When I started looking through the ACC Basketball coaches, it just boggles the how much coaching talent will be in the ACC over the next few years. Certain Hall of Famer coaches will not be ranked in the top 3. I’ve never seen a greater collection of coaches in one conference. When you look at the top 4 coaches in this list, who in the rest of the country could crack that list? Tom Izzo? Bill Self? maybe John Calipari and/or Billy Donovan? It’s a small group for sure.
Further down the list coaches that have had multiple NCAA Tournament teams, can’t even crack the top 10… It’s really good stuff. Let’s check out the rankings.
1) Mike Krzyzewski – Duke
Despite being the winningest coach college basketball of all-time, with 4 National Titles Coach K doesn’t have a stranglehold on this spot. It’s been 4 years since he made the Final 4, and he’s only made 1 Final 4 (The 2010 National Title) in the last 10 years. That’s said, what separates Krzyzewksi from his other Hall of Fame peers is his historical greatness, that includes 11 Finals 4 and 13 ACC Championships.
He can still pull elite recruits to Durham, and his teams are still usually among the top 15 in the country. He will open next year with a legit shot at the national title. Oh yea he helped resurrect Team USA basketball.
2) Rick Pitino – Louisville
Rick Pitino has been to 7 Final Fours with 3 different teams. He’s won 2 National Titles, including last year’s 2013 National Championship at Louisville. He’s gone 3 straight years with at least 30 wins.
Nothing suggests Pitino still isn’t one of the very best coaches in the business. If he makes a Final 4 next year and Krzyzewksi doesn’t, could Pitinio overtake Coach K for the top spot? I would give that serious consideration.
3) Roy Williams – UNC
Roy Williams doesn’t get the credit he deserves. You don’t win over 700 games, with 7 Finals Fours and 2 National Titles and not know how to coach. Williams has taken slightly less talented UNC teams the last 2 years and made them into squads that have won 24 and 25 games, and got better as the season progressed.
He has as many National Titles as Boeheim, Krzyzewksi, Pitinio, and Izzo do combined since 2004. He’s never lost a first round game in the NCAAs. He can coach folks.
4) Jim Boeheim – Syracuse
How can a coach that’s won 948 games with 4 Final Fours, and national title end up fourth on any active coaching list? When you coach in the ACC in 2014. How good is Boeheim? He’s just averaging 29.5 wins the last 6 season, with a Final 4 in 2013.
If there’s a knock on Boeheim, it’s that his teams do have a tendency to play better earlier in the year than later, or maybe it’s just that lighter early season schedule.
5) Tony Bennett – Virginia
Tony Bennett is rising star in the coaching ranks. Each season he’s been at Virginia the Cavaliers have improved their win total. This year Virginia was a number 1 NCAA seed, won the ACC regular season and ACC tournament title. The Hoos had a 30-7 season and went to the Sweet 16. The Washington State Cougars haven’t been back to the NCAA tournament since he left at the end of the 2008 season. You watch, coaches will be copying his Packline defense. It’s that good.
6) Jim Larranaga – Miami
Jim Larranaga can flat out coach. He went to 5 NCAA tournaments at George Mason, including the historic 2006 Final Four run. He goes to Miami and win an ACC Title in 2013, 29 games, and goes to a Sweet 16. He was the AP Coach of the year in 2013, and I think he’s the ACC’s sixth best coach. That’s crazy. Look for Miami to rebound in this upcoming season.
7) Jamie Dixon – Pittsburgh
Jamie Dixon is a proven winner. He has a career winning percentage of .750, and got Pittsburgh into the 3rd round of the NCAA tournament this year. In 11 years at Pittsburgh he’s missed the NCAAs just one time, and that he year Pitt was the CBI champion and won 22 games. His physical hard nosed brand of basketball is something the ACC needs to see. He’s won multiple coach of the year awards. Dixon resume is just lacking a visit to the Final 4.
8) Buzz Williams – Virginia Tech
What a home run hire by Virginia. Prior to this year, Williams had Marquette in the NCAA Tournament 5 straight years, with three consecutive Sweet 16′s or better. That was while coaching in the brutal Big East. The challenges will be different at Virginia Tech where it is a football first school, but he already has the Hokie fanbase as excited about basketball as it’s been in years. He’s off too a good start recruiting as well.
9) Mark Gottfried - N.C. State
This is how good and how deep the coaching in the ACC goes. Mark Gottried has won 24, 24, and 22 games at N.C. State. He’s 3 for 3 in NCAA tournament appearances, and he went to to the Sweet 16 in 2012. He had a ton of turnover from last year and still got his team to the Big Dance. Oh yea he’s made 3 straight ACC tournament semi-finals. I can’t imagine in any other conference where a coach with this kind of resume would be 9th on a list like this. He’s a near 65% winner as a head coach.
10) Leonard Hamilton – Florida State
Leonard Hamilton is one of the most underrated coaches in the business. His final 3 years at Miami were all NCAA tournament appearances. Not since 2005 has FSU missed the NIT or NCAAs. He had a run of 4 straight NCAA tournaments at FSU from 2009-2012, that culminated in an ACC tournament title in 2012. He’s a two-time ACC Coach of the year. Sometimes I’m not sure enough FSU fans appreciate what a good coach they have in Hamilton.
11) Mike Brey – Notre Dame
This is just getting ridiculous now. Mike Brey is a 3-Time Big East coach of the year, and an AP Coach of the year in 2011. Until this year he hadn’t missed the NCAAs or NIT since 1997. I simply don’t know where else to place him. Who are you going to move him past? Notre Dame despite 9 NCAA tournament appearances since 2000, has never made it past the Sweet 16, even that has only happened once.
Brey has never won a conference tournament or regular season title while at Notre Dame. Last year was a rough 15-17 first year in the ACC, but Brey is a upper echelon coach there’s no arguing that.
12) Brad Brownell – Clemson
Brownell is a solid coach. He won 23 games this year and got Clemson to the NIT semi-finals. This was a team many expected to finish at the bottom of the ACC. K.J. McDaniels came to Clemson a pure athlete, and Brownell helped turn him into a likely first round pick. Can he recruit well enough to make Clemson a NCAA tournament team again? He hasn’t had as much success as his predecessor Oliver Purnell.
13) Danny Manning – Wake Forest
Danny Manning is one of the most recognizable in College basketball history, but how good of a head coach is he? He did get Tulsa to the NCAA tournament this past year, but I can’t just justify putting him ahead of so many established and successful coaches just yet. Wake Forest is a place with the right coach that can win.
14) Brian Gregory – Georgia Tech
Brian Gregory isn’t a bad coach. He had a couple of NCAA appearances at Dayton. At Georgia Tech, he’s won on the road against top 10 opponents like Miami in 2013, and Syracuse this year. The problem is in 3 years at Georgia Tech, he’s lost 36 conference games. In a league this cut-throat, and about to get even more cut-throat, that won’t get it done. Gregory is an ok recruiter, but not an elite one. He’s made some mistakes in talent evaluation too. I think the league especially in it’s present form is a bit too much for Gregory. This could be his last year in Atlanta.
15) Jim Christian – Boston College
It’s not a good sign, when you fire a head coach, and the replacement is at the bottom of the ACC coaching rankings. He’s never won a NCAA tournament game as a head coach, though he did win 49 games in two years at Ohio. It’s a decent resume, but it reminds me of the Brian Gregory hire at Georgia Tech. Sure it could turn out great, but the initial feeling is a collective “meh”.