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Apr
10
2015

Comparing Mike Krzyzewski and John Wooden.

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After Mike Krzyzewski won his 5th national title on Monday, the inevitable comparisons to the college basketball coach considered the greatest of all time John Wooden. Before we get into that comparison though, I think we can safely say that Krzyzewski and Wooden stand alone together at the top of the pantheon of college basketball.

Krzyzewski has won astonishing 1018 games, the most of any Division 1 college basketball coache. He has 5 National Titles, and 12 Finals Fours in 34 years as the Duke Blue Devil head coach. In his career he’s won nearly 77% of his games.

Wooden won 662 games, and had a winning percentage of 80%. He won 10 national titles, (7 in a row at one point), and there were 12 Final Fours for Wooden.

The fact we can even discuss Krzyzewski in the same sentence as Wooden is a testament to his accomplishments. Krzyzewski is certainly the best coach of the modern era – (Post 1980), but I can’t place him above Wooden.

You can argue that Krzyzewski coached in a more difficult era of basketball  and dealt with larger NCAA tournament fields, but Wooden had to win his conference tournament just to get into the Big Dance. Wooden had 4 undefeated UCLA teams. There hasn’t been an undefeated college basketball team since the Indiana team of 1976.

As you saw this year when a supremely talented Kentucky team they fell 2 games short of an undefeated season going undefeated is very difficult. What Krzyzewski has done is truly amazing, but what Wooden did was mind-boggling – almost beyond comprehension if you ask me. I think Krzyzewski would need win at least 2 more National Titles before I could consider putting him ahead of Wooden.

I can’t put Krzyzewsk ahead of Wooden at the moment, but if you’re Coach K, being the 2nd best coach of all-time in college basketball isn’t too bad.

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