We pay so much attention to the regular-season records and the star players that make up the best teams. We often overlook the brains behind the success.
Head coaches are just as big of a factor as an elite player or experienced roster. If a team isn’t well-coached, chances are they will be heading home early. Coaching is definitely a huge factor when I’m making my bracket predictions.
This article takes a closer look at the impact a head coach can have on a team in the NCAA Tournament.
Active NCAA Tournament Head Coaches: Wins, Final Four, & Championships
Below is a look at the all the active head coaches with 20 or more games in the NCAA Tournament. After compiling the list of coaches that met this criteria, we looked a lot of different things. All of which you can find in the table below.
We gathered the info on the number of appearances in the big dance and the win/loss records. We also took a look at the win percentage. As well as the number of Final Fours, Runner-ups and Championships.
You can easily search for any coach or school using the search boxes below. I also want to point out that all of the stats can be sorted, so you can look at on specific area if you want.
As you can see, every coach on this list has made at least 8 appearances in March Madness. Only 13 have appeared in 15 or more. The leaders in terms of trips to the Big Dance are Mike Krzyewski and Jim Boeheim. Each has been a ridiculous 32 times.
One thing that might surprise you is just how hard it is to be successful. Only 7 have a winning percentage greater than 70%. No surprise many of these guys are the highest paid in the sport. What amazes me is how there’s a select few who dominate in Final 4 appearances. Just six guys listed have made 5 or more trips to the Final Four.
I’ll let you look at the rest of the numbers. Just be sure to keep scrolling down for more information.
|Coach||Current School||Appearances||Wins||Losses||Win %||Final Fours||Runner-Ups||Titles|
|Roy Williams||North Carolina||26||70||24||0.745||8||3||2|
|Tom Izzo||Michigan State||19||46||18||0.719||7||1||1|
|Ben Howland||Mississippi State||10||19||10||0.655||3||1||0|
|Steve Fisher||San Diego Sate||15||26||14||0.65||3||2||1|
|Thad Matta||Ohio State||13||24||13||0.649||2||1||0|
|Tubby Smith||Texas Tech||18||30||17||0.638||1||0||1|
|Bob Huggins||West Virginia||22||29||22||0.569||2||0||0|
|Bruce Weber||Kansas State||10||11||10||0.524||1||1||0|
|Mike Brey||Notre Dame||13||12||13||0.48||0||0||0|
|Mark Gottfried||NC State||11||10||11||0.476||0||0||0|
|Gregg Marshall||Wichita State||12||10||12||0.455||1||0||0|
Top 10 NCAA Tournament Wins All-Time
1. Mike Kryzewski 90 (Duke)
2. Roy Williams 70 (Kansas, North Carolina)
3. Dean Smith 65 (North Carolina)
4. Jim Boeheim 57 (Syracuse)
5. Rick Pitino 53 (Providence, Kentucky, Louisville)
6. Jim Calhoun 49 (Connecticut)
7. John Calipari 48 (UMass, Memphis, Kentucky)
8. John Wooden 47 (UCLA)
T-9. Lute Olson 46 (Iowa, Arizona)
T-9. Tom Izzo 46 (Michigan State)
Top 10 National Championships All-Time
1. John Wooden 10 (UCLA)
2. Mike Kryzewski 5 (Duke)
3. Adolph Rupp 4 (Kentucky)
T-4. Bob Knight 3 (Indiana)
T-4. Jim Calhoun 3 (Connecticut)
T-6. Branch McCracken 2 (Indiana)
T-6. Henry Iba 2 (Oklahoma State)
T-6. Phil Woolpert 2 (San Francisco)
T-6. Ed Jucker 2 (Cincinnati)
T-6. Denny Crum 2 (Louisville)
T-6. Dean Smith 2 (North Carolina)
T-6. Roy Williams 2 (North Carolina)
T-6. Billy Donovan 2 (Florida)
T-6. Rick Pitino 2 (Kentucky, Louisville)
Top 10 Final Fours All-Time
T-1. Mike Kryzewski 12 (Duke)
T-1. John Wooden 12 (UCLA)
3. Dean Smith 11 (North Carolina)
4. Roy Williams 8 (Kansas, North Carolina)
T-5. Tom Izzo 7 (Michigan State)
T-5. Rick Pitino 7 (Providence, Kentucky, Louisville)
T-7. Denny Crum 6 (Louisville)
T-7. Adolph Rupp 6 (Kentucky)
T-9. Jim Boeheim 5 (Syracuse)
T-9. Bob Knight 5 (Indiana)
T-9. Guy Lewis 5 (Houston)
T-9. Lute Olsen 5 (Iowa, Arizona)
My Top 5 Active Head Coaches
#1 – Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)
This is an obvious choice. Coach K’s 90 career tourney wins are the most all-time. A ridiculous 20 more than next best. It comes as no surprise really with Krzyzewski coming from the Bob Knight school of coaching. Not only did he play for Knight at Army, he coached along side him at Indiana.
Coach K picked up a bunch of NCAA tourney wins from 1988-1992. He led the Blue Devils to five consecutive Final Fours. Winning back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992. Krzyzewski has since added three more championships (2001, 2010, 2015) . His 12 Final Four appearances are tied for the most all-time with the great John Wooden.
#2 – Tom Izzo (Michigan State)
You could argue that Izzo is deserving of consideration for the top spot. I just don’t know how you make a list and have Coach K anything but No. 1. What makes Izzo so special is that he gets the most out of his teams. Not to say he doesn’t recruit some of the best players in the country. He just doesn’t get the same level of talent as schools like Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, etc.
Izzo guided the Spartans to a championship in 2000. Some of you might remember that team. It was headlined by Mateen Cleaves and Morris Peterson. Overall he’s led Michigan State to 7 Final Four appearances and was the runner-up in 2009. Quite a resume for someone who has been named the National Coach of the Year on four separate occasions.
#3 – Roy Williams (North Carolina)
Roy Williams comes from the Dean Smith school of coaching and has made quite a name for himself. Williams started out at Kansas back in 1988. He left as the school’s second winningest coach in program history. Despite all kinds off success at Kansas, Williams was never able to win it all with the Jayhawks. His fortune quickly changed after he arrived in Chapel Hill.
He replaced Matt Dougherty in 2003 and had the Tar Heels cutting down the nets in 2005. He would add another title to his resume in 2009. Williams is currently 2nd all-time in NCAA Tournament wins with 70. He’s fourth in most Final Four appearances at 7. He had a streak of 20 consecutive seasons where he led his team to the NCAA Tournament. His team won at least one game in all 20 appearances. Williams just missed out on his 3rd title in 2016. The Tar Heels lost an epic back and forth battle with Villanova. Eventually losing on a last second shot.
#4 – Rick Pitino (Louisville)
Pitino was the first coach in history to win titles at two different schools. The first coming in 1996 with Kentucky and the second in 2013 with Louisville. He’s also one of just two coaches all-time to take three different teams to the Final Four. The other being Providence back in 1987. Pitino has made 7 trips to the Final Four. His 53 wins are fifth all-time.
#5 – John Calipari (Kentucky)
John Calipari has solidified himself as one of the top coaches in the game today. He’s the only other coach besides Pitino to have taken three different teams to the Final Four. Doing so with Massachusetts, Memphis and most recently Kentucky. Calipari won his first and only Championship in 2012 with the Wildcats. He also took Kentucky to back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2011 and 2012.
NCAA Tourney Coaches – Wins Lost or Gained
I looked at popular coaches who have appeared in five or more NCAA Tournaments win the same team since 1985.
Using their seed at the beginning of each tournament, I calculated their projected wins. (for example, a #2 seed would be expected to win three games and reach the Elite Eight).
Comparing the number to the actual wins each team had. I was able to come up with +/- wins number you see in the far right column.
These are the average wins each coach has earned above or below their seeding to this point in their career.
|Team||Coach||Appearances||Average Seed||+/- Wins|
|Michigan State||Tom Izzo||19||5||0.58|
|North Carolina||Roy Williams||12||3||0.17|
|San Diego State||Steve Fisher||8||8||-0.25|
|Ohio State||Thad Matta||8||4||-0.44|
*Data only includes coaching appearances with the team listed.
Coach Calapari comes in at the top of the list. This only includes his tenure at Kentucky, but keep in mind that his numbers are only over six seasons.
The Wildcats making the championship game as an 8 seed in 2014 skews his expectations quite a bit.
My takeaway from this is that Tom Izzo has been the best Big Dance coach in modern history. His teams consistently out-perform their seeding.
Some of the coaches on this list have suffered from having high expectations. Guys like Thad Matta and Bill Self have struggled, while Coach K and Roy Williams have done just fine.
If you are interested in more information about seeding, check out our tournament winners by seed article.
Best ATS Tournament Coaches
If you are entering bracket contests then you want to find winners. But, if you are making up a small portion of the $2.5 billion dollars bet on March Madness you want to know who cashes at the pay window. These are the head coaches with the best records against the spread since the 2005 tournament (minimum of five games required). Profit listed would be if you bet $110 to win $100 on each game for that coach.
|Jeff Capel III||6||4||2||66.7%||27.3%||$180|
|John Thompson III||17||7||10||41.2%||-21.4%||-$400|
*Data only includes coaches with five ATS results or more.