The NCAA Tournament is more than a month-long cacophony of buzzer beaters, Cinderella runs and "One Shining Moment." It's also a showcase for coaches of successful mid-major schools looking for their big break.
Last season, John Groce coached the Ohio Bobcats to a surprise Sweet 16 run, and parlayed that into a gig at Illinois. This year, a handful of breakout coaching candidates could be making the jump soon. Let's take a look at one of them.
Tim Cluess, Iona
Despite the unfortunate name, Cluess has found success at nearly every level he's coached. He cut his teeth at the Division II level, leading Long Island University-C.W. Post to a 98-23 record over four seasons from 2006-2010. In that short span, he racked up three conference titles and a Division II Elite Eight run in 2009.
After 2010, Cluess made the jump to Division I, signing with the Iona Gaels. Just like his previous tenure, he found quick success, leading Iona to the MAAC championship in 2011-12 and its first NCAA tournament bid since 2006. The Gaels would lose in the First Four, but Cluess wasn't done yet. In 2012-13, Iona finished the regular season 20-13 and won the MAAC tournament, securing its second straight trip to the Big Dance.
Cluess has a nearly spotless track record and, if he can lead the Gaels to even a single win in the tournament this year, his star will continue to rise. He's a name to look out for.