Originally Published: Jun 2, 2014

Top 50 College Hoops Coaches: Nos. 50-25

By |

Editor's note: Over the next five weeks, we will reveal the top 50 coaches in college basketball as decided by our ESPN Forecast panel. Today we unveil Nos. 50-25. On Tuesday, we release No. 24.

Which coaches are doing the best job right now?

We've been thinking about that question this offseason, looking for the best way to quantify the answer. Luckily, we've got ESPN Forecast. Last week, we asked a panel of nearly 100 ESPN writers, editors, broadcasters and researchers to rate college basketball coaches on all aspects of running a program, on a scale of 1-10. (The crucial distinction here is that the prompt was not career-oriented. This isn't about legacy. It's all about the present.) We compiled their scores and ranked the names, and now comes the fun part: The big reveal.

The list has plenty of obvious selections, but the panel also contains more than a few surprises -- and a few snubs. For the next five weeks, we'll count down the top 25. But today, we kick things off with Nos. 50-25. What wisdom does the crowd have to offer? Let's find out:

Tie: No. 50: Randy Bennett, Saint Mary'sSaint Mary; Scott Drew, Baylor

We used a tiebreak system to resolve all ties ... except for this one.

We just didn't have the heart to kick a coach out of the top 50 on a tiebreak. So Baylor's Scott Drew snuck in at 50, which, let's be clear, is way too low. Drew has often been the butt of jokes on Twitter for ostensibly doing too little with his talented teams, but he doesn't get enough credit for recruiting so well to Waco, Texas (which has had its most successful hoops decade ever under Drew after one of the worst scandals in college hoops history) in the first place.


Bennett, meanwhile, has elevated Saint Mary's to consistent tournament contention alongside rival Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference, even if 2013's recruiting violations and the subsequent four-year probation cast a shadow over that success.

No. 49: Richard Pitino, Minnesota


Someone made an impression in his first Big Ten season, huh? Richard Pitino, all of 31 years old, guided the Gophers to the NIT title in 2013-14, a strong finish to an encouraging first season. (And one that provided a shot of his father, Rick Pitino, screaming from courtside at one of his son's guards that the Gophers had no timeouts left, while former Louisville guard Peyton Siva sat beside him laughing. Dads are so embarrassing!)

No. 48: Stew Morrill, Utah State

Utah State

Since 1998, Morrill's steady hand has guided the Aggies' consistent mid-major success upward through the Big West, then the WAC, and now into the Mountain West, where Utah State and Morrill have their biggest audience yet.

No. 47: Bob Hoffman, Mercer


Hoffman has long been a respected member of the coaching fraternity. But it wasn't until March, when his Bears upset Duke (and potential No. 1 pick Jabari Parker) and Nay Nay'd their way into our hearts, that Hoffman crossed over into the mainstream.

No. 46: John Thompson III, Georgetown


A few years ago -- or, heck, even last summer -- Thompson would have surely ranked higher on this list. But the 2013-14 season was a frustrating step back. And even when Georgetown has been good, its propensity for early-round exits has left Hoyas fans grumbling.

No. 45: Mike Brey, Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Brey is a lot like Thompson: Save 2013-14, his teams are almost always good if not great, and almost always fall short of expectations in the tournament.

No. 44: Rick Barnes, Texas


Save Drew, no coach seems to get stuck with the dreaded "good recruiter, bad coach" label more than Barnes, which is pretty unfair, given that (a) recruiting is part of coaching and (b) Barnes' teams always defend. After a pair of down years, the Longhorns got back into top 25 territory for much of 2013-14, and their mix of returners and newcomers means they'll be back again next season.

No. 43: Chris Mack, Xavier


Mack has been steady at Xavier, missing the tournament just once in his four years. He did an especially nice job with a young team in 2013-14, but will have to replace NBA-bound sophomore guard Semaj Christon.

No. 42: Josh Pastner, Memphis


After a promising but occasionally rocky first few years in Memphis -- where fans are desperately hungry for John...