Published: 09:34 PM, Wed Mar 14, 2012
NCAA tournament: 5 coaches to watch
Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
First opponent: Virginia Commonwealth
Every year, there's that short list of coaches who seem to be the prime candidates for every big-name job that comes open. Marshall has been on that list for what seems like a decade. He took Winthrop to seven NCAA tournaments in nine years and has the Shockers (27-5) in the tournament for the first time in his five seasons as their coach. If he's going to make it past the first round, though, he'll have to get by another hot name in Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart, who took the Rams to the Final Four a year ago.
Rick Majerus, Saint Louis
First opponent: Memphis
During his 15 seasons at Utah, Majerus was an NCAA tournament fixture, making the field 10 times and coming one win from the title in 1998. But since leaving Salt Lake City, things haven't been quite as smooth. After three years without a head coaching gig, Majerus resurfaced at Saint Louis, where he's finally guided the Billikens (25-7) to an NCAA tournament bid in his fifth season. But he had a health scare earlier this month, when he was briefly hospitalized after a heart medication mix-up.
Jimmy Patsos, Loyola (Md.)
First opponent: Ohio State
With a love of the Grateful Dead, a fiery temper that left him coaching his team from the stands after a 2008 ejection and a willingness to take risks - he once decided to double team then-Davidson star Stephen Curry for an entire game, eventually losing by 30 - Loyola's Patsos has never been afraid to be different. A longtime assistant of Gary Williams at Maryland, Patsos has been coaching the Greyhounds (24-8) since 2004, overseeing a steady climb from a MAAC doormat to contender and, finally, NCAA-bound league champ.
Frank Haith, Missouri
First opponent: Norfolk State
When Haith bolted Miami for Missouri after last season, it looked like a simple case of a solid young coach leaving the top-heavy ACC for a better job. However, in August, the accusations of rogue booster Nevin Shapiro painted a picture of substantial rules violations in the Hurricanes' basketball and football programs. Haith, in particular, didn't come off looking so hot. So, with a talented team at Missouri (30-4) and his previous program's future uncertain, how Haith handles the March spotlight will be worth watching.
Greg McDermott, Creighton
First opponent: Alabama
In his two years at Creighton (28-5), Greg McDermott has led the Blue Jays to 51 wins and a Missouri Valley Conference title. That's thanks in no small part to his son, Doug McDermott, who was named the MVC's Player of the Year as a sophomore. The pair's relationship has been intriguing to watch - they had an on-court shouting match during a loss to Wichita State last month - but they'll have to be on the same page to get past a potential second-round matchup with the Midwest Region's top seed, North Carolina.