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Coaching Search Bracket: Steady Risers Region Results

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You all liked Niko Medved, but apparently, he still loves Colorado State. And Matt McMahon advanced in our bracket, but he’ll face another potential candidate in the actual NCAA Tournament this week.

NCAA Basketball: Murray State at Memphis Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Two days are down, and there two more to go. On Sunday, we wanted to offer up some mid-major coaches with a little bit more experience than a quartet of younger options we put forward on Saturday.

Below, you’ll see our picks and your picks. We’ve also had to make a tweak. I’ve tried to (briefly) offer a few comments on what transpired. But we can’t dwell for long. Another four coaches are up for your consideration today.

Also, thanks to every one who read, voted, and commented. Our goal is to give you a sense of the options and a chance to express your voice — even if this exercise is for fun. Thanks for playing along.


NCAA Basketball: Fresno State at Colorado State Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Niko Medved vs. Casey Alexander

  • Sam Snelling: Medved
  • Matthew Harris: Medved
  • Matt Watkins: Medved
  • Fans: Medved

Well, we have our first wrinkle.

Two minutes before the actual 68-team bracket was revealed, Niko Medved withdrew from this thought exercise. The Colorado State coach re-upped for his third extension in the last two years, keeping him in Fort Collins through 2027-28. I can’t say we’re surprised. We hinted at the idea that Medved might decide to spend another season with a veteran core. Sure enough, he’s done precisely that.

So, we’re going to automatically advance Alexander, right?

Wrong. It’s not like the margin was all that close. Clearly, the voters weren’t intrigued by what the Belmont coach had to offer.

Instead, we’re going to swap in another potential candidate: Drake’s Darian DeVries. We’ll profile him in the second round, which starts on Wednesday.

Advancing: Darian DeVries, Drake (replaces Niko Medved)


NCAA Basketball: Murray State at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Matt McMahon vs. Grant McCasland

  • Sam Snelling: McMahon
  • Matthew Harris: McMahon
  • Matt Watkins: McCasland
  • Fans: McMahon

Again, the actual 68-team bracket offered up a gift. On Thursday, Mizzou fans can turn on the TV and scout two candidates for themselves when Murray State meets San Francisco. And if you like fantastic guard play, this is the game for you: Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz going up against the trio of Tevin Brown, Justice Hill, and Trae Hannibal.

We already profiled Dons coach Todd Golden, who advanced past Kim English on Saturday. And you all voted for McMahon yesterday. So we’re curious how preferences will shift now that Medved’s no longer in the mix.

Advancing: Matt McMahon


Arizona v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Next Up: Risk Tolerance Region

From the start, we knew this stupid idea would require changes on the fly. Obviously, we’d want our pool to mimic the exact one Desiree Reed-Francois is considering. That’s not possible. As we saw today, a name on everybody’s board may take themselves off the market.

We also wanted this search bracket to serve as a chance to get a sense of what fans prefer — even if the specific candidate may not be fully in the mix. Part of the process means getting a feel for how much risk fans would take on if they were hiring.

That brings us to today’s region. Three options are retreads, while another has zero experience as a head coach. Each comes with its distinct form of risk, too.

  • Thad Matta, former Ohio State coach: long-term health
  • Chris Mack, former Louisville coach: quick return after a mid-season firing
  • Sean Miller, former Arizona coach: potential NCAA sanctions
  • Jerome Tang, Baylor assistant coach: first time running a program

Now, you could argue that MU’s leadership has taken risks in the past. Frank Haith had a middling resumé at Miami before the Nevin Shapiro scandal kicked off in South Florida. They followed up that hire with Kim Anderson, a Division II coach who had not worked at a power-conference program in any capacity for 15 years.

Only Tang’s name has been formally reported as a possibility of those four. Miller’s name has been tossed around hot boards. We’re including Mack and Matta as test cases.

The pieces matching those candidates will post later this morning.