Story by Daniel Woods

With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament underway, a number of coaches named as candidates to take over as head coach of the West Virginia men’s basketball program are leading their teams into the postseason this week. The Panhandle News Network has you covered with a schedule breaking down round of 64 matchups for potential future Mountaineer coaches.

Dayton head coach Anthony Grant vs. Nevada – Thursday, 4:30 pm

Grant is a name that a lot of West Virginia fans may not have expected to see here but MetroNews’ Greg Hunter listed him among the candidates on this week’s edition of Sunday Sportsline. Formerly head coach at VCU and Alabama, Grant has turned his alma mater of Dayton into a mid-major power and coaches one of the best post players in the nation in DaRon Holmes.

Colorado State head coach Niko Medved vs. Texas – Thursday, 6:50 pm

Medved’s buzz throughout mid-major basketball has continued to grow over the last handful of years with four 20-win seasons in six years at Colorado State. His Rams are making their second NCAA Tournament appearance under his direction and already earned a 67-42 win over Virginia in the First Four on Tuesday night.

Washington State head coach Kyle Smith vs. Drake head coach Darian DeVries – Thursday, 10:05 pm

The late game on Thursday night is a 1-2 punch of candidates for West Virginia. Smith is in an interesting position as the Pac-12’s collapse has left Washington State out in the cold for next season. That doesn’t mean he won’t be a commodity around the country after leading the Cougars to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.

DeVries is among the most successful coaches outside the power conferences since assuming his first head coaching post at Drake, winning a minimum of 20 games in each of his six seasons. The Bulldogs are in the NCAA tournament for the third time during his tenure with his son Tucker DeVries leading the way on the court.

Florida Atlantic head coach Dusty May vs. Northwestern – Friday, 12:15 pm

There has not been a bigger name among mid-major coaches over the last calendar year than Dusty May. Last year, May led Florida Atlantic to the Final Four in the program’s second NCAA Tournament appearance ever and the first since 2002.

May is expected to be a candidate for other openings at Louisville and Michigan while industry chatter leads some to believe that the Indiana grad is willing to wait out Mike Woodson’s potential departure as head coach of the Hoosiers in the next couple of years.

James Madison head coach Mark Byington vs. Wisconsin – Friday, 9:40 pm

Byington may be the name most consistently connected to the opening at West Virginia and for good reason. James Madison is one of four 30-win teams in Division I this season and is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013 in Byington’s fourth season.

Formerly an assistant for Bobby Cremins at College of Charleston, Byington has excelled at building programs into winners as he is responsible for two of the Dukes’ five 20-win seasons since the year 2000 and before heading to Harrisonburg became the first coach in over 30 years to post three straight 20-win campaigns at Georgia Southern.

Charleston head coach Pat Kelsey vs. Alabama – Friday, 10:05 pm

Kelsey is one of the most energetic coaches in the nation and has enjoyed near immediate success at Charleston with a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in his first two years at the helm. Previously the head coach at Winthrop, Kelsey maintains a number of West Virginia connections having played for former Wheeling Central Catholic head coach Skip Prosser at Xavier and served as an assistant coach to Prosser at Wake Forest.

He has also coached a trio of West Liberty transfers in recent years including Dalton Bolon, Pat Robinson and Bryce Butler, the last of which is on the current team. The Cougars play a high-tempo style based around three-point shooting and match up with Alabama in a battle of two of the fastest teams in the nation.

Grand Canyon head coach Bryce Drew vs. St. Mary’s – Friday, 10:05 pm

Most fans probably know Drew as a March Madness hero, nailing an iconic buzzer beater for Valparaiso to upset Ole Miss in the 1998 NCAA Tournament but the former Houston Rockets draft pick has enjoyed a successful second career in coaching. Drew succeeded his father Homer as head coach at his alma mater in 2011 and made a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances before accepting the head coaching position at Vanderbilt.

With just one winning season leading the Commodores, Drew was dismissed in 2019 but has bounced back in a big way since being hired at Grand Canyon in 2020. The Lopes have made it into the tournament in three of his four seasons, the only appearances the program has ever made in Division I.