Top 10 Biggest Turnarounds in NCAA Basketball
Ashley Judd and her pals must be feeling pretty chesty about their beloved Kentucky Wildcats. Their team is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Cats have breezed past their first two opponents. Their next assignment is just six hours south down Interstate 75 at the Atlanta Regional. And the best part: They get to face a team that until this season hadn't come close to .500 since 2008 and went just 12-20 last year, failing to win a single game away from home.
That team is Indiana. But Kentucky had best beware. In his fourth season, coach Tom Crean has transformed the Hoosiers into an imposing 27-8 outfit. That 15-victory improvement in one season casts Indiana into a select group of schools that have vaulted from ghastly misery to astounding success the very next year. Three national champions of relatively recent vintage are on that list. Last spring's winner, Connecticut, finished 32-9 just one year after limping home 18-16. North Carolina rolled to the 2005 national title with a 33-4 record a year after going 19-11. And the 1986 Louisville Cardinals went 32-7 and won it all, rebounding from a 19-18 record the previous year.
Occasionally, coaches' turnaround magic is transferrable. The affable Rick Majerus turned a Ball State squad that went 14-14 in 1988 into a 29-3 powerhouse the next year. He showed he still has the touch by taking his Saint Louis Billikens from 12-19 last season to 26-8 this year, ending with a four-point loss to No. 1 seed Michigan State on Sunday. The not-so-affable Billy Gillispie guided UTEP to an 18-win improvement in 2004. He promptly left for the lure of Texas A&M, where in his first season he burnished the Aggies' bottom line from seven victories to 21.
All of these accomplishments are impressive, yet we haven't even mentioned one school that set the standard by winning 19 more games in 1999 than it did in 1998. Which school was that? You can find out by reading our list of the Top 10 Biggest Turnarounds in NCAA Basketball.