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NCAA Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year Candidates

Editor’s Note: Frank Woodford is a writer for TheRecruitScoop.Rivals.com; a part of the Yahoo! Sports Network, specializing in Southwest high school Basketball. Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankWoodford34

Dave Rice –  University of Nevada – Las Vegas

Are the UNVL Runnin’ Rebels back? The fan base and alumni sure hope so. Coach Dave Rice is back for his second season as head coach of the Rebels. Last season UNLV won 26 games and made the NCAA Tournament.

Dave Rice will be a strong candidate for NCAA Men’s Basketball Coach of The Year for a couple reasons. First, he welcomes back forward Mike Moser, the preseason conference player of the year.

Along with Moser come veteran guards Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins. UNLV will also get a boost from eligible transfers Bryce Jones and Khem Birch.

Perhaps the most important reason Coach Rice makes this list is because of his ability to recruit talent. The Rebels are bringing in a Top-10 recruiting class led by top fifty players Anthony Bennett and Katin Reinhardt. UNLV will also enjoy a relatively light schedule this season, aside from Cal, UNC and Oregon their non-conference schedule is very soft.

They will be challenged by Mountain West powers San Diego State, Colorado State and New Mexico, but overall the Runnin’ Rebels should enjoy a strong season and solid position going into the NCAA Tournament. If the Rebels win the games they are supposed to, the freshman are as good as advertised and there are no major injuries, Coach Dave Rice could bring home hardware at the end of the season.

 Tom Crean –  Indiana University

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Speaking of teams returning to grace, it is officially safe to say the Hoosiers are back. Indiana is the preseason number one ranked team, and with that Coach Tom Crean is the early favorite for coach of the year.

The Hoosiers won 27 games last year and made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. Indiana is returning four starters including the consensus Big Ten and National Player of The Year center Cody Zeller.

Indiana might be the deepest team in the country; Tom Crean will have the ability to go ten players deep this season. Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey and more are all back for another crack at the Final Four.

Lastly Indiana welcomes highly regarded freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell to the team, Ferrell is a lightning quick guard who should help Indiana play fast when Zeller is out of the game.

The number one ranked team will play one of the more difficult schedules in all of college basketball this season, but that will only help them come March.

Although they play North Carolina, their non-conference schedule will be a cake walk compared to the bruising play in the Big Ten.

With Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State ranked in the preseason Top-25, the Hoosiers will have a challenging conference schedule.

If Crean’s talented and deep group builds on last season’s success and Zeller becomes the player he can be, Crean will be the favorite for NCAA coach of the year.

Mark Gottfried –  North Carolina State University

Not many coaches can put a scare into North Carolina or Duke, second year Coach Mark Gottfried is getting about as close to that as any coach can.

North Carolina State won 24 games a season ago and made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, in large part to Gottfried and his staff.

The Wolfpack are returning four starters including ACC Preseason Player of The Year forward C.J. Leslie. Joining Leslie are Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood and Richard Howell, NC-State will also bring in ACC preseason freshman of the year Rodney Purvis.

(Top 5 Freshman of The Year Candidates)

Gottfried succeeded in surprising many people last year, but the real challenge comes this season when North Caroline State will have everyone’s full attention.

The Wolf Pack are ranked number six in the preseason polls and for only the second time in sixteen years a school not named Duke or North Carolina is picked to win the ACC.

If Gottfried and his team live up expectations and win the ACC, play well in the NCAA Tournament, Coach of The Year might not be the most prestigious award the second year coach brings home.

John Beilein – University of Michigan

What is not exciting about Michigan basketball these days?  The Wolverines won 24 games last season and finished tied for first in their conference.

Aside from Indiana, Coach John Beilein might have the deepest team in the country. Co-Big Ten freshman of the year Trey Burke is returning, as is Tim Hardaway Jr. Jon Horford and Jordan Morgan.

Plus Beilein brings in a strong recruiting class of Glenn Robinson Jr, Mitch McGary and Nik Staukas. Coach Beilein finds himself dealing with one of the best problems a coach can have, finding minutes for all of his talented players.

Michigan plays North Carolina State early in the season, then will be challenged by a very deep Big Ten Conference.

If Coach Beilein can blend his returning players and his strong freshman class the Wolverines could erase the memories of last season’s upset loss to Ohio in the first round of NCAA tournament.

Michigan is a team built for an NCAA Tournament run, they have the right mix of youth, experience, skill and size to be a tough match up for any team come March.

If the Wolverines find the right chemistry and flow they could reward their coach with national coach of the year honors.

Jim Christian – Ohio University

Ohio University has reason to be excited about basketball this season. The Bobcats are returning all five starters from last year’s surprise Sweet Sixteen team that upset Michigan, South Florida and finally lost to North Carolina in overtime.

Ohio will be led by first year coach Jim Christian who has experience in the conference; Christian was twice voted the Mid-American Conference Coach of The Year while at Kent State.

Christian has a chance to be voted Coach of The Year for several reasons. Ohio’s star guard D.J. Cooper skipped a chance at the NBA to return to school, with Cooper come his 15ppg and nearly 6ast per game. Ohio finished third in their conference last year, but is heavily favored to win it out right this season.

Along with Cooper, Ohio is returning Nick Kellog, Walter Offutt, Reggie Keely and Ivo Baltic. Christian comes into a great position and should see success from the start much in the same way as Frank Haith at Missouri last season.

Ohio has a tough schedule (Richmond, Memphis, Oakland, UMass and Oklahoma all before New Year’s), but if the team plays to its potential you will see Christian’s name on a good deal of Coach of the Year ballots come April.

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About frankwoodford34

My name is Frank Woodford and I work as a high school basketball beat writer for RecruitScoop.rivals.com; I also work as a private basketball trainer and volunteer with several local high school boys’ basketball programs. I enjoy enjoy the world of recruiting and writing, but my ultimate goal is to become a men's college basketball coach.

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4 Comments on “NCAA Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year Candidates”

  1. oli1989 Says:

    Hi sir,
    I really liked this post on the top NCAA basketball coaches. I am honored that you commented on Mark Gottfried putting a scare on Duke and Carolina. Now, I don’t want to be “that guy,” but as a Wolfpack fan I must say that NC State is “Wolfpack” and Nevada is “Wolf Pack.” Just saying. Just saying.

    Reply

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