Indiana Coaching Hot Board: Top 10 Potential Replacements For Tom Crean

The Indiana Hoosiers made the decision to fire head coach Tom Crean on Thursday after nine seasons with the program, creating now the most desirable opening in all of college basketball this offseason. Crean went 166-135 in nine years in Bloomington, including three Sweet 16 appearances and Big Ten titles in 2013 and 2016. However the Hoosiers missed the NCAA Tournament entirely in 2014 and 2017, which ultimately led to his dismissal.

Indiana will undoubtedly pursue all of the top names available, and are expected to gauge the interest of Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. Both coaches recently made the jump from college to the NBA, but both have repeatedly expressed they are happy where they are, making them unrealistic candidates for the Hoosiers at this point.

So, which candidates will Indiana target? Here are the top 10 potential replacements for Crean:

10) Pat Kelsey, Winthrop Eagles

Hiring Kelsey certainly wouldn't win the press conference for Indiana, and he isn't anything more than a backup option for the backup options, but it wouldn't be a terrible hire. The former associate head coach at Xavier has spent the past five years as Winthrop's head coach, leading them to back-to-back Big South regular season titles and to the NCAA Tournament this year. A jump in jobs like this is probably a few years too soon, but there's no doubt that Kelsey is a rising star in the coaching ranks. 

9) Kevin Keatts, UNC Wilmington Seahawks

Speaking of rising coaching stars, Keatts has reached that point by leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. He would be more in line for a lower-end Power Six conference job rather than Indiana and is one of those backups to the backup options, but that may change if the Seahawks make a long tournament run. 

8) Chris Holtmann, Butler Bulldogs

The start of our second tier of candidates, Holtmann could be a candidate to jump in-state schools. He has led Butler to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances in his three seasons on the job, but has yet to advance past the Round of 32. Holtmann likely needs to prove himself a bit more in the postseason before getting serious consideration from schools like Indiana.

7) Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa Panthers

One of the most well-respected coaches in the entire country, Jacobson as turned Northern Iowa into a mid-major power. He is 234–134 in 11 seasons with the Panthers, including four NCAA Tournament appearances and one Sweet 16. If he can do that at UNI, it would certainly be interesting to see what he could do with the recruiting power of a school like Indiana.

6) Will Wade, VCU Rams

Shaka Smart's replacement at VCU is no slouch. He doesn't employ that patented "HAVOC" press defense, but his up-tempo style has kept the Rams among the elite programs in college basketball. VCU has won at least 25 games in each of their two seasons under Wade, making the NCAA Tournament each year. It's still very early in his career for this kind of jump, but he is already proven he has what it takes to be successful.

5) Chris Mack, Xavier Musketeers

Mack has joined a long line of successful coaches at Xavier, going 183–89 in eight seasons with the Musketeers, including seven NCAA Tournament appearances and three Sweet 16s. He also helped the Musketeers navigate the transition from the Atlantic 10 to the Big East four years ago, and has them as one of the premier programs in the conference.

4) Chris Collins, Northwestern Wildcats

What Collins has done at Northwestern has been absolutely incredible. His first head coaching job after 13 years as a Duke assistant, Collins has turned a historically terrible program around, earning the school's first ever NCAA Tournament appearance this season. The Wildcats have gotten better in each of his four years at the helm, and he seems like he'd be a slam dunk hire for Indiana.

3) Archie Miller, Dayton Flyers

As good as Collins is, he's just a half-step behind the top three candidates on this list, starting with Miller. Arizona head coach Sean Miller's younger brother, is 140–62 in six years at Dayton, leading them to the NCAA Tournament each of the last four years - including an Elite 8 berth in 2014. He is currently the favorite for the NC State opening, where he played point guard from 1998-2002, but Indiana is certainly the better job if they decide to offer it to him.

2) Steve Alford, UCLA Bruins

Alford is an interesting case. The Indiana golden child, Alford was the state's Mr. Basketball as a senior in high school in 1983, then was a two-time All-American and 1987 national champion as a player with the Hoosiers. On paper, this is the perfect fit, him returning home to coach Indiana. However, he already has a top-tier job in UCLA, where he has several top recruiting classes lined up over the next few years.

If he were to leave, it would be for Indiana. But will he?

1) Gregg Marshall, Wichita State Shockers

Of all the names on this list, Marshall is the top-tier candidate most likely to go to Indiana. We all know what he has done since taking the Wichita State job in 2007, leading them to six straight NCAA Tournaments, a Final Four berth in 2013 and a 260-89 overall record. The Shockers have also won at least 30 games in four of the last five seasons. He is proven in every facet of coaching and is in line for a top job like Indiana. 

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