College basketball is unique in that Hall of Fame accolades can be bestowed on coaches even as they’re actively roaming the sidelines, adding to their great legacies. In March of 2021, Jay Wright became the eighth active head coach to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but a lot has changed since then.
Bettors will often use a head coach as they weigh the factors that go into making college basketball picks and Wright often rewarded them. A year after his induction, however, Wright would retire, a decision that rocked and shocked the college landscape.
Roy Williams preceded Wright in stepping away, and Mike Krzyzewski bid adieu after more than 40 years as the head coach at Duke. Jim Calhoun returned to the hardwood after a six-year absence in 2018 but departed Division III St. Joseph (CT) at the end of 2021.
Bob Huggins finally got his call at the end of March 2022, so we’re back to six active head coaches with certified Hall-of-Fame credentials. The others include Jim Boeheim, John Calipari, Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino, and Bill Self. We are talking about some of the best of the best, several of whom still have plenty left in the tank.
So who’s next? Let’s make some college basketball predictions and take a look at several candidates who could get the call to the Hall before they put their whistles and clipboards down for good.
Mark Few, Gonzaga
Few already have more wins than Wright, and it will likely stay that way as Jay has seemingly closed the door on a return to the college game while leaving it slightly ajar for a foray into the NBA Streams.
Unlike Wright, however, Few has yet to notch a national championship on his resume. Will he need one? Debatable. The rest of his accolades read like a first-ballot candidate. Multiple-time Coach of the Year, leading the Bulldogs to many regular-season and WCC Tournament championships.
The only questions remaining are whether Gonzaga will join a more high-profile conference amidst all the realignment, and if Few can cut down the nets on the first Monday of April.
Rick Barnes, Tennessee
Barnes and Self may have the potential to do the most damage to the all-time wins list in the sport. Both are in the top 20, with a legitimate chance to climb as 800 is not out of the question for either.
Barnes has been a head coach at five different schools, Texas and Tennessee, most notably. He’s won 25 NCAA Tournament games and advanced to one Final Four. Another trip there could solidify his bid.
Dana Altman, Oregon
Altman may raise some eyebrows here, as, unfortunately, he’s fallen victim to the unwritten West Coast bias rule. Few may play on that side of the country, too, but the Pac-12 seems much more competitive than the WCC, and Gonzaga is head and shoulders above the rest of their conference foes.
Still, Altman is in the top 25 of all-time winningest head coaches. He’s been at Oregon since 2010, leading the Ducks to the Final Four in 2017 (their first appearance since 1939). Prior to that, he was in charge at Creighton for 16 seasons, winning six MVC Tournament Championships and two Coach of the Year honors.
Jim Larrañaga, Miami
Larrañaga will turn 73 during the upcoming season, having been a head coach since 1986. He could certainly jump into the top 25 of the winningest coaches of all time as he’ll enter the season in the top 30.
Larrañaga is most known for his memorable and improbable run to the 2006 Final Four with George Mason. He’d eventually parlay that into a high-profile gig with Miami, where he’s been since 2011. Under his guidance, the Hurricanes won the 2013 ACC Tournament (the first in program history) and advanced to the Sweet 16 during the NCAA Tournament.
Honorable mentions as you consider your college basketball picks today include Bruce Pearl, Scott Drew, Greg McDermott, Mick Cronin, Tony Bennett, Fran McCaffery, and Mike Brey.