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2011 NCAA Tournament: The Coaches of March

When it comes to March Madness, many people like to base their picks off of the coaches of the various teams. "Can you imagine Mike Krzyzewski being outcoached by Rick Barnes? There's no way Texas is beating Duke!" And so on.

But how good exactly are these coaches in March? One way to measure it is by looking at how they did relative to their seeding. After all, the numerical seedings indicate what round teams "should" get to.

A 9-seed through 16-seed would be expected to lose in the first round by seeding alone. A 5-seed through 8-seed would be expected to lose in the second round. A 3-seed or 4-seed should lose in the Sweet 16. A 2-seed should lose in the Elite 8. 1-seeds should get to the Final Four, where anything after that is gravy.

Granted this is a very limited view of how coaches perform in the tournament and leaves out important things like matchups, actual seeds faced, and the like. Still, it's a fun way to compare coaches this time of year.


Coach Under Match Over
Thad Matta 4 1 3
Bill Self 6 2 4
Jamie Dixon 3 4 0
Mike Krzyzewski 12 2 11


What's interesting to me with these guys is that with all but Dixon, there's a pattern of them going over or under more often than matching their exact seeding expectation. With Dixon, he's catching up to his matches with his underachieving. His first four years in the tournament all matched expectations; in the last three, he's come up short.


Coach Under Match Over
Roy Williams 7 8 5
Mike Brey 2 5 1
Billy Donovan 5 1 4
Steve Fisher 2 4 3


Roy Williams has turned things around in his second decade of coaching in the tournament. Five of his seven underperforming years were in his first 10 years, while three of his five overperforming tournaments have come in the last ten years. Fisher has done nothing but match in his three tournaments at San Diego State: three 11-seeds or worse, and three first round bow-outs. Last year was actually the first time Billy Donovan matched his seed expectation, bowing out in the first round as a 10-seed. Yes, that makes five straight underperforming seasons between the 2000 and the 2006 Final Fours.


Coach Under Match Over
Jim Boeheim 8 8 5
Matt Painter 0 3 2
Dave Rose 3 1 0
Jim Calhoun 6 7 5


Painter and Rose don't have much experience, but they have about opposite track record. Of course, Rose's three underperforming tournaments were all as 8-seeds losing in the first round. Boeheim and Calhoun meanwhile have been around forever, and they have a random array of performances.


Coach Under Match Over
John Calipari 6 5 1
Rick Pitino 4 5 5
Bo Ryan 2 4 3
Rick Barnes 7 10 1


Be careful about putting Kentucky and Texas past the Sweet 16. Calipari and Barnes haven't exactly been good at overperforming their seeding. Barnes did it in 2002, going to the Sweet 16 as a 6-seed; Calipari did it in 2008, going to the championship game as a 1-seed.


Coach Under Match Over
Mike Anderson 0 1 4
Bob Huggins 9 5 4
Tom Izzo 2 4 7
Bruce Pearl 2 2 3
Lorenzo Romar 3 1 2
Kevin Stallings 2 1 3
Jay Wright 2 3 3


As you can see, a lot of the younger guys don't have real patterns established yet. Anderson has done quite well, overperforming his seed twice each at UAB and Missouri. Huggins is known as a serial underperformer, and the numbers bear that out. In fact, he's only been out of the first weekend five times in 18 tournaments (29%). Izzo is known as a great March coach, and the numbers bear that out too.