For the better part of 25 years, Chris Mack has been Xavier basketball. From being a redshirt transfer on his hometown basketball team, to serving as an assistant under the late Skip Prosser and Sean Miller, to becoming captain of the ship, there's probably not a man who exemplifies what it means to be an Xavier Musketeer more than Chris Mack.
A year removed from receiving a contract extension that will keep him in Cincinnati through the 2020-21 season, Mack took his most talented team thus far to a 26-4 record, tying a program record for wins in a season, and finished second in the Big East, their highest finish since joining the conference.
Mack lost key contributors prior to the season in the graduating Matt Stainbrook and Dee Davis, and the transfer of point guard Brandon Reynolds. Normally, that would send a Sweet 16 team into a frenzy, but not this team. Not with this coach. Mack re-tooled his roster, with the inclusion of freshmen Edmond Sumner and Makinde London, and began to play with a more uptempo style, finishing in the top 40 of Kenpom's adjusted and raw tempo ratings. Mack has been able to let his guys play loose and relaxed and its translated to better efficiency on offense as well.
Defensively, his team has had its struggles. Xavier has really lapsed these last few weeks on defense, but it's not the end of the world. They go into the Big East Tournament ranked 39th in Kenpom's adjusted defensive efficiency ratings. Prior to the NCAA Tournament last year, Duke ranked 57th in the country, then finished the year 12th en route to a national title. All it takes is a few strong games to freshen up those efficiency numbers.
Mack has one of the most complete teams heading into the postseason. They may not have one guy that does everything great - although Jalen Reynolds has been a force all year, and Trevon Bluiett is a special player - but collectively, Mack has them playing some of the best basketball of anyone in the country. He has them playing tough, physical and fast - all dangerous components entering this stage of the year.
It's not an easy case, considering Jay Wright is still the best coach in the conference, and Kevin Willard has been the most surprising, but this award should go to the leader who's been able to get the most out of his players, and Chris Mack has been doing just that all year.