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Ranking the Top 50 College Basketball Coaches for 2015-16


Not all decisions in these coach rankings are easy. If we wanted it to be easy, we’d simply put together a list of wins and go from there.

But not all wins are equal and not all coaching jobs are equal.

In determining our top 50 coaches, we attempted to look at a variety of factor: Past success, regular season records, conference records, NCAA Tournament results, head-to-head rankings, team trends and records relative to the history of the program.

Picking our No. 1 coach in this year’s rankings was easier than in most years. Our pick has the most wins of any major college basketball coach, the most NCAA championships of any living coach, and he shows no sign of slowing down.

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Ranking the Top 50 College 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. John Calipari, Kentucky

Record at Kentucky: 190–38, 82–20 SEC

NCAA record: 47–15, six Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Calipari has reached the Final Four five times since 2008. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo (three times) is the only other coach to make it there more than twice in that span.

Why he’s ranked here: The newly inducted Naismith Hall of Fame coach is one of the most divisive figures in the sport, but he’s done arguably the best coaching job of his career in just the last year or so. Kentucky regrouped to reach the Final Four as a No. 8 seed in 2014. The following season, Calipari balanced NBA-bound egos for a balanced, defensive-minded team that started 38–0.

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3. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

Record at Michigan State: 495-199, 233-107 Big Ten

NCAA record: 46-17, seven Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Izzo’s first three Final Four teams were No. 1 seeds. His last four were seeded seventh (2015), fifth (2010, 2005) and second (2009).

Why he’s ranked here: Izzo is 15 years removed from his national championship, but he’s on one of the best runs of his career. Michigan State has won at least 27 games in seven of the last eight seasons.

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4. 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.

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5. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

Record at Wisconsin: 357-125, 172-68 Big Ten

NCAA record: 25-14, two Final Fours

Number to note: Ryan is 42-24 against Tom Izzo, John Beilein and Thad Matta. He’s also the only one of the four with a winning record against each of the other three.

Why he’s ranked here: Will he retire or won’t he? Either way, Ryan just capped the best two-year span of what’s likely a Hall of Fame career. If Wisconsin slips back to pre-Kaminsky/Dekker levels, that’s still a top-four finish in the Big Ten and an NCAA appearance.

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6. Bill Self, Kansas

Record at Kansas: 352-78, 164-36 Big 12

NCAA record: 37-16, two Final Fours, one championship

Number to note: Some perspective for Self’s 11 consecutive Big 12 championships: John Wooden holds the record of consecutive league titles with 13 from 1967-79.

Why he’s ranked here: Fred Hoiberg and Frank Martin have come and gone. Kevin Durant couldn’t do it. Neither could Blake Griffin. Missouri isn’t even in the conference anymore. Nearly every Big 12 program over the last decade has had a shot an unseating Kansas at the top and ultimately failed to unseat Self.

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7. Sean Miller, Arizona

Record at Arizona:163-52, 79-29 Pac-12

NCAA record:17-8

Number to note:Not only has Miller been to either the Elite Eight or Sweet 16 in each of his last six trips to the NCAA Tournament, Miller has never been knocked out of the Tourney by a team seeded lower than third.

Why he’s ranked here:Miller is only 46 and on the short list of best coaches in the game. He’s seeking his first Final Four, but he’s already on a Hall of Fame trajectory.

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8. 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.

9. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

Record at Wichita State: 204–76, 101–43 Missouri Valley

NCAA Tournament: 8–11, one Final Four

Number to note: Seven coaches have won 30 or more games twice in the last three seasons. Marshall is the only one to do it each of the last three seasons.

Why he’s ranked here: In the last three seasons, Marshall has delivered a Final Four, a 35–0 start and a win over Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. What’s next in his final season with Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker?

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10. 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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