College basketball tipped off last night and we were blessed to see some awesome match ups. No. 4 Duke and No. 3 Kansas battled it out in game one, and then No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Kentucky faced off for a potential National Championship preview to close the night. Both Duke and Kentucky found themselves victorious. However, there were a ton of games on last night and a ton of games on tonight. But let’s look beyond the players and focus on the coaches in this one. College basketball is jam packed with Hall of Fame coaches who just shit out NBA prospect after NBA prospect year in and year out. So here is my list of the top 5 coaches who I think will have a successful year with their team. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about coaching.
5- Penny Hardaway, Memphis
Memphis is one of the more interesting teams in the country this year. They have the number one overall high school player in his class, James Wiseman, and No. 17 recruit Precious Achiuwa. But these two recruits were drawn to play for Memphis because of Hardaway. Hardaway is an interesting coach. He brings his NBA experience, as well as his young coaching mentality that allows him to be more relatable to his players. Memphis is currently ranked No. 14 to start the season, and I think this is a ranking they will hover around all year. I think Memphis will win their conference, the AAC. I can see them being a solid 3-5 seed in the tournament and boy am I excited to watch Penny coach.
4- Chris Beard, Texas Tech
Chris Beard and No. 13 Texas Tech came off one of the best overall team turnarounds in recent years. From my knowledge of college hoops, Tech has never been a basketball school. I could be wrong, but that is just my understanding. Beard is an awesome and exciting coach, who basketball fans everywhere love. Beard has single-handily along with Jarrett Culver and some other decent players turned the program around to what it is now. It’s hard for Tech to be in a conference with Kansas and Baylor and still get the same respect that they do, but after last year they are on Kansas’ level. I expect Beard and Tech to have another great year both during the season and in the tournament.
3- Bruce Pearl, Auburn
I love Bruce Pearl. I think Pearl is a one of the best basketball coaches in the world. Now I know he’s had a lot of recruiting violations with other schools and even Auburn was hit with FBI papers last year. But hey nothing a Final Four can’t fix, literally. Pearl is an exciting coach who brings back FIVE seniors this year who all played a huge role in their run last year. Auburn is currently ranked number 24, but expect them to move up as the year goes on. I think Auburn can do the same thing they did last year, and maybe even win the whole thing. Pearl is a coaching capable of winning the National Championship and they 100% have the players to repeat last year’s success.
2- Mike Brey, Notre Dame
I think Notre Dame is going to be a very good team this year. The Irish were hit with the injury bug last year, and a lot of young freshmen had to play a role they probably expected not to in their first year. But that is always a good thing. Because that allows Brey to coach up these young guys and then have his veterans come back healthy. ND will be a top ACC team this year. I think they will be just a tier below Duke, UNC, and Virginia but on the same level as Louisville and Syracuse. Sadly Brey has never been to a Final Four and I don’t think this year will change that. However, do expect Notre Dame to be a 5 seed in the tournament and go at least to the Sweet Sixteen. Brey is capable of doing it with this group.
1- John Calipari, Kentucky
John Calipari and Kentucky are the most posed team to win it all this year. Calipari had a great recruiting class and Kentucky has already beaten the No. 1 Michigan State. Calipari is LONG overdue for a championship and I think this is the year he gets it done! Because if not, at what point do you start to wonder. Now I know Kentucky would never fire him, nor should they but Cal is long overdue for a championship. For the first time in forever, Cal doesn’t have a consensus lottery pick that he is coaching this year. So with that said, and because Cal is a great coach, he will have to really play chess and because they are Kentucky, they have the players. Kentucky is my pick to win it all, as of right now.
John McCormack (Uncle_Mac4)