There's a flattering but awkward backdrop to the regional semis here in Manhattan. There's also an apt stage. Playing in an NBA arena -- the World's Most Famous -- three of the four coaches who've taken their teams to the Sweet 16 in the East Regional either have strong connections to the pros or have been linked to possible gigs as coach of an NBA team.

You have UConn's Kevin Ollie, whose reputation was tremendous during his NBA playing days. He's probably still a couple more successful years away from really being lured out of college, but the potential exists there, nonetheless. There's Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, who worked in the Minnesota Timberwolves' front office after a 10-year NBA career. There is zero doubt now he was the right choice for ISU in 2010 after the Cyclones' third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, their second back-to-back-to-back NCAAs in program history.

And then you have Michigan State's Tom Izzo. His six Final Fours, .715 career winning percentage and tremendous standing within college and pro circles make him an annual obvious candidate for consideration at the next level.

But unlike Hoiberg, who's a bit new to this scuttlebutt and respectfully let out a "no comment" Thursday about anything regarding the NBA, Izzo's more than willing to discuss where he's at practically by the minute. You don't see many coaches, in any sport, speak as freely on the record about their current job status or possible future situations the way Izzo does. It almost makes you halt with how frank he can be.

Izzo told CBSSports.com that he has always felt much more comfortable not hiding things. He can't fight everything off now anyway. He said even when he's forthcoming, people still doubt him.