Ranking Sweet 16 coaches by pressure 

March, 23, 2015
Mar 23
Rick PitinoJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesRick Pitino and John Calipari face major expectations as their respective teams play in the Sweet 16.
If the face of college basketball is its coaches, this Sweet 16 will look very familiar to viewers. Three Hall of Famers -- Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and North Carolina’s Roy Williams -- are among the 16, along with at least four more probable inductees (John Calipari, Bob Huggins, Tom Izzo and Bo Ryan). Beyond those seven are two more (Gregg Marshall and Lon Kruger) who have taken teams to the Final Four; one who’s approaching the top 25 in active wins (Mark Few), and five others who have taken multiple teams to the Big Dance (Steve Alford, Mike Brey, Mark Gottfried, Larry Krystkowiak and Sean Miller). Then there's Xavier’s Chris Mack, who has the Musketeers playing in the second weekend for the third time in six years. But with big names come big expectations. Who’s under the most pressure during the next two weekends? Let’s count them down, from those facing the least pressure to those facing the most: 16. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State Shockers Wichita State Final Fours/national titles: 2/0 Marshall Final Fours/national titles: 1/0 Pressure and expectations: The guy can do whatever he wants in Wichita. He’s the king of the city, and rightfully so. He went to the Final Four a couple of years ago, went into the NCAA tourney unbeaten last season and just got done knocking off Kansas to advance to the Sweet 16. It’s all gravy now.
Okafor/KaminskyGetty ImagesDuke's Jahlil Okafor and Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky were two of the nation's top players in 2014-15.
Usually I try to pick an All-American team with two guards, two forwards and a center. But the days of pigeonholing guys into distinct positions are over, so I’ve opted to pick the five best players for my All-American Team this season.

It wasn’t that difficult. What was tough was trying to pick the national coach of the year. It’s not easy to pass on a coach who is chasing history, but I wound up going with Virginia’s Tony Bennett -- who won the ACC (over national powers Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Syracuse) for the second consecutive season.

Here are my picks for the other major college hoops awards along with All-American first- and second-team selections.

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The four No. 1 seeds -- next year 

March, 9, 2015
Mar 9
Tyler UlisJeff Blake/USA TODAY SportsKentucky's Tyler Ulis is expected to return and lead a new group of talented freshmen next season.
As the speculation draws closer about who will join Kentucky as a No. 1 seed when the NCAA men's tournament bracket is unveiled Sunday evening, it’s never too early to start looking to the future -- and who will be fighting for top seeds in 2016.

It’s not quite so easy with the uncertainty of who is leaving for the NBA draft, and also because eight of the top dozen recruits still haven’t announced their intentions on where they will play.

However, here’s our best stab at who winds up getting the No. 1 seeds, and also who earns Nos. 2-4, a year from now.

No. 1s

Kentucky Wildcats

It doesn’t matter who stays and leaves anymore. John Calipari just flat-out reloads and has more talent than everyone else. Look for Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns to leave for the NBA draft. Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson and the Harrison twins all could join them. But my guess is that a couple of those guys (i.e., Johnson and Andrew and Aaron Harrison) will come back, and stay with Tyler Ulis, Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee.

Calipari has three guys signed for next season in skilled forward Skal Labissiere, point guard Isaiah Briscoe and wing Charles Matthews.

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Steve LavinAnthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsSt. John's has been two different teams this season.
They are the high-risk, high-reward teams. You know the ones. They scare the daylights out of you in the NCAA tournament because you never quite know what to expect. You wouldn’t be shocked if they lose by double digits in their first game of the tourney, and it wouldn’t surprise you if any of them got through the first weekend and earned a trip to the Sweet 16.

Most of those on the list below (not all) have underachieved as it pertains to their overall talent. Most (not all) will sneak into the field, when they should have coasted.

Many will dismiss their staying power, and some will peg them for a deep run, but when evaluating the teams below, do so with caution.

NC State Wolfpack (18-12, 9-8 ACC)

Current Bracket Standing: No. 9 seed
BPI: 40
KenPom: 41

Good luck trying to figure out the Wolfpack. Not even coach Mark Gottfried has a clue about what this team will do from game to game.

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Tyler HarveyMichael Hickey/Getty ImagesTyler Harvey, the nation's leading scorer, didn't have a scholarship offer coming out of high school.
Elfrid Payton was drafted No. 10 overall last year out of Louisiana-Lafayette. Two years ago, it was Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum who was taken in the NBA lottery out of the Patriot League. Guys like Damian Lillard out of Weber State (Big Sky) and Kenneth Faried from Morehead State (Ohio Valley) were also recent first-rounders who played at small-league schools.

Plenty of talent will be on display over the next couple of weeks in the smaller league tournaments. Here’s a list of a dozen guys you need to watch. They aren’t all necessarily going to be drafted, but they are guys worth a look.

1. Tyler Harvey, 6-4, SG, Jr., Eastern Washington Eagles

Key stats: 22.7 PPG, 44 percent 3-pointers
Conference: Big Sky (March 12-14)
NBA comparison: Vinnie Johnson

A guy who didn’t have a single college athletic scholarship offer out of high school is now the leading scorer in the country. Harvey is also one of the elite shooters in the nation and has shot better than 43 percent from 3-point range in each of his three seasons.

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Coaches poll: Should TO rules change? 

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
Gregg MarshallAP Photo/Stephen Lance DenneeTimeouts are an important part of college hoops strategy -- but are there too many?
Nobody understands how painfully long the final minutes of college basketball games have become better than my 11-year-old daughter. There's a minute left on the game clock when I tell her I'll be right up to say goodnight.

By the time the horn finally sounds, 20 minutes and multiple timeouts later, she has already fallen asleep.

College basketball has eight automatic timeouts built into the game, and that's before any coach makes the unmistakable "T" sign with his hands. There are four media timeouts (at the under-16, -12, -8 and -4 minute marks) in each half. The first time a coach calls a timeout in the second half -- whether it comes at the 19:50 mark or the 2:00 mark -- it becomes a full media timeout. That's nine 60-second timeouts that are basically automatic in every game. Each team gets one 60-second timeout and four 30-second timeouts per game, and can carry over a maximum of three 30-second timeouts into the second half, which creates a "use it or lose it" timeout in the first half (many coaches use it). Do the math and that's 18 possible timeouts in a 40-minute game that (theoretically) unfolds in two hours of real time. Does that seem like a lot to you?

Many pundits and fans have lamented the timeout situation, but what can be done? Are there alterations that make sense, can improve the watchability of those final moments while also preserving the on-floor strategy that coaches hold dear?

We polled more than 260 college coaches -- the people who are going to have to set the wheels in motion if there are fixes to be made -- to get their take on the situation. Their thoughts about reform to timeout rules were all over the map:

Keep the timeout rules status quo -- 117 votes (45 percent)

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Self will go down as Kansas' best coach 

February, 23, 2015
Feb 23
Bill SelfJamie Squire/Getty ImagesBill Self boasts a .824 winning percentage as head coach at Kansas.
As Kansas nears yet another Big 12 regular-season title with Bill Self at the helm, it’s an ideal time to debate whether the 52-year-old head coach can lay claim to the title of best Kansas coach of all time.

At first I scoffed at the notion. How could Self -- who has won only one national title and boasts a pair of Final Four appearances -- be considered the best coach in Kansas' history? However, a closer look shows one can make a valid case that Self already has passed his predecessor, Roy Williams, and stacks up against legendary Phog Allen.

Let's start with The Streak.

Since Self's first season in Lawrence, when Kansas finished second in the Big 12 to Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks have won at least a share of the regular-season crown each and every year. That’s 10 years running -- with an 11th likely unless KU blows a one-game advantage over Iowa State with four games remaining.

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Will Carolina ever be Carolina again? 

February, 19, 2015
Feb 19
Roy WilliamsAP Photo/Gerry BroomeDoes North Carolina have another title run in it under Roy Williams?
DURHAM, N.C. -- North Carolina fans are a lot like Kentucky and Kansas fans. UNC's supporter base isn't content with just getting into the NCAA tournament, or even with reaching the second weekend.

They want national championships. They expect Final Four appearances.

But even in the shadow of Wednesday night's loss to Duke -- in which the Tar Heels looked like the better team for much of the game -- the chances are beginning to look more and more remote that UNC will hang banners in the Roy Williams Era. For the third straight season, the Heels are not going to finish first or second in the ACC. For the third straight season, barring an unlikely run of consistency over the next month, North Carolina (18-8) will finish with double-digit losses. Not since Frank McGuire struggled at the beginning of his tenure in the mid-1950's has a single UNC coach presided over three consecutive seasons of 10 or more losses.

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20 predictions for season's final stretch 

February, 16, 2015
Feb 16
Kentucky WildcatsMichael Hickey/Getty ImagesDakari Johnson, Devin Booker, Marcus Lee and Kentucky are likely to run the table in the SEC.
It’s time to predict what will happen between now and the NCAA tournament. Will Gonzaga get a No. 1 seed? Will Kentucky run the table? Which mid-major will go undefeated in its league and be primed for an upset in the NCAA tournament?

Here are 20 things that will occur between now and Selection Sunday.

1. Kentucky will run the table and enter the NCAA tournament without a blemish. I didn’t see this happening prior to the start of the season, but I also didn’t see the SEC, and Florida in particular, being this lackluster. The Wildcats have been terrific, but in in their quest to remain unbeaten, they have benefited from playing in a mediocre league.

2. Virginia will falter a bit down the stretch, get Justin Anderson back for the ACC tournament, and still earn a No. 1 seed.

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Coaches support a shorter shot clock 

February, 12, 2015
Feb 12
SelfDenny Medley/USA TODAY SportsKansas' Bill Self is among the coaches who would prefer a 30-second shot clock.
The NBA has had a 24-second shot clock since the 1950s. Women’s college basketball currently has a 30-second shot clock. Yet the men’s college game still has a 35-second shot clock, as it has since 1993, when it went from 45 seconds to 35.

However, with scoring dropping again (the national average is 67.78 points per game, down nearly four points from a season ago), the shot clock continues to be a hot-button topic. The NCAA has decided to experiment with a 30-second shot clock, along with a 4-foot restricted arc, in the NIT this season.

“It will add to the number of possessions per game, but we don’t know exactly how many,” NCAA vice president of men’s basketball championships Dan Gavitt told me. “And we think it may help the pace of play and the flow of the game.”

We polled more than 450 college basketball coaches on whether they want the shot clock to remain the same or be changed. Division I coaches of all varieties -- high-major, mid-major and low-major head coaches, as well as assistants -- weighed in.

Here are the results:

30-second clock

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 Virginia CavaliersPatrick McDermott/Getty ImagesJustin Anderson, UVa's leading scorer at 13.4 points per game, is out with a fractured finger.
When Virginia’s Justin Anderson suffered a broken pinkie on his shooting hand during the Cavaliers’ win against Louisville on Saturday, there was a school of thought that said "Don't overreact."

That line of thinking: Virginia will be fine. The Cavs don’t do it with one player -- they do it with depth, with balance. Their brilliant coach, Tony Bennett, will find a way to win enough games down the stretch to maintain a grasp on a No. 1 overall seed. Virginia is already through the majority of this brutal four-game stretch with wins at North Carolina and at home against the Cardinals, and a close loss in Charlottesville to Duke.

But then there’s the camp that believed that this could, in fact, not only hinder Virginia’s chances to land a top seed but also might alter the fortune of the Cavs in the NCAA tournament. Anderson went into the Louisville game as the team’s leading scorer, shooting 48 percent from the field, 48 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent from the charity stripe. Then toss in the fact that he’s the most athletic player on the team and also its best perimeter defender.

With Anderson out of the lineup for about the next four to six weeks and the timing of his return still unclear (it could be the end of the regular season, the ACC tournament or the NCAA tourney), guys like Evan Nolte, Marial Shayok and Devon Hall will likely see increased roles.

We reached out to a number of coaches who have played Virginia this year for their thoughts on how Anderson’s injury could alter the Cavs.

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Duke/Notre DameAP Photo/Joe RaymondWill Tyus Jones and Duke get revenge on Demetrius Jackson and Notre Dame on Feb. 7?
The 2014-15 college hoops season has already featured a number of marquee matchups. Kentucky crushed Kansas and took care of Louisville on the road. Duke beat Wisconsin in Madison. Arizona knocked off Gonzaga in Tucson, and Kansas and Iowa State split their season series.

However, there are still plenty of “can’t-miss” matchups before we hit March Madness, whether it’s a pair of rivals meeting, a game that could determine a regular-season title or a matchup that could stand in the way of history.

Here are the 20 games you need to circle on the calendar over the next month or so (listed in chronological order).

*All times Eastern

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Duke Blue Devils
Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. (CBS)

The first matchup was exciting, as Jerian Grant helped give the Irish the win in South Bend. These are two entertaining, offensive-minded teams and both are capable of making a Final Four run.

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Kevin OllieRobert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsKevin Ollie will need more production from Ryan Boatright and the Huskies backcourt.
As of today, the NIT could have quite a field of storied programs and Hall of Fame coaches. Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators, Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange and the defending national champion Connecticut Huskies are all on the wrong side of the bubble at this point.

Below we take a look at 13 teams that have either taken a dip this season or failed to live up to expectations and talk to coaches regarding the reasons why they are struggling. We're not saying all these are NIT teams, but the potential is there if they can't get things fixed.

Connecticut Huskies (11-9, 4-4 American)

• Missing a stretch 4 (a la Niels Giffey or DeAndre Daniels)
• Need another ball handler to help Ryan Boatright
• Don’t shoot well enough from the perimeter
• No inside play
• Don’t make the extra pass (selfish)
• Leadership lacking

Can they make the tournament? Coaches' quotes:

“Don’t count them out. They believe in Kevin Ollie.”

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Colleagues pick Coach of the Year 

January, 29, 2015
Jan 29
Calipari/Bennett/FewGetty ImagesJohn Calipari, Tony Bennett and Mark Few were popular picks as the nation's top coach.
The national coach of the year race is always a tough one to figure. Some, like myself, commonly opt to go with a guy who has done more with less. Others tend to go with the coach of the top team in the country.

At this point in time, it’s a fairly easy call.

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10 coaches on the hot seat 

January, 26, 2015
Jan 26
Donnie TyndallTommy Gilligan/Getty ImagesDue to NCAA issues, Donnie Tyndall's status at Tennessee could already be in peril.
Once you are on the dreaded hot seat, there are usually only a few ways off. Below we give you 10 coaches who need to finish strong to make certain they don't end up on the chopping block, and three who have managed to quiet the hot seat talk via different methods.

Coaches on the hot seat, Part I (NCAA and off-court issues)

1. Donnie Tyndall, Tennessee Volunteers

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