The worst tourney coaches by PASE

In the last “Coach Ratings” entry, we introduced the concept of PASE (performance against expectations) and listed the ten coaches that most exceeded seed-projected win totals. For every overachieving coach, however, there are nearly two coaches that fall short of expectations. Of the 202 active coaches who have gone to the dance, only 66 are PASE overperformers, 19 have exactly met expectations (18 of whom were 16 seeds), and 117 are underperformers. That’s 58% of the coaches.

So which coaches are the most notorious underachievers? Here are 10 actives coaches with the worst PASE values who’ve made at least five tourney appearances:

For the fourth straight year, DePaul coach Oliver Purnell has the stigma of being the biggest tourney underachiever in college basketball.  In six dances, Purnell has yet to win a game—and it’s not like he hasn’t had favorable seeds.  He took a fourth-seeded Dayton squad to the dance in 2003. And with Clemson, he had squads that were seeded fifth and seventh twice between 2008 and 2010. By seed expectations, he should’ve won about five games. But he’s come up with goose eggs—and so his PASE stands at a pathetic -.818.

Perhaps more disappointing than Purnell is the case of Jamie Dixon. The Pitt coach has coached teams with the highest average seed (3.6) of any coach in the bottom 10. But in eight tries, Dixon’s squads have only beaten expectations twice. Just look at his last three trips. In 2009, the Panthers were a one seed and failed to reach the Final Four. The next year, as a three seed, Dixon’s cagers bowed out in round two as a three seed. And in 2011, top-seeded Pitt got stunned by eighth-seeded Butler in the second round.

Here are a few other items to note in this list of underachievers:

  • Congrats to New Mexico’sSteve Alford for climbing out of the list of shame. He didn’t have to do much to escape the PASE basement. His Lobos got through the opening round as a five seed. That was enough to avoid the Terrible 10. Rick Stansbury also escaped this list of infamy—by losing his job at Mississippi State.
  • Alford and Stansbury were replaced in the rankings by John Thompson III and Leonard Hamilton. Both coaches find themselves on the list because they got upset as three seeds in the second round.
  • Notre Dame fans might argue with my contention that Jamie Dixon is the most disappointing coach on this list. Mike Brey has been pretty darned dreadful in the dance, particularly in his last five trips. Since 2007, Brey has underachieved in every tourney, despite a favorable 5.2 seed. In fact, he’s one of only three coaches with 10 or more tourney trips and zero Elite Eight runs. (The other two are Gonzaga’s Mark Few and Temple’s Fran Dunphy.) I call Brey “snake-bitten”—and I’ve instituted a law for coaches like him. If you know what it is, you can avoid some bracket mistakes. Stay tuned for a future blog entry.
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2 Responses to The worst tourney coaches by PASE

  1. David Matteucci says:

    Steve Alford coaches the New Mexico Lobos, not New Mexico State Aggies.

    • ptiernan says:

      Well don’t I feel like a horse’s ass. knew that. I’ve been sending up warning signals on New Mexico all day–but can’t find anyone before OSU who could beat them. Marvelous Marv Menzies is the NMST coach.

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