College basketball power rankings: Virginia moves up to No. 2, Saint Mary’s at No. 7 ahead of Gonzaga showdown
By my count, there were nearly a dozen top coaches who came in this season and needed a big year (maybe even needed to make the NCAAs) in order to avoid being dismissed. Four of those coaches have turned their fortunes, although there is still a lot of work to do over the next six weeks. Let’s go see these four guys.
(All references to projected NCAA Tournament seeding are consistent with Jerry Palm’s most recent Bracketology outlook.)
Brad Brownell, Clemson: The No. 20 Tigers’ loss to Boston College on Tuesday night was a major drag on the resume, giving Clemson a third bad loss this season. He also tied the Tigers with Virginia in the ACC loss column. Nonetheless, Clemson is 18-5 and remains a good story here in early February. Brownell’s officiating season was the main topic of the Court’s report two weeks ago. With 236 wins, he is the winningest coach in Clemson history; I think he should be safe regardless. With the BC loss, the Tigers now have the resume of a No. 10 seed.
Jeff Capel, Pitt: The program was a bog when Capel got the job, but no one thought he’d be 27 games under .500 in the ACC (29-56) halfway through his fifth season. In 2022-23, Capel finally created something worth watching. The 16-7 Panthers are heading to at least match their win total from the past two years combined (21). Pitt is a bubble team at the moment, sitting with an 11 next to his name earlier in the week. After the Panthers’ fifth win in their last six against North Carolina — and their third straight at the Dean Dome — the arrow is pointing ever higher.
Chris Collins, Northwestern: The only coach to take Northwestern to the tournament in over 80 years. But that doesn’t give Collins a lifetime deal. He was supposed to have a huge year to stay, and he is right now – to the surprise of a ton of people in the Big Ten. The Wildcats lost in Iowa on Monday, but if that team is tournament-worthy, they consider Thursday night’s home game against 11-10 Michigan to be winnable, not to worry about. NU was on line 8 in Palm’s support on Monday. He must beat the Wolverines to return to this location on Friday.
Kevin Keatts, NC State: Wolfpack’s fanbase is growing restless and disgruntled even after a year without playing the tournament. Keatts had a limit tournament squad in 2020, but we never got that tournament. His only appearance was in 2018, his first season on the job. This season was meant to bring change, and it did. After two sub-.500 runs, Keatts has NC State seeded 8 and climbing so fast, in fact, that State makes the cut in this week’s Hey Nineteen.
Come take a look.
Ranking Hey Nineteen Power
Reminder: My rankings are not just about those I consider the “best”. This is a weekly encapsulation of the 19 hottest, most successful and/or most *interesting* teams, combining team quality with winning quality, but also having no shame for recency bias and rewarding significant winning streaks. All records displayed are against the DI competition.