Best Current College Basketball Coaches
Rick Pitino’s second title was no ordinary feat. With the win, the newly minted Hall of Famer moves into a category by himself as the only coach to ever win titles at two different schools.
Where does the win move his rank in terms of the game’s best coaches? Taking into consideration a number of factors, including conference championships, Final Four appearances, and national titles, here are the 10 best current college basketball coaches beginning with some honorable mentions.
Just missed the cut: Tom Crean, Jamie Dixon, Mark Few, Bob Huggins, Mike Montgomery, Bo Ryan, Shaka Smart, John Thompson, and Jay Wright.
10. Jim Boeheim: 920–314 career record, all with Syracuse, 10 conference titles (regular season only) 4 Final Fours, and a National Championship (2003)—Boeheim is second to Krzyzewski in wins and is still going strong having just recorded his first back-to-back 30-win campaigns. Although he’s been criticized at times for inconsistent play in the NCAA tournament, his four Final Four appearances are just three less than the combined total (7) of the nine aforementioned coaches who just missed the cut.
9. Thad Matta: 352–104 career record including 24–8 at Butler, 78–23 at Xavier, and 250–73 at Ohio State, 8 conference titles, and 2 Final Fours—Matta over Boeheim was a tough call to start the list, with all of Boeheim’s wins, but the Ohio State coach hasn’t been at it nearly as long (started in 2000 at Butler) as Boeheim and is already close in conference titles. Matta brought the Buckeyes to national prominence so quickly after his hiring in 2004, people have already tended to forget what a reclamation project it was as the program had missed 8 of the 12 NCAA tournaments before his arrival.
8. Brad Stevens: 166–49 career record, all with Butler, 4 conference titles, and 2 Final Fours—Stevens may be a surprise here at No. 8 on the list with just six seasons completed at a mid-major, but getting to back-to-back title games in 2010 and 2011 is a rare feat at any school. Now with the Bulldogs heading to the new Big East, things should only get better for this talented 36-year-old, who has averaged nearly 28 wins in his six seasons.
7. Tom Izzo: 439–178 career record, all with Michigan State, 7 conference titles, 6 Final Fours, and a National Championship (2000)—With three straight Final Fours from 1999 to 2001 (and the title in 2000) Izzo may have risen to No. 2 on this list at that time, some 10 years ago. Though he’s made three more trips to the Final Four since then, his lack of 30-win seasons (1) and conference titles (3) during that time has dropped his stock just a bit.
6. Billy Donovan: 450–186 career record including 35–20 at Marshall, and 415–166 at Florida, 7 conference titles, 3 Final Fours, and 2 National Championships (2006 and 2007)—Donovan is here mainly due to his impressive back-to-back titles in 2006–07, becoming just the second program (Duke) since UCLA’s seven straight in the ’60s and ’70s to do so. Though he’s led the Gators to the regional finals each of the last three seasons, his lack of 30-win seasons since then (0) and his Gators missing the tournament completely in 2008 and 2009 have dropped him down the list.
5. Bill Self: 507–164 career record including 55–54 at Oral Roberts, 74–27 at Tulsa, 78–24 at Illinois, and 300-59 at Kansas, 15 conference titles, 2 Final Fours, and a National Championship (2008)—Maybe the toughest call on this list is Self over Donovan. One the one hand Donovan has had a little better tournament success than Self, who has led Kansas to nine straight conference championships and six 30-plus win seasons over the last seven years, but has had some ugly early round losses like Bucknell in 2005, Bradley in 2006 and Northern Iowa in 2010. But Donovan’s last regional title was 2007, while Self led Kansas all the way to the title game in 2012.
4. John Calipari: 568–166 career record including 193–71 at Massachusetts, 252–69 at Memphis, and 123–26 at Kentucky, 14 conference titles, 4 Final Fours, and a National Championship (2012)—With six 30-plus win seasons (including wins now forfeited in 2008 at Memphis) in eight years since 2006 Calipari slips past Self mainly due to Calipari’s incredible reclamations at UMass and Memphis. After leading UMass to a Final Four and a stint in the NBA, the king of “one-and-dones” went an unheard of 137–14 in his last four seasons in Memphis. He then continued his run at Kentucky, culminating with a 38–2 record in 2012.
3. Roy Williams: 700–180 career record including 418–101 at Kansas and 282-79 at North Carolina, 15 conference titles, 7 Final Fours, and 2 National Championships (2005 & 2009)—With five Final Four appearances in eight seasons from 2002 to 2009, Williams rose up to land just behind Krzyzewski on this list at one point before Pitino passed him this past week. Recent NBA defections and transfers have translated to “just” two conference titles since 2009 and no Final Fours, though his 2012 top-seeded Tar Heels were hit by the injury bug at the wrong time in the NCAA tournament.
2. Rick Pitino: 662–235 career record including 91–51 at Boston U., 42–23 at Providence, 219–50 at Kentucky, and 310–111 at Louisville, 9 conference titles, 7 Final Fours, and 2 National Championships (1996 and 2013)—Pitino’s title at Louisville gives him the very slight advantage over Williams with Pitino’s hard-earned success at Louisville, which hadn’t won more than 19 games in each of the four preceding seasons, being the tougher reclamation project. Also, Pitino’s first Final Four appearance (1987 at Providence of all places) was one of the more unlikely tournament runs since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
1. Mike Krzyzewski: 957–297 career record including 73–59 at Army and 884–238 at Duke, 12 conference titles, 11 Final Fours, and 4 National Championships (1991, 1992, 2001, and 2010)—Still the undisputed king of coaches, Krzyzewski’s accomplishments, mainly his 4 titles and 11 Final Fours, still put him head and shoulders above the competition. His incredible run of seven Final Fours in nine seasons from 1986–1994, including back-to-back titles in the early ’90s, is the second best run ever (to UCLA’s infamous stretch in the ’60s and ’70s.) He has further cemented his place in history with titles again in 2001 and 2010.