Credit - Loyola Athletics

IU basketball head coach search: Who has elevated their name in this 2021 NCAA Tournament?

March is when college basketball coaches distinguish themselves, but there is probably a reasonable line of thinking that says a coach shouldn’t be identified as a serious candidate based on one good run in the NCAA Tournament.

So with that dichotomy in mind, let’s take a look at some under or off the radar names who may or may not have coached their way into the IU basketball conversation — but have clearly become a name to watch in the broader national sense.

History will show that these were some of the up-and-coming or otherwise hot names in the business when IU was conducting its 2021 search.

Jeff Boals turned around the Stony Brook program and had a 24-9 season there in 2018-19 before being hired by Ohio.  The former Ohio State/Thad Matta assistant followed a 17-15 first season in Athens with a 17-7 campaign and an NCAA Tournament appearance this year. The Bobcats upset defending national champion Virginia before falling to Creighton.  He’ll likely need a couple more strong years at Ohio, but Boals could end up in the Big Ten.

Andy Enfield is someone we’ve had on our first two head coach hot boards, and he has done nothing to hurt his reputation.  Enfield’s USC squad destroyed Kansas 85-51 to advance to his second Sweet 16.  The first came eight years earlier with Florida Gulf Coast.  Generally thought of as an offensive coach, Enfield has had a KenPom top-20 defense each of the last two seasons and his teams are 46-16 over that span.

Grant McCasland isn’t going to land in Bloomington, but his North Texas squad did something Archie Miller couldn’t in four seasons — beat Purdue.  North Texas has improved in Conference USA play over the last two seasons, but the Mean Green still have double digit losses overall during each of McCasland’s four seasons in Denton, albeit while playing a respectable schedule.

Dana Altman is another coach who has been on our boards and has further cemented his name as a top national coach.  Oregon lit up Iowa for 95 points in a blowout win.  AD Scott Dolson said he wanted a more modern system, and Altman has had a KenPom top-25 offense in six of the last eight seasons.  Altman has reached 20 wins 11 straight seasons, including 25 or more five times.

Paul Mills also slayed a Big Ten foe in Ohio State and then his Oral Roberts squad followed that up with a win over Florida.  Mills has only been a head coach for four seasons, all at Oral Roberts.  His team is only 18-10 this year but they played and difficult non-conference and there has been a clear progression during his tenure.  Mills isn’t ready for Indiana, but the long time Scott Drew/Baylor assistant has clearly coached is way into the national conversation.

Eric Musselman has been a top name on our board from the jump and the Arkansas head coach has done nothing but validate his place as one of the hottest names in college basketball.  It would be surprising if Indiana wasn’t taking a long, hard look here.

Joe Golding has a good thing going at Abilene Christian with three straight 20-win seasons and an upset over Texas last week.  Preaching a suffocating defensive style like his good friend Chris Beard, Abilene Christian is the best team in the country at forcing turnovers.  It won’t be Indiana, but Golding seems like an obvious choice to make a move up the coaching ladder this year somewhere.

Porter Moser is another coach on our hot board from the beginning, and he looks like a guy that will have multiple interesting options when his season ends.  After a Final Four run in 2018, Loyola Chicago is back in the Sweet 16 after a convincing win over No. 1 seed Illinois.  The Ramblers were impressive on both ends of the floor agains the Illini, and after proving 2018 was no fluke, Indiana should be taking a closer look.  Loyola is currently No. 9 in KenPom, including the No. 1 overall defense.  Prior to being hired at Loyola, Moser was an assistant coach at Saint Louis under Rick Majerus for the 2007-08 season, and the associate head coach from 2008-11.

Wayne Tinkle has been at Oregon State for seven seasons and has been underwhelming enough to probably need to prove what he has done in 2021 is the real deal.  Tinkle had four straight 20 win seasons at Montana, but he has never had more than his current 19 wins or less than his current 12 losses in a season in Corvallis.  But the Beavers have currently won eight of nine with several impressive victories along the way.

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