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Ranking the ACC Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

Author:
Mike Krzyzewski

Mike Krzyzewski

Not only did Mike Krzyzewski win his fifth career national championship last season, he further ensured the ACC cornered the market on national title-winning coaches.

The ACC is the home of four coaches who have won a national title: Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim. Those four coaches have won more combined national titles (10) than the rest of the active coaches in college basketball (seven).

Besides those four title-winning coaches, the ACC has a fifth who has reached the Final Four (Miami’s Jim Larranaga) and some of the top coaches who would be on the short list of best coaches without a Final Four appearance (Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams and Pitt’s Jamie Dixon).

While other leagues have accomplished coaches and perhaps more coaches who have reached the Final Four, none of the star power of the ACC.

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Ranking the ACC Basketball Coaches for 2015-16

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1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

Record at Duke: 945-251, 378-152 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 88-26, 12 Final Fours, five championships

Number to note: Duke has produced six one-and-done players in the NBA Draft since 2011, second only to Kentucky’s 12.

Why he’s ranked here: At 68 years and 63 days, Krzyzewski became the second-oldest coach to win a national championship, and there’s no signs he’ll slow down. His team brings in four five-star prospects in 2015 to replace the three he lost from his fifth national championship team.

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2. Rick Pitino, Louisville

Record at Louisville: 368-126, 164-76 C-USA/Big East/AAC/ACC

NCAA Tournament: 53-18, seven Final Fours, two championships

Number to note: Pitino’s teams have ranked in the top five in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency in each of the last five seasons and seven of the last eight.

Why he’s ranked here: Last year’s team was not one of Pitino’s best, losing to most of the top squads in the ACC, save for narrow home wins over Carolina and Virginia. The Cards were still an OT loss to Michigan State away from reaching the Final Four.

Related: Athlon Sports preseason college basketball top 25

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3. Tony Bennett, Virginia

Record at Virginia: 136-64, 64-37 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 6-5

Number to note: Virginia’s record against the RPI top 50 has improved in each of the last five seasons from 0-6 to 2-6 to 4-3 to 5-4 to 8-3 in 2015.

Why he’s ranked here: The early NCAA Tournament exits in the last two seasons — both to Michigan State — will haunt Bennett, but the Cavaliers are coming off back-to-back 30-win seasons and ACC regular season titles despite lesser talent compared to teams like Duke, North Carolina and Louisville.

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4. Roy Williams, North Carolina

Record at North Carolina: 332-101, 141-57 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 65-23, seven Final Fours, two championships

Number to note: North Carolina is 23-1 against Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Florida State the last three seasons and 13-17 against the rest of the ACC.

Why he’s ranked here: Legacy. Williams’ two titles at two schools and Hall of Fame status can’t be denied, but the last three years (75-33) have been trying. With a veteran team, the Heels are built for a Final Four run in 2015-16. It would be their first since 2009 and perhaps their last for a while.

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5. Jim Boehiem, Syracuse

Record at Syracuse: 966-333, 446-203 Big East/ACC

NCAA Tournament: 53-30, four Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Boeheim’s 18 wins in 2014-15 — aided by a voluntary postseason ban — was his fewest since going 15-13 in 1981-82.

Why he’s ranked here: Boeheim will never get to 1,000 wins according to the NCAA record book (with vacated wins, he stands at 858). In the unofficial record book, Boeheim has two seasons to get 44 wins. Syracuse is 21-19 in its last 40 games after going 55-10 in the 65 prior.

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6. Mike Brey, Notre Dame

Record at Notre Dame: 332-165, 157-100 Big East/ACC

NCAA Tournament: 9-12

Number to note: Scoring down? Not for Notre Dame. Of Brey’s 15 teams in South Bend, 11 have averaged 70 points per game in conference play.

Why he’s ranked here: Last year’s trip to the Elite Eight was Notre Dame’s first time reaching the second weekend of the Tournament since 2003. Brey generally can be counted on for about 25 wins a year and pushing 30 wins every now and then.

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7. Jim Larranaga, Miami

Record at Miami: 91-49, 41-29 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 7-6, one Final Four

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Number to note: Miami is 7-2, 6-6 and 10-3 in the last three seasons on the road. The Hurricanes’ previous winning season on the road was in 1999-2000.

Why he’s ranked here: Larranaga might not match his banner year with Miami — a 29-win season and an ACC championship in 2013 — but last year’s 25 wins was still the second-most in school history. The ‘Canes will be in NCAA contention again this season.

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8. Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech

Record at Virginia Tech: 11-22, 2-16 ACC

NCAA Tournament record: 8-5

Number to note: Williams’ Marquette teams were ranked in the top 30 of KenPom in five consecutive seasons — each one except for his last.

Why he’s ranked here: Virginia Tech has been ill-equipped to compete in the ACC, both before Williams arrived and during his first season. After gutting the roster, Williams is ready to begin anew.

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9. Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh

Record at Pittsburgh: 307-111, 134-74 Big East/ACC

NCAA Tournament record: 12-10

Number to note: Pitt is 19-17 as an ACC member, including 0-10 against Duke, Louisville, NC State and Virginia.

Why he’s ranked here: The last four seasons have been an enigma for Dixon, who once led one of the most steady programs in the country in his first eight seasons at Pitt. The Panthers have missed two of the last four NCAA Tournaments and last year alone beat North Carolina and Notre Dame but lost to lowly Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

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10. Mark Gottfried, NC State

Record at NC State: 92-52, 39-31 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 10-11

Number to note: Gottfried’s five NCAA wins in four years (including two Sweet 16 appearances) is the most at NC State since the Jim Valvano heyday.

Why he’s ranked here: NC State is consistent (between 22-24 wins and 9-11 ACC wins every year) under Gottfried but also a bit of a roller coaster. This is a team good enough to reach the Sweet 16 and beat a top ACC team, but has never won more than three ACC games in a row during the regular season.

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11. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State

Record at Florida State: 285-173, 113-108 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 6-7

Number to note: During the last three seasons, Florida State is 1-19 against Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, NC State and Louisville and 25-9 against the rest of the league.

Why he’s ranked here: Hard to believe Hamilton is entering his 14th season at Florida State. He’s been able to get Florida State into NIT or NCAA Tournament in 10 of those seasons, including the 2011 Sweet 16. And that’s enough for Florida State.

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12. Danny Manning, Wake Forest

Record at Wake Forest: 13-19, 5-13 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 0-1

Number to note: Wake Forest’s last three ACC wins came against teams that reached the postseason (NC State, Miami and Pittsburgh).

Why he’s ranked here: Manning’s first season was worse than Jeff Bzdelik’s last, but Manning is rebuilding confidence in Wake Forest. He’ll need another year or two.

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13. Brad Brownell, Clemson

Record at Clemson: 90-73, 40-46 ACC

NCAA Tournament: 1-4

Number to note: Clemson has averaged fewer than 60 points per game in three consecutive seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: The Tigers can guard under Brownell but can’t score enough to finish better than 10-8 in the ACC or reach the NCAA Tournament since his first season.

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14. Jim Christian, Boston College

Record at Boston College: 13-19, 4-14 ACC

NCAA Record: 0-2

Number to note: Christian averaged 23.3 wins per season as head coach at Kent State and Ohio, never winning fewer than 21 games in a season. Christian has averaged 13.8 wins per season at TCU and Boston College, never winning more than 18.

Why he’s ranked here: Boston College is arguably the toughest job in the ACC, and Christian is rebuilding with freshmen. The rebuild will be long … if it occurs at all.

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15. Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech

Record at Georgia Tech: 55-71, 19-51 ACC

NCAA record: 1-2

Number to note: Gregory has never lost fewer than 12 games in the ACC, bottoming out at 3-15 last season.

Why he’s ranked here: To say this trajectory is less than ideal would be an understatement. A fifth year of the Gregory era at Georgia Tech is a mild surprise.