This marks my fourth year of completing a March Madness bracket and every year I use the same guiding principle when determining my picks: which team has the hottest coach? That’s right, while others are looking for teams that have Cinderella potential, I’m looking for the Prince Charming of the NCAA.
Evaluating the physical attractiveness of 64 head coaches is no easy task. Every year I’m reminded that Joe Dooley is basically Gollum and that the National Championship is his “precious,” how terrifying Rick Pitino is, and that John Brannen definitely chews his egg McMuffin with his mouth open and says things like, “Is the air dry in here? It seems very dry,” in a nasally voice.
You can check out all my picks here, but I’ve detailed the most noteworthy matchups below. Now let’s play some ba(e)sketball!
#2 Duke – Mike Krzyzewski vs. #15 Troy – Phil Cunningham
This matchup is meaningful because it was the first real upset I encountered on my bracket. It burned. I know that choosing Troy over Duke will likely result in the loss of the Red Lobster dinner bracket bet I made. But I’m not here for the perfect bracket, I’m here to find the most handsome coach. Let’s be real, Coach K looks like a villain from a Disney movie. But Phil Cunningham looks like the type to yell at his wife in public. (He probably doesn’t.)
Winner: Phil Cunningham
#5 Notre Dame – Mike Brey vs. #12 Princeton – Mitch Henderson
Mike Brey looks like your rich jerk of an uncle who is mean to waitresses, but makes a show of buying drinks for everyone, so it’s whatever. Mitch Henderson seems like the quiet, intelligent and oh-so-adorable human who turns on some Ben Folds and delivers a glass of chardonnay to you on the couch and asks to hear about your long day. Plus, I’m partial to the name Mitch.
Winner: Mitch Henderson
#8 Miami – Jim Larrañaga vs. #9 Michigan State – Tom Izzo
This matchup is a total crap shoot to be honest. No ladies are going gaga over Larrañaga, and if Coach K is a Disney villain, then Tom Izzo is definitely his boss – the mastermind behind the whole operation. However, Izzo does play one mean accordion. Until I see Jim Larrañaga play Don’t Stop Believin’ on an accordion, Izzo continues on.
Winner: Tom Izzo
#5 Iowa State – Steve Prohm vs. #12 Nevada – Eric Musselman
Deciding between these two was about as hard as Eric “Muscle Man’s” abs. My distress stemmed from the initial thought that Musselman resembled Fitzgerald Grant, but as an ISU alum, it would pain me to see Iowa State disappear from my bracket so quickly. Prohm is no Fred Hoiberg in the dreamy hunk category, but love is blind. Iowa State moves to Round Two.
Winner: Steve Prohm
#5 Minnesota – Richard Pitino vs. #12 Mid Tennessee State – Kermit Davis
Usually the younger coach is the hotter coach, but that’s not the case here. It did not slip my mind that 34-year-old Richard Pitino is the son of the notorious Rick Pitino. How could it? They are the first father-son duo to coach teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament. How cute. The past of Richard’s father may have clouded my judgement, but not entirely. Even if I had amnesia, one look at Richard reminds me of the type of dude at a college basement party who fills an empty Grey Goose bottle with Hawkeye and encourages you to take a pull.
Kermit, on the other hand, resembles your best friend’s dad. Back in middle school you used to call your BFF’s landline, and Kermit would pick up and talk to you a bit, ask how your grades were and how your older brother was doing at college before handing the phone over. Not hot, but full of dad jokes and very kind.
Winner: Kermit Davis
#5 Virginia – Tony Bennett vs. #4 Florida – Mike White
My boy Tony Bennett returns to the Big Dance once again after last year’s big win in my Hot Coaches bracket. He faces tough competition in Round Two up against cutie Mike White. Mike White reminds me of the Seth Meyers of the basketball world. Not dramatic or rambunctious, but has one-liners that make you think for a second, but then has you weak in the knees with laughter. However, if you were in a meeting with a guy like Tony Bennett, you’d instinctively look at the ring finger of his left hand. Just saying. See ya in the Sweet Sixteen, Tony.
Winner: Tony Bennett
#6 Southern Methodist University – Tim Jankovich vs. #14 New Mexico State – Paul Weir
Do you know what I respect? Hair. And Tim Jankovich has lots of it. But Paul Weir pulled off a big upset against 3-seed Baylor in the first round and is ready to rock, plaid blazer and all. However, Jankovich reminds me of Jon Hamm and Jon Hamm creeps me out (don’t ask me – I don’t know why) so woo hoo – Weir moves on.
Winner: Paul Weir
#16 South Dakota State – T.J. Otzelberger vs. #9 Vanderbilt – Bryce Drew
First off – shout out to Otz on his big upset against #1 Gonzaga in Round One. I’ve been crushing on Otzelberger since his Iowa State days when he and Hoiberg made one dreamy duo. Man, that smile. I’m also familiar with Bryce Drew. He’s made it far in Hot Coaches brackets of the past when he was with Valparaiso. Man, those eyes. Bryce Drew is the John Mayer type: way too complicated and doesn’t return your calls because he got lost in his own thoughts. But you keep calling.
Winner: Bryce Drew
#10 VCU – Will Wade vs. #2 Arizona – Sean Miller
Imagine walking down your high school hallway. “Wade 4 Prez” posters plaster the walls. “Hey Jake – good game last night!” “Is your hair different, Lindsey? I really like it!” “Mrs. Applegate, those cookies today at lunch were top notch!” Will Wade was totally class president and knew everyone, everyone, by name. A little bit of a brown-noser? Yeah. Know-it-all? Sure. But he’s promising that if you vote for him, he’ll get make sure that they offer ranch dressing as a condiment at lunch again. You can’t help but love him.
Sean Miller is the ex frat boy who put on a little weight thanks to Natty Light. He definitely doesn’t notice your new haircut but could could somehow relate your work story to something totally “sick” his Beta bros did back in the day. (It’s not relatable and he graduated 15 years ago.) He throws a hissy fit, demanding that mushrooms be on half of the pizza you ordered for dinner that night, then eats slices from your half anyway. You don’t like mushrooms.
Winner: Will Wade
#1 North Carolina – Roy Williams vs. #8 Arkansas – Mike Anderson
If men are like wine and truly get better with age, Roy Williams is the spokesperson for that analogy. Look at that grin. You could find him during the off season at a beachside bar in Florida after a full day of golf, wearing pastels. He’d ask where you’re from, “sweetheart.” And then order a “virgin strawberry daiquiri for the young lady over here, please.” He has a charming old man wink and tips the bartender well. But the charm isn’t enough to let Grandpa get too far in the tournament. Plus, have you seen Mike Anderson’s smile?
Winner: Mike Anderson
The Sweet Sixteen
#1 Villanova – Jay Wright vs. #5 Virginia – Tony Bennett
Having these two dreamboats meet up in the Sweet Sixteen is a crime against humanity. These two gentlemen deserve to meet in the finals, if you ask me. If you were to look up “Silver Fox” in the dictionary, you would find an 8×11 photo of Jay Wright and all of his pinstriped goodness. However, I want Tony to be my hot date to the Big Dance.
Winner: Tony Bennett
#3 Oregon – Dana Altman vs. #10 Oklahoma State – Brad Underwood
The tournament isn’t even over yet and it’s obvious that the hottest coaches represent the East and that the Midwest is lacking. While the East flaunts Jay and Tony, Dana Altman and Brad Underwood have somehow made it to the Sweet Sixteen. I don’t get it either. First off, Dana Altman – cool name, I like it a lot. However, Dana Altman resembles my dad, so it’s weird for me that he’s made it this far in the Hot Coaches Tournament.
Fun fact: Brad Underwood has never smiled. Ever. On his fifth birthday he received a Red Ryder BB gun and still scowled. Another fun fact: He wears white rimmed Oakley sunglasses and is definitely wearing a Tapout shirt under that jacket.
Winner: Dana Altman
The Elite Eight
#4 Butler – Chris Holtmann vs. #3 UCLA – Steve Alford
Chris Holtmann could probably place any of these coaches in a pretty bomb half nelson. The dude looks like more of a wrestler than a basketball player and has definitely earned his spot in the Elite Eight. Steve Alford is a handsome man and could have made it to the finals had I not learned that he’s a total scumbag. That nice head of hair and youthful skin doesn’t make up for the lack of remorse or regret on how he handled that situation at Iowa. It turns out that no amount of attractiveness can compensate for an attempt to cover up a sexual assault. Buh bye, Aflord.
Winner: Chris Holtmann
#10 Marquette – Steve Wojciechowski vs. #5 Virginia – Tony Bennett
This Elite Eight matchup once again proves all the hotties coach in the East region. Picking between these two smoke shows was about as complicated as Wojciechowski’s last name. Steve would never suggest putting mushrooms on a pizza, let alone eat from your half. However, he does seem like the type to end every text with either “:)” or “lol,” so he’s gonna have to take the L on this one.
Winner: Tony Bennett
The Final Four
#5 Virginia – Tony Bennett vs. #12 Princeton – Mitch Henderson
#5 Iowa State – Steve Prohm vs. #4 Butler – Chris Holtmann
Words can’t describe the beauty of the Final Four. Pictures speak 1,000 words, so just soak it in. The well-fitting suits (minus Prohm, sorry), the smiles, the hair, the non-threatening eyebrows, the fact that they probably all know the difference between to/too/two. True beauty. I’d let any of them recruit me any day of the week. However, Tony Bennett and Chris Holtmann will be moving on to the National Hot Coaches Championship.
And the champion is:
This is Tony Bennett’s second year as the winner of the Hot Coaches Tournament – and no one deserves it more. This family man radiates confidence, calmness and class, truly depicting what it means to be the Prince Charming of the Big Dance.