As I’ve mentioned countless times on the pod and in the blog, March is my favorite month. So as the calendar turns over to April, my favorite sporting event of the year is set to finish in the next week. March Madness has once given us some head scratching wins, some phenomenal story lines, and empty wallets due to countless lost bets.
Today, I’m going to quickly breakdown the coaching matchups and tell you what SHOULD happen next weekend if coaching was the only factor.
(1) Virginia: Tony Bennett vs. (5) Auburn: Bruce Pearl.
This one is tough because Tony Bennett is coming off a year where his #1 seeded Cavs lost to #16 seed UMBC. If you take a loss like that, you immediately lose all creditability in my book. For Auburn, Bruce Pearl just seems like a sleaze-ball and has already been punished for rules violations in his time with Tennessee. So basically I have to decide between a choke artist and a used car salesman. This situation has me leaning toward the guy that has done the most with the least. Pearl has the less talented team, yet still made it this far. Plus, Auburn has never been to a Final Four, so he’s playing with house money at this point. Give me Pearl in this matchup.
(2) Michigan State: Tom Izzo vs. (3) Texas Tech: Chris Beard
The mere fact that I had to look up who Texas Tech’s coach was, proves that Izzo has the clear advantage in this game. Literally the only two things I know about Chris Beard is that his name doesn’t match his face, and he coaches at Texas Tech. Conversely, Izzo is in his 8th Final Four of his career for Sparty and is poised to be playing next Monday in the ‘ship. And speaking of doing more with less, MSU has been plagued with injuries this year in a very tough Big Ten. Yet Izzo still has his team hoisting an overall Big Ten Championship banner, a Big Ten Tournament banner, a Final Four banner, and possibly more. Very impressive coaching job from the staff in East Lansing.
Conclusion: I think Izzo is the best of the remaining coaches. He has the most experience, his team has been through the most, and he just got done out-coaching Duke’s Coach K. Anytime you beat a coach that already has his name on his home floor- your confidence has to be sky high. If this Final Four came down to coaching alone, Michigan State will be sizing rings in mid-April.