Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats is one of the best at performing over expectations. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

March Madness is about to get underway, and while you are poring over your bracket trying to figure out who is this year’s Cinderella or national champion, don’t forget to take into account the impact a coach can have on his team’s tournament outcome.

Using coaching classes developed by Peter Tiernan of the now-defunct BracketScience.com, reconfigured to use Sweet 16 rather than Elite Eight appearances due to the data available, we can find which type of coaches win more often than they should based on seed.

Since 2011, when the tournament expanded to 68 teams, “legendary” coaches, those with more than 10 trips to the big dance and more than four runs to the Sweet 16, w0n the most games (0.489 per coach, per year) over expectations.

Coaches that fall into this group this year include Mark Few (No. 1 Gonzaga), Bill Self (No. 1 Kansas), Roy Williams (No. 1 North Carolina), Jay Wright (No. 1 Villanova), Mike Krzyzewski (No. 2 Duke), John Calipari (No. 2 Kentucky), Rick Pitino (No. 3 Louisville), Bob Huggins (No. 4 West Virginia) and Tom Izzo (No. 9 Michigan State).

Over the past six years, the average No. 2 seed has won 2.2 games per tournament, almost one game fewer than the No. 1 seeds — roughly the difference between a Sweet 16 and Elite Eight appearance. Calipari’s coaching acumen, however, could add another game (or two) to the Wildcats run, giving it a better chance at a Final Four berth.


Rookie coaches have had recent success, too. They are the second best-performing group relative to expectations with some leading potential upset candidates, such as Dan Hurley (No. 11 Rhode Island), Mitch Henderson (No. 12 Princeton), Eric Musselman (No. 12 Nevada) and Steve Wojciechowski (No. 10 Marquette).

Marquette doesn’t have an experienced roster — only Katin Reinhardt, a graduate transfer, has played in the tournament before — but Wojciechowski, in his third season leading the program, has built his team around strong shooters, producing the sixth-highest effective field goal percentage in the country. Two of the teams ahead of Marquette are No. 1 seeds (Gonzaga and Villanova) while the other two top seeds, Kansas and North Carolina, are far behind.


The worst performing groups are one-hit wonders (more than five trips with one Sweet 16 appearance) and “snakebit” coaches (more than five trips with no Sweet 16 appearances). That’s bad news for flash-in-the-pan Mick Cronin (No. 6 Cincinnati), whose only Sweet 16 appearance was in 2012, a loss to No. 2 Ohio State. Mike Davis (No. 16 Texas Southern) made it to the national title game in 2002 as coach of the Indian Hoosiers, but has no other deep run in his seven other tries. Plus, the No. 1 seed is 128-0 against the No. 16 seed, making it even tougher for Davis this time around.

The only “snakebit” coach in this year’s tournament is Greg McDermott (No. 6 Creighton), who has never made it past the round of 32 despite seven tournament appearances. His first-round opponent is the aforementioned No. 11 Rhode Island, where rookie coach Hurley could exceed expectations at McDermott’s expense.

Rhode Island can score (110.7 points per 100 possessions, 64th in the country) and create extra possessions through rebounding (33.1 offensive rebound percentage, 60th) and turnovers (16.6 percent, 52nd). The Rams also limit the amount of three-pointers their opponents take, keeping it to less than a third of all field goal attempts (29.8 percent, 18th in the country). That will be a problem for Creighton, who relies on its 40.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

The team whose coach should benefit them the most is No. 1 North Carolina. Williams is in the “legends” class with eight Final Four runs in 26 tournament appearances, winning a total of 2.5 games above expectations in his career. That projects to 3.45 wins in this year’s tournament — just on the edge of a Final Four berth.

The most likely first-round upset due to coaching alone projects to be No. 13 Vermont, who is expected to win 1.25 games in this year’s tournament under Coach John Becker.

Vermont is a very good shooting team (55.4 effective field goal percentage, 19th best in the nation) but doesn’t rely on a large number of threes (25.65 percent of points scored, 291st), the type of consistent offense that can go far in the tournament. And it is just as stable on defense, allowing 30.3 percent of an opponent’s field goals from three-point range.

Here’s how this year’s coaching class ranks:

1. Roy Williams (No. 1 North Carolina), Legends, Expected wins: 3.45
2. Mark Few (No. 1 Gonzaga), Legends, Expected wins: 3.38
3. Jay Wright (No. 1 Villanova), Legends, Expected wins: 3.25
4. Bill Self (No. 1 Kansas), Legends, Expected wins: 3.23
5. John Calipari (No. 2 Kentucky), Legends, Expected wins: 2.96
6. Rick Pitino (No. 2 Louisville), Legends, Expected wins: 2.67
7. Sean Miller (No. 2 Arizona), Destined, Expected wins: 2.5
8. Mike Krzyzewski (No. 2 Duke), Legends, Expected wins: 2.34
9. Dana Altman (No. 3 Oregon), Veteran, Expected wins: 1.93
10. Leonard Hamilton (No. 3 Florida State), Destined, Expected wins: 1.88
11. Archie Miller (No. 7 Dayton), Prodigy, Expected wins: 1.87
12. Michael White (No. 4 Florida), Rookie, Expected wins: 1.84
13. Scott Drew (No. 3 Baylor), Destined, Expected wins: 1.83
14. Steve Alford (No. 3 UCLA), Destined, Expected wins: 1.8
15. Chris Holtmann (No. 4 Butler), Novice, Expected wins: 1.77
16. Bob Huggins (No. 4 West Virginia), Legends, Expected wins: 1.52
17. Tim Jankovich (No. 6 SMU), Rookie, Expected wins: 1.42
18. Rick Pitino (No. 5 Minnesota), Rookie, Expected wins: 1.4
19. Matt Painter (No. 4 Purdue), Destined, Expected wins: 1.32
20. Steve Prohm (No. 5 Iowa State), Prodigy, Expected wins: 1.27
21. John Becker (No. 13 Vermont), Novice, Expected wins: 1.25
22. John Beilein (No. 7 Michigan), Destined, Expected wins: 1.21
23. Joe Dooley (No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast), Novice, Expected wins: 1.18
24. Buzz Williams (No. 9 Virginia Tech), Prodigy, Expected wins: 1.12
25. Mike Brey (No. 5 Notre Dame), Veteran, Expected wins: 1.1
26. Greg McDermott (No. 6 Creighton), Snake bit, Expected wins: 1.06
27. Mark Turgeon (No. 6 Maryland), Destined, Expected wins: 1.05
28. Chris Collins (No. 8 Northwestern), Rookie, Expected wins: 1.02
29. Will Wade (No. 10 VCU), Novice, Expected wins: 1
30. Mick Cronin (No. 6 Cincinnati), Flash in the pan, Expected wins: 0.97
31. Frank Martin (No. 7 South Carolina), Prodigy, Expected wins: 0.93
32. Steve Wojciechowski (No. 10 Marquette), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.93
33. Brad Underwood (No. 10 Oklahoma State), Novice, Expected wins: 0.9
34. Dan Hurley (No. 11 Rhode Island), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.87
35. Gregg Marshall (No. 10 Wichita State), Veteran, Expected wins: 0.85
36. Mitch Henderson (No. 12 Princeton), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.81
37. Eric Musselman (No. 12 Nevada), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.81
38. Randy Bennett (No. 7 Saint Mary’s (Calif.), Prodigy, Expected wins: 0.8
39. Jim Larranaga (No. 8 Miami (Fla.), Destined, Expected wins: 0.74
40. Greg Gard (No. 8 Wisconsin), Prodigy, Expected wins: 0.73
41. Andy Enfield (No. 11 Southern California), Prodigy, Expected wins: 0.69
42. Mike Anderson (No. 8 Arkansas), Destined, Expected wins: 0.63
43. Kermit Davis (No. 12 Middle Tennessee), Novice, Expected wins: 0.61
44. Tom Izzo (No. 9 Michigan State), Legends, Expected wins: 0.58
45. Ray Harper (No. 15 Jacksonville State), Novice, Expected wins: 0.57
46. Nathan Davis (No. 13 Bucknell), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.54
47. Pat Kelsey (No. 13 Winthrop), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.54
48. Steve Forbes (No. 13 ETSU), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.54
49. Chris Mack (No. 11 Xavier), Destined, Expected wins: 0.53
50. Tony Bennett (No. 5 Virginia), Destined, Expected wins: 0.49
51. Rob Senderoff (No. 14 Kent State), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.47
52. Paul Weir (No. 14 New Mexico State), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.47
53. Bruce Weber (No. 11 Kansas State), Destined, Expected wins: 0.41
54. Brian Jones (No. 15 North Dakota), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.36
55. John Brannen (No. 15 Northern Kentucky), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.36
56. Phil Cunningham (No. 15 Troy), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.36
57. Bryce Drew (No. 9 Vanderbilt), Novice, Expected wins: 0.35
58. T.J. Otzelberger (No. 16 South Dakota State), Rookie, Expected wins: 0.29
59. Kevin Keatts (No. 12 North Carolina-Wilmington), Novice, Expected wins: 0.27
60. Tim Cluess (No. 14 Iona), Novice, Expected wins: 0.01
61. Jamion Christian (No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s), Novice, Expected wins: 0
62. Jim Les (No. 16 UC-Davis), Prodigy, Expected wins: 0
63. Mike Davis (No. 16 Texas Southern), Flash in the pan, Expected wins: -0.08
64. Kevin Willard (No. 9 Seton Hall), Novice, Expected wins: -0.57