College Basketball Coach of the Year Odds and Prediction
by Alan Matthews - 2/23/2012
With the college basketball regular season in its final days, the books are starting to roll out props for major postseason awards. I looked at the National Player of the Year here at Doc’s a few weeks ago (recommended Kentucky’s Anthony Davis), so today let’s look at the Coach of the Year odds at Bovada. I am presuming this is for the AP award, which usually is announced at the Final Four.
I can assure you there won’t be a repeat winner. Notre Dame’s Mike Brey won it last year, and while the Fighting Irish are surging, having won nine games in a row entering this weekend, Brey’s not going to repeat, although he is the fourth favorite at 8/1. No coach has won the award in back-to-back seasons since Oregon State’s Ralph Miller in 1981 and 1982.
When looking at the odds, you probably want to favor a coach from a BCS conference team. Since the turn of the century, only two non-BCS coaches have won this award: Phil Martelli of St. Joseph’s in 2004 (the year the Hawks were unbeaten and No. 1 in the nation entering their conference tournament) and Keno Davis of Drake in 2008. Davis used that platform to leave Drake after just one season as head coach for Providence but was fired last year.
The Bovada favorite this year is Missouri’s Frank Haith at 5/2 and it’s hard to argue with that. The University of Miami was more than happy to let Haith go this past offseason amid rumors the Canes were going to fire him anyway. And Haith wasn’t exactly Missouri’s top choice and his hiring didn’t exactly instill excitement in the fan base. But with a veteran team back, the Tigers are 25-3 and a game behind Kansas in the Big 12 – the Jayhawks and Mizzou play the final regular-season Border War game on Saturday with Missouri off to the SEC. It’s one of the biggest regular-season games ever between the rivals. The Tigers beat Kansas earlier this year in Columbia. If Missouri does beat Kansas again and wins the Big 12 title, this award is Haith’s to lose.
Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is next at 7/2. Sparty was largely picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten this year behind Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan and entered the season in a strange position: unranked. Things looked grim for MSU after starting the season with back-to-back losses to North Carolina and Duke, but the Spartans have gone 23-3 since then and lead the Big Ten by a game over Ohio State and Michigan. Izzo was the AP Coach of the Year back in 1998. The Big Ten is the nation’s best conference this year, so if the Spartans win the regular season and conference tournament titles (I think Missouri loses at Kansas and thus won’t win Big 12), Izzo probably wins this award and deservedly so.
John Calipari seems to rub many people the wrong way – that’s the only reason I can think of as to why Coach Cal has never been the AP Coach of the Year despite his success at UMass, Memphis and now Kentucky. Calipari is the third-favorite at 5/1. The thing working against Calipari is that UK was supposed to be good because of one of the most talented freshman classes in NCAA history. But shouldn’t voters also account for recruiting prowess in this award?
I mentioned Brey was the fourth-favorite above, and No. 5 is Murray State’s Steve Prohm at 10/1. I think this guy would have won the award hands down if the Racers had run the table in the regular season. Unfortunately, that one loss to Tennessee State might cost Prohm his shot. Still, Prohm is deserving as Murray State, apart from winning the Ohio Valley title, has beaten other likely conference champions and NCAA Tournament teams in Harvard (Ivy), Memphis and Southern Miss (Conference USA), and Saint Mary’s (West Coast Conference). If Murray State doesn’t lose another game before the Big Dance and MSU and Missouri each lose twice by then (very possible), this award could go to Prohm. So I would say he’s the best value on the board.
Here are the other options:
Steve Fisher (San Diego State Aztecs) 14/1
Jim Boeheim (Syracuse Orange) 15/1
Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State Cyclones) 24/1
Randy Bennett (St. Mary's Gaels) 28/1
Rick Majerus (St. Louis Billikens) 28/1
Mick Cronin (Cincinnati Bearcats) 30/1
Tommy Amaker (Harvard Crimson) 30/1
Tony Bennett (Virginia Cavaliers) 30/1
Tom Crean (Indiana Hoosiers) 40/1
Thad Matta (Ohio State Buckeyes) 40/1
Dave Rice (UNLV Rebels) 50/1
Dan Monson (Long Beach State 49ers) 50/1
Tim Cluess (Iona Gaels) 50/1
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