Commentary

Top three Coach of the Year candidates

Updated: January 20, 2012, 11:15 AM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

There is always a lot of talk about the top candidates for Coach of the Year in college basketball.

My friends, the list can change from week-to-week. The debate over the crème de la crème is always interesting, and you can make a case for a number of individuals this season.

I have changed my mind a few times myself. A few weeks ago, I would have had Tom Crean of Indiana on top of my list. Now that the Hoosiers have lost three in a row, he has fallen down in my rankings.

Here is a look at my top choices as of now:

[+] EnlargeBoeheim
Richard Mackson/US PresswireJim Boeheim has handled the adversity in Syracuse this season, helping the Orange go undefeated.

1. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
Sure, it helps to be undefeated, but look at the job he has done. His team is 10 deep and he keeps everybody happy. It looks like the only team that could beat the Orange is themselves. He has been able to handle the distractions well. It has been a super season for Boeheim so far.

2. Steve Fisher, San Diego State
After a great season a year ago, the Aztecs were not expected to be ranked at this point in 2012. After losing four starters, led by Kawhi Leonard, from a super squad, expectations were lower. San Diego State is 16-2 and Fisher has done an incredible job. The recent win at The Pit in New Mexico against the Lobos simply re-affirmed the job the veteran coach has done.

3. Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
Talk about working through adversity. The Bearcats' brawl vs. Xavier was as ugly a moment as we have seen this season. It was one of the worst in recent memory, to be honest. The bottom line is Cronin made sure his team learned from it. He took charge right away after the game, saying how disgraceful it was and that actions like that would not be tolerated. Cronin talked about putting on the Cincinnati uniform being a privilege and the athletes involved would not be back unless they really gained from the experience. Cincinnati has responded and outside of a home loss to St. John's, this team has played extremely well.

Wow, next week we will see Boeheim and Cronin opposing each other.

You can argue for a number of others. This is simply my opinion as we head into the weekend. I am sure the list will take more twists and turns as the season rolls on.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.