The best day of the year is here, and the one where work productivity flatlines.
The NCAA Tournament is here, and Rock M Nation wants to contribute to your distraction with the second round of our coaching search bracket. It started Wednesday with a pair of blowouts, and today we hope you’ll keep voting to set our Final Four.
Below, you’ll see our picks and your picks. As usual, 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.
And again, thanks to everyone 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.
Jeff Linder vs. Todd Golden
- Sam Snelling: Golden
- Matthew Harris: Golden
- Matt Watkins: Golden
- Fans: Golden
Even before Wyoming bowed out of the First Four, Jeff Linder faced a stiff challenge this round. But the Pokes’ struggles, especially the turnover-prone ways of Hunter Maldonado, pulled the plug on any juice he might have had.
We want to think readers are rational. That they’ll look past one result and look at a coach’s body of work and stylistic preferences. But I’ll admit that it was tedious to watch Maldonado walk into countless empty-side post-ups where he crab-dribbled an Indiana guard to death before getting stripped or misfiring on a kick out. Then, we saw Wyoming humming smoothly for about three minutes early in the second half when Linder’s crew was hunting for switches around the free-throw line.
Right or wrong, the NCAA Tournament is one of the few times casual fans can see your wares. On Tuesday, Linder’s offering didn’t look tantalizing, especially against a replacement-level Big Ten outfit. If you’ve been billed as an offensive whiz kid, this season’s early exit makes people question whether it was really deserved.
As for Golden, his test comes today in Indianapolis, when 10th-seeded San Francisco faces seventh-seeded Matt McMahon and Murray State. For some unholy reason, the scheduled tip-off is 9:40 p.m. Eastern time. Mainline your caffeine-infused beverage of choice. Meanwhile, the Dons will be missing a key piece in Yauhen Massalski, who would match up with the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year in KJ Williams.
McMahon is just off the pace in terms of total votes, but a head-to-head result probably goes a long way in how swaying voters when these two meet in our bracket on Friday.
Advancing: Todd Golden
Darian DeVries vs. Matt McMahon
- Sam Snelling: McMahon
- Matthew Harris: McMahon
- Matt Watkins: McMahon
- Fans: McMahon
When we put the initial match-ups together, our hope was to put you in a bind choosing between Niko Medved and Matt McMahon. But instead, Niko exited the chat.
Which is a shame. Colorado State, Murray State, and San Francisco were all shipped to Indy. Wyoming played just down the road in Dayton. An enterprising athletic director could have holed up in a hotel room and knocked out some initial interviews. The selection committee tried to gift MU that much.
Oh, and poor Darian DeVries. Back when we started this exercise, there were a lot of candidates with similar profiles. For example, you could have included Missouri State’s Dana Ford or South Dakota State’s Eric Henderson. All three of these coaches are probably deserving of some deeper vetting, but they don’t play in a league like the WCC or Mountain West. Or they don’t have quite the longevity of McMahon.
Advancing: Matt McMahon
Next Up: Power Players and Risky Bets
What’s become evident over the past week is just how reasonable you all are about your options. No one’s carping about a pool heavy on mid-major options. In fact, fans find facets they like and candidates they’re willing to back.
It also represents a tacit acceptance that a high-profile sitting coach or retread probably isn’t in the cards.
So, I understand if today’s match-ups don’t drive people to mash buttons and vote. That said, there’s still some intrigue. For one, Matt Watkins has picked up whispers and done some research that led us to swap out The Field for a specific candidate to face Dana Altman. I think you’ll enjoy that one.
As for me, I had the unenviable task of sorting out just how well long-tenured assistants like Jerome Tang perform once they take over a high-major program. It’s sobering. But then again, Tang isn’t facing long-term health questions like Thad Matta, who was almost immobile five years ago.
We’re tracking past 5,000 total votes five days in, and we can’t thank you enough. So stick with us, and let’s finish the out.