The 2018-19 college basketball season returns from the holidays to begin conference play. It won’t be all that long before we are talking about conference tournaments and the coming March Madness. There will be a few teams that, if they don’t make the tourney, could see their head coaches fired. UCLA’s Steve Alford has already faced the axe, getting let go after the Bruins started slowly this year. Who else might be looking for a new job?

The Big East
St. John’s brought in former star Chris Mullin to turn around the program. He hasn’t quite done that yet. His 2018-19 season could determine his fate. Mullin and the Red Storm are off to a good one. They won their first 12 straight before losing to Seton Hall. St. John’s beat No. 16 Marquette behind 26 points from Shamorie Ponds, one of the nation’s best guards. An NCAA tournament bid will save Mullin. An NIT or no bid at all will likely get him fired.

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Dave Leitao’s seat at DePaul is much hotter than Mullin’s. Entering his fourth season with the Blue Demons, Leitao is just 29-65 overall and has won just nine Big East games. DePaul is 8-5 and has lost its first two Big East games of the season. The only thing saving Leitao could be his 2019 recruiting class. He has signed two four-star recruits.

Lost in the Wake Forest
Remember when Chris Paul took the Demon Deacons to the Sweet Sixteen? That was 15 years ago! Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning was hired to revive the program and move it into the upper third of the ACC. It hasn’t happened.

In 2017, Manning’s team managed to get into the tournament as a No. 11 seed, but failed to make it last year after going 11-20. Wake Forest is off to a mediocre 7-5 start which includes a loss to Gardner-Webb. The Demon Deacons begin ACC play with Georgia Tech then face No. 1 Duke at home on Jan. 8. Without an NCAA bid, this is likely Manning’s last year in Winston-Salem.

BC or Not to BC
Boston College’s Jim Christian is in the same boat as Manning and his Eagles haven’t made the NCAA tournament in his four-plus seasons. Last year, BC went 19-16, the school’s first season above .500 since 2010-11. Christian’s teams have won just 13 ACC games and the team’s best player, Jerome Robinson, turned pro after last season. 

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Boston College has opened the season 9-3. There are no huge wins, but the Eagles did find a way to lose to Hartford for the second time in three seasons. The Eagles begin ACC play with No. 10 Virginia Tech and No. 4 Virginia. It could be the last rodeo for Christian.

Big Ten Troubles
There are currently seven Big Ten teams ranked in the AP Top 25. Maryland is not one of them. Mark Turgeon’s team went 19-13 last year and failed to make the Big Dance. He is now three for seven heading into his eighth season with the Terrapins. That simply isn’t good enough at Maryland.

Turgeon has a solid record – 157-80 – in his seven seasons and took his 2015-16 team to the Sweet Sixteen, but if the Terps continue to regress Turgeon could be on the way out. Maryland is 11-3 and 2-1 in Big Ten play so far.

Minnesota’s Richard Pitino and Penn State’s Pat Chambers could also be on the way out. Pitino has some talent at Minnesota, but last year’s 15-17 isn’t going to cut it. Penn State and basketball really don’t go together, and Chambers has somehow managed to last seven seasons without making an NCAA tournament. Both coaches might need to go dancing to stay gainfully employed.

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