Top Five Active Coaches in College Basketball


With the recruiting period for the 2011-2012 season wrapping up and the start of the college basketball season several months away, I feel it’s appropriate to discuss the upper echelon of coaches in the game today. The top five to be more specific. Credentials for this list include total number of national championships, regular conference season and postseason success as well as overall performance in the NCAA tournament, particularly deep tournament coaching performances. Let’s take a look at who cracked the top five.

5. Bill Self University of Kansas
Whether it’s Tulsa, Oral Roberts, Illinois or Kansas, Bill Self has found ways to win at any stage in college basketball. Self is known for his relentless recruiting style as well as his ability to develop players (particularly big men) into NBA-ready contributors. Self’s 2008 national championship and repeated deep NCAA tournament finishes solidify his place in the top five.

4. Roy Williams University of North Carolina
Roy Williams held the ‘choke’ label throughout most of his time coaching Kansas for repeatedly taking talent-loaded squads deep into the tournament and consistently falling short. That label was shrugged off soon after his tenure at North Carolina began, winning two national championships in his first six years at Chapel Hill.

3. Jim Calhoun University of Connecticut
What a difference one year can make. Had you asked me before the 2011 NCAA tournament began who my top five coaches were, Jim Calhoun wouldn’t have made the list. He wouldn’t have made my top seven or eight. That was before Kemba Walker put Calhoun and the entire state of Connecticut on his back during UCONN’s improbable run to the national championship this year. That and two other championships put Calhoun right back in the top 5, where he shall remain for a while.

2. Tom Izzo Michigan State University
No other coach in college basketball has consistently fielded championship contending tournament teams as many times as Tom Izzo. While having ‘just’ one national championship to boast for, Izzo has continually impressed with his ability to reach the final four (six times in 15 years) and his perennial success in a competitive Big Ten conference.

1. Mike Krzyzewski Duke University
It’s the obvious number one, right? Throughout Mike Krzyzewski’s time at Duke, he’s accumulated four national championships, 11 final fours and 13 ACC tournament championships (12 regular season titles). Coach K is single-handedly responsible for putting Duke on the college basketball map. Keeping his team at or around number one in the polls year in and year out isn’t too shabby either. You can love or hate the Blue Devils all you want (and trust me it’s easy to hate with the pretentious ‘Cameron Crazies’ clogging up Sportscenter all the time), at the end of the day Coach K sits above all in the college basketball realm.

Now for the names that didn’t make the list. Jim Boeheim could have easily replaced Bill Self at number five, however his lack of tournament consistency keeps him at bay. John Calipari will show you a list of incredible NBA players he’s had the pleasure of recruiting/coaching. Heck he’d even show you a list of players he has coming into Lexington in the next few years that will be proven NBA talent in years to come. The one list he can’t show you is the one with national championships won. Rick Pitino can make an argument but I just never seem to trust him when the pressure is on. Billy Donovan is a name that should be considered at the top with back-to-back national championships on his résumé. Inconsistent conference play and mediocre recruiting classes have kept his name of the college basketball radar ever since. Let’s give Brad Stevens a few more years to see if he can start bringing in 5-star recruits to Indianapolis. I’m pretty sure Coach K started at the bottom and look at where his name is on the list.