9. Andy Newman – Cal State Northridge
Frankly, Cal State Northridge is a program that’s been a mess in recent years. The Matadors made several straight retread hires, and the dismissal of Mark Gottfried and his successor Trent Johnson didn’t exactly leave the program in great shape. Not only has this program not reached the Big Dance in 15 years, they haven’t won double-digit games in a season in four years, making the benchmark for success pretty low.
And yet, it’s impossible to say that Newman hasn’t been successful right out the gate. He spent a decade as an assistant at Cal State Fullerton, but aside from that is a brand new face at the D1 level, coming off successful 5-year periods as head coach at Texas-Permian Basin and Cal State San Bernardino. Newman even led the Coyotes of San Bernardino to the D2 Final Four last season, but now faces a new challenge.
While Northridge has now lost their last three games, they still sit pretty at 13-7 after an impressive 12-3 start to Newman’s first season. The highlight of the season has undoubtedly been the program’s true road win at UCLA just before Christmas. With how they’ve struggled on defense in Big West play, it’s somewhat unlikely that the Matadors will contend for the league title, but Newman has this program playing much better ball already.