This year’s Final Four features four teams that could come home to their respective campuses as national champions. These four teams are also led by four coaches who are looking to leave their very own distinct stamp on what has been a wild and crazy 2014 NCAA Tournament.
BO RYAN- Death. Taxes. Bo Ryan. One of the most consistent coaches out there today, Ryan finally got the “best active coach not to reach the Final Four” monkey off his back. In his 13 years at Wisconsin, Ryan’s teams have finished no worse than fourth in the Big Ten and have made the NCAA Tournament in every year. As for this year, these are not your Uncle’s Badgers. This squad has a more potent, high-scoring offense while still maintaining that stingy defense. It’s great that Wisconsin made the Final Four for the first time since 2000, but this team wants more. And Bo Ryan is just the guy to lead them into battle.
KEVIN OLLIE- With UConn back in the Final Four once again, Kevin Ollie has a tremendous job in his second year in Connecticut. Jim Calhoun built this program up to what it is today, and Ollie has simply taken over and ran with the Huskies. Can Ollie, a former journeyman NBA player, reach Calhoun status as a head coach? Only time will tell, but he is definitely headed in the right direction. Another national championship banner in Storrs, CT this season will help his cause as well.
JOHN CALIPARI- What is there to say about John Calipari that hasn’t been said already? Building up UMass, he left for a brief (but unsuccessful) stint with the New Jersey Nets, only to return to the college ranks at Memphis. Calipari then left for Kentucky, where he finds himself in the Final Four for the fifth time in his career (two of those appearances are vacated and not recognized by the NCAA). Master of the “one-and-done” talent, Calipari once again has a team loaded with players heading to the NBA. Will that translate to Kentucky’s second championship in three years? Time will tell.
BILLY DONOVAN- I’ll flat out say it: I consider Billy Donovan one of the most underrated coaches out there today. What Donovan has done in 18 years at Florida has been nothing short of amazing. Two national championships, four Final Four appearances, four SEC Tournament championships, six SEC regular season championships and a total of 450 wins in Gainesville. A third national championship and you would have to argue Donovan is one of the best coaches of all time. Oh and guess what? He’s not even 50 years old yet!
There you have it. The four coaches in this year’s Final Four looking to lead their respected team’s to a national championship. Four coaches with four different backgrounds and four different ways they go about business.
And these four are looking to be the last one standing cutting down the nets on Monday night.