Coaching Trends in March Madness

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Who can you trust?

Last year I revealed the way I evaluate coaches in respect to the tournament. Using the figures I've collected for those purposes, here are some things you should know about this year's bracket.

  • Steve Alford: He's made it past the first weekend once, in 1999 at Southwest Missouri State. He's done better than his seed implies (see link above) once, also 1999. You probably shoudn't put UCLA into the Sweet 16, but if you must, do not put it into the Elite Eight.
  • Rick Barnes: He matches his seed about as often as he fails to, but he's only outperformed his seed once: a Sweet 16 run as a 6-seed in 2002. In seven appearances as a 7-seed to 9-seed, he's won a first round game just once (2009, as a 7-seed). You should probably pick Texas to lose its first game, but certainly don't take the Longhorns past the Round of 32.

Result: Check.

  • John Beilein: He's outperformed his seed five times while matching it once and underperforming it once. Picking him to underperform (i.e. fail to make the Elite Eight) is not advised.
  • Jim Boeheim: If your instinct is to have sinking Syracuse go out early, trust it. Believe it or not, Boeheim has never made it past the first weekend more than twice in a row in 24 tournament appearances. His team got past the first weekend in 2012 and 2013, so he's due for an early exit.

Result: Dayton'd!

  • John Calipari: He's only had worse than a 4-seed twice, but both times (as a 7-seed both in 2003 and 2004), he didn't make it past the first weekend. It's not looking good for UK to get past Wichita State. He's also outperformed his seed just three times in 14 tournaments, and beating WSU would be outperforming.

Result: So much for that.

  • Jamie Dixon: He hasn't made it past the first weekend since 2009. He lost his first round game both prior times he's been on the 8/9 line. He's never outperformed his seed. Don't pick Pitt to upset Florida, and you probably shouldn't put it past Colorado either.

Result: Check.

  • Billy Donovan: In years when he's made it past the first weekend, he's never underperformed his seed. What that means is, you believe in trends, making it past Colorado or Pitt means UF will make the Final Four. Also, he's lost just once in the Sweet 16 (his first tournament in 1999) and never in the Round of 4. In other words, when he has time to prepare (and has made it past the first round, which he will), he doesn't lose. Finally, this is his third team with a regular season winning percentage above .800; the other two won national titles.
  • Mark Few: He hasn't made it past the first weekend since 2009, and he's only done it four times in 14 tournaments. Since Gonzaga's pair of surprise Sweet 16 runs in 2000-01, he's done it just twice and both times as a 4-seed or better. So, don't pick the Zags to upset Arizona.

Result: Check.

  • Steve Fisher: He's made it past the first weekend once without the Fab Five (2011, as a 2-seed). He's never outperformed his seed without the Fab Five. Don't put San Diego State past the Sweet 16, and maybe not even there.
  • Tom Izzo: He's failed to make it past the first weekend only as a 6-seed or worse. He's only failed to match his seed three times in 16 tournaments, so MSU is a fairly safe Sweet 16 pick. In seven tournaments as a 4-seed or better, he's made four Final Fours. In ten tournaments with a regular season winning percentage of .700 or better (current: .764), he's made six Final Fours. The Spartans are a trendy Final Four pick for good reason.
  • Lon Kruger: Since taking Florida to the Final Four in 1994, he's made it past the first weekend once (2007). I'll give him this though: as a 5-seed or better, he's never lost a first round game.

Result: He didn't even win his first game, but he didn't make it past the first weekend either.

  • Mike Krzyzewski: In 28 tournaments, he's failed to make it past the first weekend just seven times. Also 3-seeds are nearly undefeated since 1985 when playing in their home states, and Duke plays its first two games in Raleigh. At least a Sweet 16 run is probable.

Result: Mercer'd!.

  • Thad Matta: He's lost only once in the first round, as an 8-seed to a 9-seed. He's made it past the first weekend five times in seven tries as the Buckeyes' head coach, including his past four times.

Result: Oh well. The Buckeyes lost in the first game of the tournament to Dayton.

  • Sean Miller: His only first weekend losses have come as a 9-seed or worse. He's yet to underperform his seed in five opportunities to do so, matching once and bettering it four times. A match would be a Final Four and doing better would be a title game appearance. Do with that what you will, but the 'Cats are and should be the favorite in the West region.
  • Rick Pitino: With a regular season winning percentage of .800 or better (current: .853), he's made three Elite Eights and five Final Fours. Those five Final Fours include three championship game appearances and two national titles. He did lose in the second round with a .794 team in 1994, but that was 20 years ago. Put the Cardinals into at least the regional finals.
  • Bo Ryan: This is his fifth team with a regular season winning percentage of .750 or above; two of the previous lost in the Round of 32 and two lost in the Sweet 16. He's made it past the Sweet 16 just once, to the Elite Eight in 2005. Don't put the Badgers past the regional semis.
  • Bill Self: Since his infamous first round exits in 2005-06, he's failed to make it past the first weekend just once (2010). That is also the only time he's failed to make the Sweet 16 as a top-two seed in seven tries. Go ahead and advance the Jayhawks to at least that far.

Result: Oh well..

  • Roy Williams: He's never made it past the first weekend as worse than a 4-seed; he's 0-for-4 in trying. He's never lost a first round game, though, so put the Heels in the second round and no further.

Result: Precisely right.

  • Jay Wright: He hasn't made it past the first weekend since 2009. That said, he's 3-for-4 in making at least the Sweet 16 as a 5-seed or better.

Result: Not sure there was an actual prediction here.

I'll try to update this as the tournament goes to show which of these predictions were correct and which were wrong.

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