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Unsung coaches to watch in NCAA tourney


A number of great coaches have been successful over the years, in the NCAA Tournament and beyond. Successful, big-name coaches in this year's field include Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Rick Pitino of Louisville, Lute Olson of Arizona and Tubby Smith of Kentucky. Everyone in the basketball community is familiar with these names.

This year's NCAA Tournament could produce new coaching stars. These guys might be the stars of tomorrow in the coaching fraternity, but they're ready to make some noise now (listed in alphabetical order, with first-round matchups, plus seeds in parentheses).

Former Rick Majerus assistant Joe Cravens has done a fantastic job at Weber State, leading his squad to the Big Sky championship and conference tournament title. His team has won 17 in a row.

How about some love in the Ivy League for Penn coach Fran Dunphy? Year after year, he has put a quality team on the floor for the Quakers.

Western Kentucky coach Dennis Felton has done a remarkable job considering the injuries that sidelined star center Chris Marcus and starting forward Todor Pandov. The former Clemson assistant should have his name near the top of the list of the Clemson job recently vacated by Larry Shyatt.

Former Virginia assistant Bobby Gonzalez has done a super job at Manhattan, leading the Jaspers to their first NCAA berth since 1995. Gonzalez has a great personality and excellent knowledge of the game. He communicates well with players.

Todd Lickliter of Butler has done a great job keeping the program going strong after Barry Collier (now at Nebraska) and Thad Matta (now at Xavier). He has gone 51-10, a pretty remarkable feat.

Bruce Pearl of Wisconsin-Milwaukee did a phenomenal job as an assistant at Iowa under Dr. Tom Davis. Now he's carving his own niche in the Horizon League. He's a name to keep in tune with.

Southern Illinois has built on its success over the past two years under Bruce Weber. The Salukis are back in the Big Dance after reaching the Sweet 16 last season. He was an important lieutenant under Gene Keady at Purdue.

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