The 2017 Final Four features three coaches making their first appearance. Mark Few would have held the title of “best coach not to reach a Final Four” prior to this year, while Dana Altman would have also been on the short list after stints at Kansas State, Creighton, and now at Oregon. Frank Martin made some runs with Kansas State as well that fell short, and has now made it with South Carolina.
So who are the coaches who will hope to get off this list next year? Looking at wins, tournament appearances, and tournament results, here are the candidates for Best Coach Yet to Reach a Final Four.
#10 Jamie Dixon
Dixon had a run at Pittsburgh from 2008 to 2011 where he was a top 4 seed every year, but came up just short, often in painful fashion. The closest he came was in 2009, when Scottie Reynolds went the length of the court in the final seconds of the Elite Eight game. Dixon moved to TCU before this season, and the Horned Frogs just missed the NCAA Tournament in his first year, and then won the NIT.
#9 Mark Turgeon
Turgeon has taken three different schools to the NCAA Tournament, turning around the Wichita State program and getting them to the Sweet 16 in 2006. After a stint at Texas A&M, he has had Maryland in the tournament three straight years since joining the Big Ten. The closest Turgeon came was probably that Wichita State run, when they lost to fellow Cinderella George Mason.
#8 Steve Alford
Alford had some notorious flameouts in the tournament, with both Iowa and New Mexico. He still makes this list because he has averaged over 25 wins a season over the last decade. UCLA has reached (and lost in) the Sweet 16 in all three of their tournament appearances with Alford.
#7 Archie Miller
Miller is moving from Dayton to Indiana, and success should follow. He’s had Dayton in the NCAA Tournament each of the last four seasons, averaging 25.5 wins over that span. In 2014, Dayton went on a run all the way to the Elite Eight. Expect more in his future.
#6 Mick Cronin
Cronin has worked his way through the coaching ranks, going from high school to video coordinator under Bob Huggins, to assistant, to Murray State. He took the Racers to two tournaments in three years before returning to Cincinnati a year after Bob Huggins was fired. Cronin had some rebuilding years, but over the last seven years, Cincinnati has consistently been a Top 30 program. Cronin has only gotten past the second round once, so far.