Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: 10 coaches who will face the most pressure entering 2024-25 season

Kyle Neptune, Mike Woodson among 10 coaches who will face the heat come November.
Villanova v Seton Hall
Villanova v Seton Hall / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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Ben Johnson, Minnesota 

After spending two seasons in the bottom of the Big Ten, Ben Johnson and the Minnesota Golden Gophers made serious strides last season. The Gophers improved their win total from nine to 19 and earned a trip to the NIT. However, because of how Minnesota assembled their non-conference slate last season, it was evident that Johnson and his staff were feeling the pressure to get some wins under their belt.

Now entering year four of the Ben Johnson era, the Gophers were hit hard by the transfer portal, losing the steady heartbeat of their offense, Elijah Hawkins, alongside key frontcourt pieces such as Pharrel Payne and Josh Ola-Joseph. They even lost Cam Christie to the 2024 NBA Draft. Yet, Johnson was able to subdue those losses by welcoming an experienced transfer portal core that should keep the Gophers competitive. However, with a new-look roster in the fold, Johnson can hardly afford a step backward this year.

Mark Pope, Kentucky 

After Kentucky swung for the fences after John Calipari bolted for Arkansas, the Wildcats ultimately landed Mark Pope, a Kentucky alum who helped the Wildcats win the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Pope spent four years at Utah Valley and five years at BYU, where he led the Cougars to a six seed in the 2024 NCAA Tournament but was upset in the first round by Duquesne.

Pope is by all means a good coach, but his lack of NCAA Tournament success, the same reason Calipari was ousted from Lexington, is a major question mark as he enters his first season in Lexington. The fact of the matter, Kentucky is a job where the motto goes: win now or never. Pope may be entering his first season, but there will be no grace period. The expectations at Kentucky are sky-high….and they will remain sky-high. Pope has assembled a talented group that will display a similar bold to his BYU teams: shooting, shooting and more shooting. From Pope’s first game on the job, the pressure will be on.