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45 Days to B1G Basketball: Athlon Sports Ranks the Big Ten Coaches

Athlon Sports tries to rank a conference full of strong coaches.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

As the season draws near, with practice set to begin this upcoming weekend, preseason lists, rankings and polls become one of the more common stories until the games begin. While we usually see preseason polls, power rankings, position rankings, etc., Athlon Sports switched things up a bit recently when they decided to rank all 14 of the Big Ten Coaches.

You can read their rankings and reasoning on their website, or check out the list below:

  1. Tom Izzo
  2. Bo Ryan
  3. John Beilein
  4. Thad Matta
  5. Mark Turgeon
  6. Fran McCaffery
  7. Tom Crean
  8. Matt Painter
  9. Tim Miles
  10. John Groce
  11. Richard Pitino
  12. Chris Collins
  13. Pat Chambers
  14. Eddie Jordan
When it comes to college basketball, coaching is of the utmost importance. Besides the need for a good coach to help win games, the nature of collegiate sports means a coach also has to continuously recruit top level talent while helping teenagers balance the sudden increase in exposure, full-time job of being a student and of course, a lot of practice and basketball. That's why you'll see even some of the better coaches flame out due to controversy, recruiting violations and other off-the-court issues that negate their ability to coach their teams. Luckily for the Big Ten, though, the conference has some of the best coaches in the nation and plenty of young uprising coaches that have plenty of potential (Miles, Pitino, Collins).

The idea of ranking the coaches is definitely not an easy task here for Athlon and there's definitely going to be a lot of subjectivity, though it's hard to argue with the top two on their list. While some people might pin Ryan up top, because honestly his run in Madison has been beyond impressive, Tom Izzo has led the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament 18 seasons in a row and also coached the last Big Ten team to win a national title. His accolades put him just above Ryan and that would remain true even if Bo had won a title last season.

Following the duo of Izzo and Ryan are two more picks that once again make plenty of sense, with Athlon putting Beilein and Matta at third and fourth. It's hard to argue with either coaches positioning, though both have had some struggles recently. It doesn't change the fact that what Beilein had done the last few years before 2014-15 was a showcase of outstanding coaching, making back-to-back deep runs in the NCAA Tournament and almost bringing home a title. As for Matta, he also had an impressive run at Ohio State, only recently slipping towards the middle of the pack the last few seasons. With Matta bringing in an explosive 2015 recruiting class things could be trending up once again, especially with Wisconsin set to relinquish their iron grip on the conference.

Probably the only surprising bit of the list is maybe where they placed Fran McCaffery and Tom Crean. On one hand it's really hard to argue against McCaffery coming in at sixth considering what he's done at Iowa, though it's also hard to exactly pinpoint what would put him above several coaches on the list (Matt Painter comes to mind). As for Crean, the Indiana coach is an excellent recruiter and did a great job at rebuilding the Hoosiers after inheriting an absolute trainwreck, but look no further than Indiana fans to see that his in-game decision making has been suspect far too often and the team definitely underachieved when Crean had a roster that should have been contending for a national title.

At the bottom of the list is Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan, which was expected as he's only 22-43 in his first two seasons at the school. That's not all on Jordan as he inherited a program dealing with quite a bit of controversy and it's going to take some time to get Rutgers contending in the Big Ten, especially as their new home is decisively more difficult than the American Athletic Conference. That being said, like Athlon Sports noted, Eddie Jordan joins Mike Krzyzewski as the two coaches most recent wins have both came against Bo Ryan and the Badgers.

Anyway, what do you think of the list? Ranking the coaches was definitely a challenge but I think the list was pretty accurate overall.