Ranking Every Coach in the 2013 NCAA Tournament

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Coach K is at the head of the class, with four national titles and 11 trips to the Final Four.

<p> Ranking Every Coach in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, including Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Tom Izzo, Roy Williams, Billy Donovan, Jim Boeheim, Bill Self, Tubby Smith, Steve Fisher, Brad Stevens, Ben Howland, Thad Matta, Bruce Weber, Shaka Smart, Jim Larranaga, Jay Wright, Tom Crean, John Thompson III, Sean Miller, Bo Ryan, Bryce Drew and Andy Enfield.</p>

The NCAA Tournament is a results-based business for coaches. Having the best players or fanbase or reputation isn’t enough. Dean Smith couldn’t even make the Final Four with a team that had Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty and Kenny Smith. Jim Valvano ran wild after motivating a group of nobodies past the future Hall of Fame-laden “Phi Slamma Jamma” of Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

Like it or not, the NCAA Tournament is a proving ground for coaches. And the best in the business inevitably rise to the top. Who are the best suits with dry erase boards in this year’s Field of 64? (Sorry First Four losers.)

Here’s a rundown of the coaches in this year’s NCAA Tournament, broken down by tier — in terms of best results in previous tournaments — and ranked within their group of similarly accomplished peers.

NCAA Champions
It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got a ring. These are the nine coaches who have cut down the nets, for a combined 14 NCAA titles between them. It’s a mix of program builders and powerhouse caretakers. But each has proven capable of sealing the deal with a championship on the line.

1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
29th NCAA Tournament
11 Final Fours
4-time Champion (1991, ’92, 2001, ’10)
4-time Runner-up (’86, ’90, ’94, ’99)

Coach K finds a way, even if it takes a miracle shot from Christian Laettner to advance or an unanswered Hail Mary from Gordon Hayward at the buzzer to hold on for the win.

2. Rick Pitino, Louisville
18th NCAA Tournament
6 Final Fours
1996 Champion
1997 Runner-up

Pitino has famously taken three different schools (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville) to the Final Four and carries a perfect 10–0 record in Sweet 16 contests. 


3. Tom Izzo, Michigan State
16th NCAA Tournament
6 Final Fours
2000 Champion
2009 Runner-up

The method to Izzo’s March Madness has proven successful year after year, thanks to a physical, possession-by-possession, down-and-distance strategy that is football-like.

4. Roy Williams, North Carolina
23rd NCAA Tournament
7 Final Fours
2-time Champion (2005, ’09)
2-time Runner-up (1991, ’03)

Ol’ Roy has been an underachieving nice guy with several teams at both Kansas and North Carolina. But there’s no denying the Tourney success of Dean Smith’s protégé.


5. Billy Donovan, Florida
13th NCAA Tournament
2-time Champion (2006, '07)
2000 Runner-up
Billy the Kid went from being Rick Pitino's go-to-guy and right-hand-man to having one more title ring than his mentor along with a Pitino-esque 5–1 record in Sweet 16 contests.


6. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
30th NCAA Tournament
2003 Champion
2-time Runner-up (1987, ’96)

Boeheim was a victim of IU’s Keith Smart and a dominant UK team before riding Carmelo Anthony to a title. Still, the overrated Orange are usually overripe by March.


7. Bill Self, Kansas
15th NCAA Tournament
2008 Champion
2012 Runner-up

Self has coached three schools (Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas) to the Elite Eight, but also staggered to early losses — Round of 64 in 2005 and ’06, Round of 32 in ’10 — at KU.


8. Tubby Smith, Minnesota
17th NCAA Tournament
1998 Champion

Won it all — with “Pitino’s players,” according to the Big Blue Nation — in his first season at Kentucky, after leading both Tulsa and Georgia to the Sweet 16 previously.


9. Steve Fisher, San Diego State
13th NCAA Tournament
1989 Champion
2-time Runner-up (1992, ’93)

Made the NCAA title game three times in his first five seasons at Michigan, winning a championship as an interim coach and losing twice with the Fab Five. Not much since.

Runners-up
These guys have come within one win of a big pay raise and bump in historical status. They’ve been there, but they haven’t quite done that. Keep in mind, four of the top six coaches on this list lost the NCAA title before they climbed the ladder to cut down nets.


10. Brad Stevens, Butler
5th NCAA Tournament
2-time Runner-up
(2010, '11)
It doesn’t take Nate Silver or Joe Lunardi to know that the 36-year-old wunderkind Stevens is a chess master in March.


11. Ben Howland, UCLA
10th NCAA Tournament
3 Final Fours
2006 Runner-up

Howland’s star has faded considerably since making three straight trips to the Final Four (2006-08) in his early days at UCLA.

12. Thad Matta, Ohio State
11th NCAA Tournament
2 Final Fours
2007 Runner-up

It took a healthy Greg Oden to get Matta to the title game. Generally speaking, the Buckeyes treat NCAA games like BCS bowls.


13. Bruce Weber, Kansas State
9th NCAA Tournament
2005 Runner-up

The bottom has fallen out on Weber’s brackets since Deron Williams and Dee Brown led the Illini to the final Monday in 2005.


Final Four
This group has either shocked the world or barely lived up to Final Four expectations. Experiencing the final weekend is huge. Handling the hype is easier said than done, but much easier after seeing how it’s done — albeit from a loser’s prospective.

14. Shaka Smart, VCU
3rd NCAA Tournament
2011 Final Four
Havoc ensues when Smart’s teams take the court. No one should be Shaka-ed if and when the Rams win in March.

15. Jim Larranaga, Miami
6th NCAA Tournament
2006 Final Four

Leader of arguably the greatest Cinderella story in Big Dance history — CAA at-large berth George Mason’s run to the Final Four.


16. Jay Wright, Villanova
10th NCAA Tournament
2009 Final Four
4 Sweet 16s

The best-dressed coach has never been best in show at the Big Dance but Wright has lived up to expectations most years.


17. Tom Crean, Indiana
7th NCAA Tournament
2003 Final Four
2 Sweet 16s

Dwyane Wade showed flashes of otherworldly superstardom en route to Marquette making the Final Four. Can Crean take credit?


18. John Thompson III, Georgetown
9th NCAA Tournament
2007 Final Four
2 Sweet 16s

The son and namesake of the 1984 NCAA champion Georgetown coach, JT3 has yet to match is dad’s level of Tourney success.


19. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma
14th NCAA Tournament
1994 Final Four
3 Sweet 16s

Kruger has taken five schools (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and Oklahoma) dancing, but has just three Sweet 16 trips.

20. Mike Montgomery, Cal
16th NCAA Tournament
1998 Final Four
3 Sweet 16s

Monty knew how to disappoint when he was the boss On the Farm at Stanford. Luckily, hopes haven’t been as high at Cal.


Elite Eight
These coaches have all been one win away from the promised land of the Final Four, where the buffalo wings are hot, the beer is cold and the brackets are completely broken.

21. Sean Miller, Arizona
6th NCAA Tournament
2 Elite Eights
3 Sweet 16s


22. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
12th NCAA Tournament
2005 Elite Eights
5 Sweet 16s


23. Bob McKillop, Davidson
7th NCAA Tournament
2008 Elite Eight


24. Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh
9th NCAA Tournament
2009 Elite Eight
3 Sweet 16s


25. John Beilein, Michigan
8th NCAA Tournament
2005 Elite Eight
2 Sweet 16s


26. Mark Gottfried, NC State
9th NCAA Tournament
2004 Elite Eight
2 Sweet 16s


27. Larry Eustachy, Colorado State
5th NCAA Tournament
2000 Elite Eight


Sweet 16
The second weekend of the NCAA Tournament is the bare minimum for some programs and a rare thrill for others. There’s plenty of name recognition in this group. But the potential has yet to match the production in March.

28. Buzz Williams, Marquette
5th NCAA Tournament
2 Sweet 16s


29. Mark Few, Gonzaga
14th NCAA Tournament
4 Sweet 16s 


30. Steve Alford, New Mexico
7th NCAA Tournament
1999 Sweet 16


31. Mike Brey, Notre Dame
11th NCAA Tournament
2003 Sweet 16


32. John Groce, Illinois
3rd NCAA Tournament
2012 Sweet 16


33. Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
5th NCAA Tournament
2012 Sweet 16


34. Randy Bennett, Saint Mary's
4th NCAA Tournament
2010 Sweet 16


35. Tommy Amaker, Harvard
3rd NCAA Tournament
2000 Sweet 16

Round of 32
Coaches who have a win on Thursday or Friday, but have yet to triumph on Saturday or Sunday in order to punch their tickets to the second weekend of the Big Dance. For a few small school underdogs, one win in the Tourney is a David vs. Goliath story that lives forever. For others, failing to move forward is a major step backward.

36. Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
2nd NCAA Tournament
2012 Round of 32

37. Bob Thomason, Pacific
4th NCAA Tournament
2 Rounds of 32

38. Dana Altman, Oregon
9th NCAA Tournament
2 Rounds of 32

39. Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
4th NCAA Tournament
2010 Round of 32

40. Mike McConathy, Northwestern State
3rd NCAA Tournament
2006 Round of 32

41. Greg McDermott, Creighton
5th NCAA Tournament
2012 Round of 32

42. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
9th NCAA Tournament
2007 Round of 32

43. Fran Dunphy, Temple
15th NCAA Tournament
2 Rounds of 32

44. Tad Boyle, Colorado
2nd NCAA Tournament
2012 Round of 32

45. Jim Crews, Saint Louis
5th NCAA Tournament
1989 Round of 32

46. Frank Haith, Missouri
3rd NCAA Tournament
2008 Round of 32

Winless in NCAA
Earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament implies either a conference tournament championship or national respect — or both. But it doesn’t guarantee a win once the Tourney tips off. These coaches have yet to earn a ‘W’ in the Dance.

47. Rick Byrd, Belmont
0–5 in NCAA Tournament

48. Will Brown, Albany
0–2 in NCAA Tournament

49. Marvin Menzies, New Mexico State
0–2 in NCAA Tournament

50. Keith Dambrot, Akron
0–2 in NCAA Tournament

51. Josh Pastner, Memphis
0–2 in NCAA Tournament

52. Dave Rice, UNLV
0–1 in NCAA Tournament

53. Dave Paulsen, Bucknell
0–1 in NCAA Tournament

54. Scott Nagy, South Dakota State
0–1 in NCAA Tournament

55. Wayne Tinkle, Montana
0–2 in NCAA Tournament

56. Tim Cluess, Iona
0–1 in NCAA Tournament

First Four Winners
Still trying to figure out the First Four. Still not liking it. But they’ve survived and “advanced,” I guess.

57. Cy Alexander, North Carolina A&T
6th NCAA Tournament
2013 First Four

58. Ray Harper, Western Kentucky
2nd NCAA Tournament
2012 First Four

59. John Giannini, La Salle
1st NCAA Tournament
2013 First Four

60. Matt Brady, James Madison
1st NCAA Tournament
2013 First Four

First Big Dance
A great group of coaches making their debut in the NCAA Tournament, highlighted by Mr. One Shining Moment and a man whose supermodel Mrs. has been stealing the show.

61. Bryce Drew, Valparaiso

62. Andy Enfield, Florida Gulf Coast


63. Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss

64. Roman Banks, Southern


 

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