Experience doesn't just help players when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. Historically, it helps coaches a lot, too. Consider that only 10 first-year coaches have made the Final Four. Before Hubert Davis did it last year with North Carolina, the last first-year coach to make the national semifinal was Bill Guthridge -- also with the Tar Heels -- in 1998.
Three more first-year coaches -- all in the East Region -- will try to add their name to that list. Furthermore, there are five additional coaches in their first year of their current tenure seeking to lead a run into early April. For the purposes of this column, we'll include them, too.
Some have a more straightforward path than others, but things are rarely what they seem when it comes to March Madness. Here's how likely the eight coaches who are dancing for the first time in their current position are to make a Final Four run.
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1. Rodney Terry, (2) Texas
(2011-18 at Fresno State, 2018-21 at UTEP)
Terry is still technically the interim coach after taking over for Chris Beard in December, but he's made a strong case for the full-time job by putting Texas in position to challenge for its first Final Four since 2003. The Longhorns boast great depth with a versatile nine-man rotation, and they have plenty of talented scorers in Marcus Carr, Sir'Jabari Rice and Timmy Allen. The Longhorns showed just how good they can be in the Big 12 Tournament when they blew out Kansas by 20 points in the final. Terry's team is in the top 20 in Kenpom's offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency, and it has the star power, depth and experience to make a deep run.
2. Jon Scheyer, (5) Duke
(First year as Division I coach)
If Davis did it last year, why can't Scheyer do it in his first year just down Tobacco Road? Scheyer's Blue Devils have won nine straight. Point guard Jeremy Roach has been excellent of late and scored 23 points in the ACC Tournament title win over Virginia. He's the veteran leader the team looks to in big moments. As for the freshman starters, Kyle Filipowski is a double-double machine and a matchup nightmare offensively, Dereck Lively II's length is coming in huge defensively, Mark Mitchell's offensive game is coming around, and Tyrese Proctor is finding his footing after an uneven start. Dariq Whitehead adds scoring punch off the bench, too.
Only one team -- Miami -- has eclipsed 70 points against the Blue Devils since the start of February. Oral Roberts could present a problem with its spacing, but looking down the line, Duke has the size -- it's the tallest adjusted team height per Kenpom -- to match up with Zach Edey and Purdue in a potential Sweet 16 showdown.
3. Sean Miller, (3) Xavier
(2004-09 at Xavier, 2009-21 at Arizona)
It's certainly not Miller's first year of coaching -- or even his first year at Xavier, for that matter -- but it is his first year of his current tenure with the Musketeers, and this year's bunch can score the ball as well as anyone. Only Gonzaga has a better offensive efficiency this season, and only Colgate and Toledo shot a better percentage on 3-pointers. All of the ingredients are there: Souley Boum is a terrific lead guard who plays big in big games, Colby Jones is an NBA talent and there are good complementary pieces in Adam Kunkel, Jerome Hunter and Jack Nunge. The Musketeers are also a veteran group that won't get rattled
So why is Xavier only third on this list? Two big reasons: Zach Freemantle (foot) is done for the year, further limiting the depth of a team that already wasn't super deep, and the defense can be hit-or-miss.
4. Jerome Tang, (3) Kansas State
(First year as Division I coach)
After a long tenure under Scott Drew at Baylor, Tang finally got his chance and has not disappointed; Kansas State's No. 3 seed is its best since 2010. The offense is generally strong thanks to senior stars Keyontae Johnson (17.7 ppg) and Markquis Nowell (16.8 ppg), arguably the most fun-to-watch duo in the nation. The Wildcats move the ball well and can really get going when things are on (they scored 116 in a January win at Texas. The biggest issue is that turnovers can pile up in a hurry. They had 20 in a regular-season finale loss at West Virginia and another 20 in their loss to TCU in the Big 12 Tournament.
5. Dennis Gates, (7) Missouri
(2019-22 at Cleveland State)
Missouri is bound to play some of the most hectic and potentially memorable games of the NCAA Tournament -- if it can make a deep enough run. The Tigers had the best 3-point percentage in SEC play and fire a ton of shots from behind the arc. They have the best turnover-per-game differential in Division I, and three scorers are averaging double digits. This team is super fun to watch but not always super reliable: Gates' team is 6-9 in Quad 1 games and eight of the nine losses were by at least nine points. The Tigers' first-round opponent, Utah State, falls into the Quad 1 category in what will be an entertaining 3-point fest.
6. Kevin Willard, (8) Maryland
(2007-10 at Iona, 2010-22 at Seton Hall)
Maryland is a well-balanced bunch, with top-35 marks in offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. The Terrapins have a stud senior guard in Jahmir Young, a great post player in Julian Reese, and plenty of supporting pieces with seniors Donta Scott, Hakim Hart and Don Carey leading that charge. Though the home/away splits are concerning, the Terrapins blew out Saint Louis and Miami on a neutral court to win the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament back in November. Maryland finished the season by losing four of its last seven, though, and even a win over West Virginia in the first round would likely mean a date with a dominant Alabama team.
7. Chris Jans, (11) Mississippi State
(2014-15 Bowling Green State, 2017-22 New Mexico State)
The First Four has produced two Final Four teams, and if Mississippi State wants to be the third, it'll have to make things messy. Jans' team simply cannot shoot, but it can defend and rebound with the best of them. Tolu Smith is one of the best big men in the country, and if he can dominate the glass, he gives Mississippi State a chance. The Bulldogs' final five losses of the regular season came by a combined 15 points, and that includes a three-point loss at Alabama. The Bulldogs' tenaciousness -- and Smith's work in the post -- keeps them in a lot of games. With such a struggling offense, however, the margin for error is slim.
8. Tobin Anderson, (16) Fairleigh Dickinson
(First year as Division I coach)
Fairleigh Dickinson is dancing despite losing the NEC Tournament title game. Why? The Knights lost to Merrimack, but the Warriors are still ineligible for the NCAA Tournament as they completes its transition to Division I. So, just by making the title, Fairleigh Dickinson got the bid. Anderson's squad begins its NCAA Tournament with a First Four game against Texas Southern, with the winner taking on 1-seed Purdue. Even if a deep run isn't in store, it's been a magical year for FDU, which used a tiny lineup to fuel a huge turnaround in Hackensack.