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Changes in 2023 College Basketball Coaching Tiers: Dan Hurley Ascends to Tier 1, while John Calipari Slips Down

In a sport with 362 teams, attempting to rank the hierarchy of coaches is a challenging task. However, in Year 2 of The Athletic’s Men’s Basketball Coaching Tiers, we aim to break down coaches into tiers based on their qualifications and input from authorities in the basketball community.

The criteria for inclusion in these tiers include coaches from major conferences like ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC. Additionally, coaches from non-power conferences who have led their teams to the NCAA Tournament in the last three seasons are included. Coaches leading programs currently ranked in KenPom’s top 100 program rating are also considered. Each coach must have coached a full season at the Division I level and be an active Division I coach.

It’s important to note that these tiers are subjective and based on opinions, familiarity, and a degree of recency bias. We consulted with various individuals, including former players, coaches, analysts, and administrators, to shape these tiers.

Tier 1 consists of the best coaches in college basketball, including Tony Bennett, Scott Drew, Mark Few, Dan Hurley, Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino, Kelvin Sampson, and Bill Self. While there were discussions about placing Bill Self and Rick Pitino in a tier of their own, we decided to include them in Tier 1 along with the other coaches who are consistently successful.

Tony Bennett’s place in Tier 1 is starting to come into question due to recent struggles, including a lack of NCAA Tournament success. Dan Hurley’s success in the NCAA Tournament propelled him to Tier 1, despite his previous limited accomplishments. We believe he has the potential for long-term success.

Tier 2 includes coaches like Rick Barnes, Randy Bennett, John Calipari, Ed Cooley, Mick Cronin, Brian Dutcher, Jim Larrañaga, Greg McDermott, Sean Miller, Eric Musselman, Nate Oats, Matt Painter, Bruce Pearl, and Shaka Smart. John Calipari’s inclusion in Tier 2 sparked debates, as he is the only coach with a national championship not in Tier 1. Kentucky’s lack of success in recent years contributed to this decision.

The inclusion of new coaches like Shaka Smart, Greg McDermott, Nate Oats, Brian Dutcher, Jim Larrañaga, and Randy Bennett in Tier 2 reflects the transient nature of this tier.


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