The news that John Beilein left Michigan for the Cleveland Cavaliers this morning was stunning. It makes no sense that one of the best college coaches out there would go to an NBA team that has been completely and utterly hopeless for virtually its entire tenure except when they lucked into the second greatest player of all time. The Cavs are not going to win anything of consequence for a while, while Michigan has been in the hunt for a National Championship for quite a while now.
The good thing is that it makes Purdue’s job easier. Matt Painter has struggled with Tom Izzo over the years, going 17-26 the unquestioned top coach in the league since starting in 2005-06.
John Beilein seemed to have Purdue’s number in recent years. Painter is 10-12 against him, but has gone just 5-9 in recent years. Izzo, Painter, and Beilein were the only active coaches in the Big Ten with a Big Ten regular season or tournament title. The only other active coach in college basketball that can say that is Tom Crean. With Beilein out of the way Purdue definitely has one of the best coaches in the league, but who else stands out? Who else is a threat to join the club of winning a Big Ten title?
What the hell. It’s the offseason, so let’s rank them.
1. Tom Izzo – Michigan State – The king stays the king. He has nine B1G titles, 6 B1G tourney titles, and eight Final Fours. He will be in East Lansing until he no longer wants to be there and each year his team is on the short list of Final Four contenders. When the only chink in your armor is “He only has one national title” it is a good place to be.
2. Matt Painter – Purdue –Painter has three Big Ten titles and a conference tourney title, so the longevity and competitiveness is there. He has five Sweet 16 appearances (including three in a row) and finally had his breakthrough in that round this year. He also came literally as close to a Final Four as you can get without going. At age 48 he is still relatively young and has plenty of time to break through the next ceiling, as he is coming off of the best coaching job of his career. He is not at Izzo’s level (few are), but with him you know Purdue is most likely in the NCAA tourney each season and will be a contender in the Big Ten.
3. Mark Turgeon – Maryland –It feels like there is a huge dropoff after Izzo and Painter. I mean, is Turgeon really the third best coach in the league? In his five Big Ten seasons he has four NCAA bids and one Sweet 16. In his career he has a pair of Sweet 16s, with the first coming in 2007 with Wichita State when he also won the Missouri Valley Conference. I mean, at least that is a conference title of some sort. Maryland is a solid top 25 program under him, but has yet to make a ton of noise in the Big Ten.
4. Chris Holtmann – Ohio State –It is still a bit early on Holtmann, but his second year was a step back from his first. He did make a sweet 16 in his final season at Butler. Given what he inherited from Matta in Columbus he has a good base program in place. year three from him will be interesting.
5. Fred Hoiberg – Nebraska – Being a crappy NBA coach does not make one a great college coach. He won two conference tournaments for Iowa State in his last stretch and reached a Sweet 16, however.
6. Greg Gard – Wisconsin – Gard receives a negative for missing the tournament in 2017-18. It was the first time in two decades the Badgers were not in the NCAAs. He is still solid, but what will he do without Ethan Happ? He s definitely a step down from Bo Ryan.
7. Fran McCaffery – Iowa– FRAN MCCAFFERY IS ONLY SEVENTH IN THE CONFERENCE? WHAT KIND OF HORSESHIT IS THAT! HE WON THREE CONFERENCE TITLES AT SIENA?!?! BEING SEVENTH IS A (expletive) DISGRACE! I DRIVE A LEXUS!
8. Richard Pitino – Minnesota – Just when it looks like Pitino is going to get fired he turns things around and reaches the tournament. He won the NIT in his first year, then was 8-23 two years later. He followed that a year later with 24-10. His teams are either pretty good or abjectly terrible.
9. Archie Miller – Indiana –Miller made an Elite 8 and won two A-10 titles at Dayton and that is why Indiana is paying him $3.3 million a year. Since getting to Indiana he had two of the worst home losses in program history (IPFW and Indiana State each by 20+) and barely made the NIT with a lottery pick and an all-B1G post player.
10. Brad Underwood – Illinois –Underwood was excellent in three years at Stephen F. Austin, but has been awful in two years at Illinois. He is getting some decent talent in Champaign, but this is a real downtrodden program right now.
11. Chris Collins – Northwestern –Collins is the best coach in the history of Northwestern basketball because he actually made the tournament. Given their sorry history I am surprised he does not have a contact for life.
12. Steve Pikiell – Rutgers –Rutgers basketball might be the worst power conference program in the nation. That Pikiell has improved them to “semi-competent” from “laughably awful” is progress.
13. Pat Chambers – Penn State –Yes, Chambers has been at Penn State for 8 years and has yet to make the tournament. That is proof Penn State does not care about basketball.