Happy New Year! The 10 Most improved Division 1 Mens CBB Programs

Published on Author Charles FollisLeave a comment

Dec 31, 2015: Out of the 351 D1 mens college teams, who has shown the most improvement from the 2014/15 campaigns? More significantly, who are the coaches who have steered these juggernauts from the abyss and into the ‘Madness’ conversation?  Here’s a quick peak at this years most improved to date:

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 11.14.10 AM

What prominent D1 programs have felt the sting of these resurgent upstarts? Lets get right to it!

 


Georgia Tech3

The 10th most improved team: GEORGIA TECH

MPI Ranking improvement: +171 positions upward

Coach Gregory GT
Photo credit: Mark Dolejs

CONFERENCE: ACC (Atlantic Coast)

COACH: Brian Gregory

OPPONENT VICTIMS: Arkansas, VCU

NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/62?year=2016

 

Coach Gregory came to Tech from Dayton with the 2010 NIT crown – over UNC – amongst his credentials. His Flyers claimed fame for their fighting spirit – they trained as Boxers (minus the sparring), and it showed on the court. After a rough start with the Yellow Jackets, he appears to have righted the ship. Coach Gregory studied his craft under Tom Izzo, assisting the Spartans on their 2000 title run.

 

 

 


 

WISMIL

The 9th most improved team: Wisconsin Milwaukee

MPI Ranking improvement: +172 positions upward

CONFERENCE: Horizon

COACH: Rob Jeter

Coach Jeter UW Milwaukee
Photo: Reuters

OPPONENT VICTIMS: Wisconsin

NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/362?year=2016

 

Rob Jeter comes from a family of prominent athletes. His primary coaching mentor is the great Bo Ryan of Wisconsin fame. Jeter has seen it all, from the Horizon titles, coach of the year awards, to last years disappointment. Like Ryan, he ‘sticks to his plan’. He takes a keen interest in his athletes academic affairs, believing – correctly – it pays off on the court.


 

TXTECH    Big12

The 8th most improved team: Texas Tech

MPI Ranking improvement: +182 positions upward Tubby Smith

CONFERENCE: Big 12

COACH: Tubby Smith

OPPONENT VICTIMS: Minnesota, San Diego State

NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/192?year=2016

Tubby Smith is back – again! Smith, who had the great misfortune to coach Kentucky to a national championship, seems to be more at ease as the underdog. With an improved defense, his Red Raiders stand a good chance to dance for the first time since Bob Knight’s 2007 team. With an impressive RPI rating (18th nationally), things are looking up in Lubbock for Tubby.


Houston   34

The 7th most improved team: Houston

MPI Ranking improvement: +183 positions upward K Sampson

CONFERENCE: American Athletic Conference

COACH: Kelvin Sampson

OPPONENT VICTIMS: LSU, Murray State

NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/66?year=2016

 

After a tour around the NBA and related positions, Kelvin Sampson has returned to college ball. Sampson was named the 1995 college coach of the year at Oklahoma. He took Washington State to rare hoop heights, and Indiana to new lows in terms of NCAA (phone) sanctions. Say what you want about him, he is resilient! Sampson is a brilliant tactician, tenaciously applying his craft on Houston’s Guy Lewis court.


FORD   2

The 6th most improved team: Fordham

MPI Ranking improvement: +185 positions upward

CONFERENCE: Atlantic 10

COACH: Jeff Neubauer

OPPONENT VICTIMS: Boston College, St. John’s

NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/55?year=2016

Fordham Coach
Andy Lyons / Getty Images

New coach Jeff Neubauer is bringing the success he showed at Eastern Kentucky (2 NCAA appearances) to the Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx. He studied as an assistant under the tutelage of John Beilein at West Virginia. ‘The Rams’ play an exciting brand of basketball in which the three-ball fly. His stated plans to ‘build relations with returning players’ after the coaching change appear to be working to date

 


ARKLR   30

The 5th most improved team: Arkansas Little Rock

MPI Ranking improvement: +219 positions upward

CONFERENCE: Sun Belt

COACH: Chris Beard

Coach Beard
Photo by Gary Lesnick

OPPONENT VICTIMS: Tulsa, San Diego State

NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/6?year=2016

Chris Beard is another ‘new’ rookie head coach who has patiently built an impressive resume.   Coach Beard cleaned house in Little Rock, signing 10 players. The 2015/16 Trojans of Ark-LR lead the nation in defense, are 2nd in Free Throws, and 4th in Turnover margin – that’s change! Coach Beard goes to great lengths to mention his pride in graduation rates, and leverages it into his recruiting process.

 


The 4th most improved team: College of Charleston

MPI Ranking improvement: +222 positions upward

CONFERENCE: Colonial Athletic

COACH: Earl GrantEarl Grant

OPPONENT VICTIMS: LSU

NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/31?year=2016

‘C of C’ Athletic Director Joe Hull promised his fans coach Earl Grant ‘will bring a lot of energy and excitement to our program’. In Grants second season at the helm, his A.D. seems downright prophetic. Grant has achieved success as an assistant under Greg Marshall at Wichita State, amongst other stops. He has ‘closed’ some high profile recruitments as an assistant (Clemson/ NBA player K.J. McDaniels).


 

USC   24

The 3rd most improved team: University of Southern California

MPI Ranking improvement: +223 positions upward

CONFERENCE: Pacific 12

COACH: Andy Enfield

Coach Enfield USCOPPONENT VICTIMS: Wichita State, New Mexico

NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/202?year=2016

Andy Enfield’s high flying Florida Gulf Coast act is catching on in Hollywood, or at least at the Galen Center on the USC campus. It’s taken the new coach two full seasons to get to this point – a lifetime for notoriously impatient Trojan fans entitled to winning teams. Coach Enfield has brought in enough talent to put USC back into March Dance consideration, and possibly Pac 12 title talk, if on-court trends hold.

 


NV   21

The 2nd most improved team: Nevada Reno

MPI Ranking improvement: +246 positions upward Musselman

CONFERENCE: Mountain West

COACH: Eric Musselman

OPPONENT VICTIMS: Coastal Carolina

NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/316?year=2016

Eric Musselman has a wealth of NBA coaching experience, with two stints as head coach (Sacramento and Golden State). He was considered a first class developer of talent by some NBA organizations, particularly during D league summer stints. Nevada marks his 1st full time head coach position at the college level. He has managed to get his team to win many tight games that could have gone either way.


WIL   33

The 1st most improved team: Western Illinois

MPI Ranking improvement: +252 positions upward

CONFERENCE: Summit League

COACH: Billy Wright

Western Illinois
AP Photo Andy Manis

OPPONENT VICTIMS: Wisconsin

NEW REPORT CARD: http://www.marchpool.com/statistics/ncaastats/359?year=2016

Coach Wright and his WIU Leathernecks shocked the CBB world by defeating Bo Ryans’ Wisconsin Badgers AT HOME in Madison. Wright, a former Mr. Indiana Basketball prep star, helped to lead his Bradley Braves to the MVC title in 1996. Wright knows Midwest basketball. He has performed assistant coaching stints at Western Illinois as well as Ball State. WIU has won it’s first 5 games this season after an 8-20 run last year.


TO SEE THE LIST OF ALL 351 TEAMS SORTED BY IMPROVEMENT (APRIL 2015 TO DEC 2016), CLICK http://www.marchpool.com/teams?sort=8

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