(The Spread) – Ben Howland is among a handful of NCAA Division I coaches to take three different teams to the NCAA tournament. He’s also now in search of a job after UCLA fired him over the weekend.
It was released on Saturday that UCLA had notified Howland that he was being fired. The official announcement is still forthcoming, but the Bruins are definitely moving on. Throughout his coaching career, Howland took Northern Arizona, Pittsburgh and UCLA to the NCAA Tournament and is one of only three active coaches to compete in three consecutive Final Fours. (Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski are the other active coaches in that category.)
Who will replace Howland at UCLA? According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, Shaka Smart is the favorite at 3/1 but Josh Pastner is right behind him with 5/1 odds. Mick Cronin is 6/1, Jay Wright is 7/1, and Jeff Van Gundy is 9/1. Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan are both 10/1, respectively, while Mike Brown is 12/1 and Brad Stevens is the current long shot at 15/1.
Smart is the hot name, even after his VCU Rams were humiliated by Michigan in the third round of this year’s NCAA tournament. He’s been at VCU since 2009 and on January 19th of this year he became the second youngest coach to win 100 games in a 90-63 victory over Duquense. He agreed to an 8-year contract extension back in April of 2011 as VCU increased his base pay from $350,000 to $1.2 million per year. But the lure of coaching at a bigger program might be too much for Smart to stay with the Rams.
Meanwhile, Paster served as an assistant under coach Lute Olson at the University of Arizona from 2002 to 2008. After Olson’s retirement, Paster served as an assistant coach at the UNverisity of Memphis during the 2008-2009 season and earned a reputation as a solid recruiter. He was selected to replace John Calipari as head coach at Memphis in 2009 and most recently led the Tigers to a second-round victory over St. Mary’s in this year’s March Madness tournament. Memphis was just knocked out by Michigan State, however.
Who will replace Ben Howland at UCLA?
Shaka Smart 3/1
Josh Pastner 5/1
Mick Cronin 6/1
Jay Wright 7/1
Jeff Van Gundy 9/1
Rick Pitino 10/1
Billy Donovan 10/1
Mike Brown 12/1
Brad Stevens 15/1