in 2013-14 in Keith Appling and Gary Harris, a rarity for the longtime Spartans’ coach. Few coaches have weathered the changes in college basketball as well as Izzo — the changes in the NBA Draft rules, the ups and downs in the Big Ten and all the challenges that come with recruiting. Izzo has assembled the Big Ten’s most consistent program without a glut of first-round draft picks (none since 2006) or early entries to the NBA Draft (none during the one-and-done era). Consider this: Appling and Adreian Payne are looking to avoid becoming the first senior class to play all four years with Izzo and miss the Final Four.

And Matta:

More often than not, Matta has had the most talented roster in the Big Ten, especially since the Thad Five led the Buckeyes to the national championship game in 2007. The Buckeyes have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons, though the 2011 team that stalled in the Sweet 16 was a major postseason disappointment. In 13 seasons as a head coach at Xavier, Butler and Ohio State, Matta has claimed at least a share of a regular season title an astounding eight times.

And Beilein:

Beilein is, in college basketball coaching terms, a self-made man. He’s never been an assistant, making his route to Michigan that much more unique. But now that he’s made the journey from community college to Le Moyne to Canisius to Richmond to West Virginia to Ann Arbor, we’re getting an idea of what Beilein can do at a Big Ten powerhouse. Beilein is the most successful coach at Michigan since the Fab Five days, and he shows little signs of slowing down. He’s signed elite recruits like Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III while developing a point guard Ohio State ignored in its own backyard (Trey Burke) into the national player of the year.

Click here to read what Athlon says about the other Big Ten coaches who made the list.

About Brent Yarina BTN.com senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.

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shookwriter27 on 9/17/2013 @ 2:48pm EDT Said:

Tom Izzo is a great coach. John Groce will be recognized as a great coach one day soon.

J.C. Pennington on 9/17/2013 @ 4:06pm EDT Said:

Ohio State did not “ignore” Trey Burke. He committed to Penn St as a soph so Matta went out and got a McD AA guard.

George Burns on 9/18/2013 @ 12:29pm EDT Said:

Most sports writers & coaches don’t recognize Wisconsin in the top 25 put you can bet your but that Bo will have them there in March.