Players come and go in college basketball, but coaches can seemingly last forever.
That's why it's so important to look at the bench bosses involved in every matchup when filling out your bracket. If just about everything else looks even on paper, coaching is often what makes the difference.
That impact is largely due to the massive roster turnover throughout NCAA basketball. At best, a school will get four years of play from a student-athlete, whereas the top NBA prospects will spend just one season in college, making it difficult for the casual fan to know year in and year out where the best talent lies.
Coaches are the true measure of consistency, and the wisdom they can bring to a young team is invaluable. Just look at the recent national championship winners for an idea of how much that experience matters in the tournament.
Since 2000, all but three head coaches who led their team to a national title had spent at least five seasons at the helm of that program, while the three exceptions further emphasize the point.
John Calipari was in only his third season at Kentucky when he took the Wildcats to the promised land, but he'd previously taken both UMass and Memphis to the Final Four, so the pressure was nothing new.
Roy Williams was in just his second year as head coach at North Carolina when it won in 2005, but he'd spent the previous 15 years leading Kansas, and was a longtime Tar Heels assistant before that. He's also won two more titles since then, including last season, proving the early success was far from a fluke.
Perhaps the only outlier on this list, Kevin Ollie, was in his second year as UConn's head coach for the title-winning squad of 2014. However, the Huskies had also won three championships over the previous 15 years under Jim Calhoun, so the winning culture had already been well established. With the Huskies ending Ollie's tenure after just six years and two straight losing seasons on Saturday, they showed a lack of belief in his ability to turn the program around and helped prove that established coaches are key to success.
This year's tournament features a star-studded cast of coaches, including Williams and Calipari, Mike Kryzewski at Duke, and Tom Izzo at Michigan State. Gonzaga's Mark Few, Villanova's Jay Wright, and Kansas' Bill Self are just a few more of the accomplished leaders who can be found all over this year's bracket.
So, if the pick is a tough one and you can't make up your mind, look to the coaches and let that clash serve as your tiebreaker.