College basketball is a great game, especially in March.
The conference tournaments that precede the NCAA tournament constitute the greatest month of any sport in the world. The excitement. The action. The upsets.
And you can't forget about the sideline antics of the coaches mentioned below. They're all successful leaders who've won at the highest stages.
But they're also some of the most animated coaches in America.
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1. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin Badgers
Ryan isn't the gruff character folks see when he's on the sideline. But there's just something about officiating that gets to him. There is no evidence that the Naismith Hall of Fame candidate has actually agreed with a foul call in nearly 40 years of coaching. Just wait for the whistle and watch Ryan go.
2. Bob Huggins, West Virginia Mountaineers
First, he's a large man. That magnifies the effect of Huggs' outbursts. But he really brings the total package. He's demonstrative. He's a poet with profanity whenever he disputes a call. And there are always one or two assistants who have to hold him back when he's in that mode, like he's a professional wrestler threatening to enter the ring without a tag.
3. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke Blue Devils
He's 68 years old, he has won more than 1,000 games, and he's an Olympic champion. But Coach K is not above a sideline tirade every now and then. He's as effective at coaching man-to-man defense as he is at using four-letter words to express his frustration. Last season, he picked up a technical foul for throwing his pen during the ACC tournament. Then he threw a fit after he received the technical foul. Coach K don't care.
4. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Orange
The greatest meme in the history of college basketball memes celebrated an anniversary last month. Boeheim's sport coat-tossing ejection in last season's matchup against Duke went viral. Fast. Syracuse fan Neil Gold bought the jacket for $14,000. That event was simply proof that Boeheim doesn't protest. He erupts.
5. Tom Izzo, Michigan State Spartans
Izzo focuses his emotions on his players more than officials. The Spartans could win by 40, but if you look at his face, you would assume his team had lost. When he's upset with a player, he doesn't hold back. Sometimes he throws his hands in the air with this look of disbelief. Sometimes he'll just berate a player. Michigan State had a healthy lead late against Purdue on Wednesday night. Didn't matter. Bryn Forbes returned to the sideline during a timeout and got Izzo'd. Smallest guy on that bench, and by far the most intimidating.
6. Frank Martin, South Carolina Gamecocks
No surprise that a guy who used to work as a bouncer in Miami's hottest clubs during the “Cocaine Cowboys” era can be a bit edgy on the sideline. Everyone knows about the Frank Martin stare. Once he is locked in, it's as though he's having a flashback to his days as a bouncer. Still, his players love him. But they also don't cross him.
7. Rick Pitino, Louisville Cardinals
Everything was swell in Louisville's December matchup against Western Kentucky until Montrezl Harrell got ejected for a scuffle with a few WKU players. Both WKU coach Ray Harper and Pitino met with officials at midcourt after the dustup. Harper said something to Pitino that he didn't like; next thing you know, Pitino exploded. Both coaches drew technical fouls. Don't let the fancy suits fool you. On the sideline, Pitino is as colorful as his wardrobe.
8. Fran McCaffery, Iowa Hawkeyes
During his time at Siena, both McCaffery and his wife got tossed from a game. It runs in the family. But McCaffery has been more subdued this season compared to last, when he got tossed in a road game against Wisconsin. March, however, is here. And that will put pressure on every coach in America. One bad call and McCaffery could return to his former ways.
9. Tom Crean, Indiana Hoosiers
Yes, the Big Ten has a disproportionate number of animated coaches, it seems. A few months ago, Crean got into a back-and-forth with Nebraska's Tim Miles . . . in the middle of a game. You can judge Crean's emotions according to the hue of red on his face. Beet-red Crean. Cherry-red Crean. Tomato-red Crean. You'll see all three throughout the course of a game.
10. Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech Hokies
Just Google “Buzz Williams” and “Walk It Out.” Or “Morgantown” and “Buzz Williams dancing.” Williams is like a shaken soda that gets popped open at tipoff. Just a few weeks ago, Williams had sweat through his shirt and had to change into a sweater at halftime. So much energy.