The NCAA Tournament can bring out both the best and a lot of times worst in otherwise relatively successful college basketball head coaches.
While the term “worst” is subjective and can skew towards a multitude of negative characteristics about a coach, for this list we’ll lean more towards underachieving and talk about a few coaches in this field whose past NCAA Tournament resume leaves a lot more to be desired.
Rick Barnes, Tennessee
Barnes sports a 24-25 record in NCAA Tournament contests, which is underwhelming considering the talent he managed to land during stints at Texas and Tennessee. The longtime coach has made one Final Four but that’s hardly an accomplishment when you consider the resources applied. Tennessee enters the 2022 bracket as a No. 3 seed after winning the SEC conference tournament and gets a matchup with No. 14 Longwood. Barnes could be on upset alert right out of the gate, as the Lancers are coming into the tournament on a nice winning run.
Jim Larranaga, Miami
After making a Sweet 16 run in his second season in Coral Gables, Larranaga has not been able to find much success. He has flamed out hilariously in his last two tournament appearances with the Hurricanes, who have somehow landed a No. 10 seed despite having three Quad 3 losses. Miami is ranked 62nd in KenPom overall and Larranaga’s group seems destined for another round of 64 defeat after being paired with No. 7 USC.
But before he went south literally and figuratively, let’s not forget Larranaga also once took George Mason to the Final Four in 2006, the first modern coach from a mid-major program to reach the national semifinals. That’s something that will always stand out on his resume.
Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
Given the limitations of the job, Willard has done passable work with Seton Hall. The Pirates have become regular tournament contenders, which is something a lot of Power 5 schools wish they could say. But Willard hasn’t done much to take the next step, his teams have not advanced to the Sweet 16, and it doesn’t look like this year is going to be any different given Seton Hall’s potential path there. The Pirates had close shaves against Georgetown three times this year, while also losing to DePaul and St. John’s.
Fran McCaffery, Iowa
Like Willard, McCaffery has turned Iowa into a tournament regular and that’s a nice accomplishment. When it comes to the NCAA Tournament though, this resume is not fun for fans. McCaffery has never made a Sweet 16 despite having some good chances to do so. The Hawkeyes seemed destined for an Elite Eight appearance last year only to have the wheels fall out in the round of 32. Iowa ranks 13th in KenPom overall, so this could be the year McCaffery finally gets a nice tournament run.