Final Four Preview – Who are the Coaches

Texas Tech – Chris Beard

Chris Beard has a phenomenal 8-2 tournament record. He led Arkansas Little Rock to a first round win over Purdue in 2016 before taking the Texas Tech job. All he has done in Lubbock is advanced to back-to-back Elite 8 and now the school’s first Final Four. 2018 was the school’s first ever Elite 8 appearance.

The way Beard got the job is something. After the 2016 season, UNLV officially hired Beard as their head coach. Shortly after, Georgia Tech hired Josh Pastner from Memphis and Memphis hired then-Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith to replace Pastner. A $3 million/year contract was enough to lure the legendary coach. Tech filled their void by immediately poaching the newly-hired Beard. Beard is a Texas alum and has ties to Tech. Taking this job allowed him to be closer to his family.

Since that move, Memphis has already moved on from Smith, Georgia Tech might be a year away from firing Pastner and UNLV has already fired Marvin Menzies, the guy hired to replace Beard.

Amazingly, Texas Tech has a history of big name coaches. Since 2001 the list includes Bobby Knight, Billy Gillispie, and Tubby Smith.

Michigan State – Tom Izzo

Izzo is by far and away the most accomplished coach on this list. He has been at Michigan State since 1995 and has led Michigan State to the NCAA Tournament for 22 straight years. 2019 will be his 8th Final Four appearance. He has 1 National Championship (2000) and was runner up in 2009. Tom Crean is the most notable member of Izzo’s coaching tree, working alongside him from 1995-1999 before taking his first head job at Marquette.

Michigan State was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2016, won AP Coach of the Year award in 2008

Auburn – Bruce Pearl

Pearl has led Auburn to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, following a 14 year drought (2004 through 2017). Pearl got his D1 start at University of Milwaukee and coached the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament in 2 of his final 3 years, including the Sweet 16 in 2005. Pearl parlayed that Sweet 16 run into the Tennessee job.

He led the Vols to the Tournament in each of his 6 seasons in Knoxville, but NCAA violations led to his dismissal in 2011. He resurfaced at Auburn in 2014.

From 2014-2017, Pearl and Auburn went 44-54, including a 16-38 record in SEC play. But over the last two years, Auburn has gone 56-15, including winning the SEC Tournament Championship in 2019, to go along with the school’s first Final Four.

Virginia – Tony Bennett

Bennett’s father, Dick Bennett, is a long time coaching legend. Tony replaced him at Washington State in 2006 and went 69-33 in 3 years in Pullman. Since his departure in 2009, Washington State has not made the NCAA Tournament.

Bennett has won 74% of his games at Virginia, since his arrival at the start of the 2009-10 season. Including 2019, he has led the Cavs to the NCAA Tournament 7 times and prior to this season UVA advanced to the second weekend just twice, getting as far as the Elite 8 once, in 2016.

For more sports takes, follow me on twitter @msschneid or instagram @mikedropsports

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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