Barring a miracle in the ACC Tournament, NC State coach Sidney Lowe will miss the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight season. His first year in Raleigh was probably his best – with Herb Sendek’s players – but Lowe’s 25-54 record in conference play heading into the regular season finale today is pathetic. He’s recruited well, but on-the-court, the results have been underwhelming. The buzz is that he’ll be fired after this season, even though he has two years remaining on his contract. If that happens, who’s getting the job?
Lowe has recruited extremely well – especially in the last two years. Lowe’s 2010 class had three Top 40 recruits, and the Wolfpack have two Top 150 players coming in next year. If he is fired (he nearly got the ax last April), the incoming coach – assuming nobody transfers and recruiting commitments are honored – will have an opportunity for immediate success.
The most popular name I’ve heard to replace Lowe is Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall. According to a source, two teams are already hot for Marshall and have been poking around his orbit to gauge interest: NC State and Arkansas (where John Pelphrey is on supposedly on thin ice).
Marshall has been on the rise for a few years, having succeeded at Winthrop (where he upset Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2007), and won 20+ games at Wichita State in the last two years (though they’ll miss the NCAA tournament this year after a loss Saturday to Indiana State).
Other names expected to be in the mix for the NC State job:
* Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, who has done a magnificent job with the Irish this year and could be in for a big payday (which NC State can make happen), especially if he has a nice NCAA tourney run. The Irish have six seniors (three are expected to return for a fifth year) and a very thin recruiting class coming in, which you can read any way you’d like. Brey, a former Duke assistant, was rumored to be a candidate for the NC State job in 2006.
* Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M. After a nice run at Wichita State, he’s gotten the Aggies to the second round of the NCAA tournament three years in a row. He’s got two Top 150 recruits coming in and his top two leading scorers return. Is NC State – where you’re third fiddle in state – really an upgrade? The Big 12 has been stronger than the ACC the last two years, at least by this metric.
* Cuonzo Martin of Missouri State will be the hot name in coaching circles this April. In his first three years as a head coach, the former Purdue guard has been nothing short of brilliant, guiding Missouri State its first MVC title. The Gene Keady coaching tree has already produced Bruce Weber, Steve Lavin, Kevin Stallings and Matt Painter, so Martin is in good company. The bonus here is that he’d come considerably cheaper than Brey and Turgeon.