Who's the Better Big-Game Coach: UNC's Roy Williams or Duke's Coach K?

Nathan GieseSenior Analyst IIJuly 31, 2012

Who's the Better Big-Game Coach: UNC's Roy Williams or Duke's Coach K?

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    Debates will always rage on as to who is the best. Whether it's who has the best slice of pizza in Chicago or which shoe brand is better, the great debate is something everybody enjoys. For college basketball fans, one of the biggest debates is who is the better big-game coach: North Carolina's Roy Williams or Duke's Mike Krzyzewski?

    Both Williams and Krzyzewski are highly respected in their field.

    Each has his own accolades to be proud of and have led teams to the promised land on multiple occasions. It also doesn't hurt that Duke and North Carolina are not only two of the most prominent basketball programs in the country, but they have one of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports.

    Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski are two of the best in the country. In fact, they may be the absolute best.

    However, the question remains: when it matters the most, who is the better of the two in big-game situations?

    Let's examine the rivalry and the question itself:

     

     

     

    Disclaimer: all coaching stats are courtesy of statsheet.com.

Roy Williams Accolades

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    Coaching Career: (Years at school with win-loss record) via statsheet.com

    Kansas - 1988-2003; 418-101

    North Carolina - 2003-present; 257-68

    Career Totals: 24 seasons; 675-169

     

    Career Highlights:

    Roy Williams has had a stellar career both at Kansas and now with North Carolina. He's won two National Championships with the Tar Heels and led two different Kansas squads to the final four.

    Throughout his career, Roy Williams-led teams have been in the NCAA tournament every season except for one—the 2009-10 Tar Heels who lost in the NIT finals a year after winning the national championship.

    He was the winner of Sporting News' Coach of the Decade award for his accomplishments in the 2000's. Williams was also inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. Williams ranks second on the all-time Elite Eight appearances list (11), as well as fourth on the all-time Final Four appearances list (7).

     

    The Elite Eight appearances as of the 1985 when the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams.

Mike Krzyzewski Accolades

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    Coaching Career: (Years at school with win-loss record) via statsheet.com

    Army: 1975-1980; 73-59

    Duke: 1980-present; 854-232

     

    Career Accolades:

    While his time at Army wasn't remarkable, Coach K has become one of the greatest coaches in college basketball history. Leading four different teams to national championships, Krzyzewski has a reputation for showing emotion to help lead his young players to success.

    Krzyzewski was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001, the same year his third national title at Duke was won. He was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in 2011 and is a five-time ACC Coach of the Year. Coach K was even recognized by Time magazine for being "America's Best Coach" in 2011.

    Coach K has missed the NCAA tournament once in 1995 and has had fluctuating success in said tournament. However, he ranks first on the list of all-time Elite Eight appearances (12) and second on all-time Final Four appearances (11). Krzyzewski is also the all-time winningest coach in Division I college basketball history (927 and counting).

     

    The Elite Eight appearances as of the 1985 when the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams.

Coach Roy vs. Coach K Head-to-Head

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    Since this is a debate regarding big-game situations, it doesn't get much bigger than looking at the head-to-head encounters of the Krzyzewski-led Blue Devils and the Williams-led Tar Heels.

    Throughout his career in Cameron, Krzyzewski is 37-37 all-time against North Carolina. Williams is 8-7 against Duke while at North Carolina, but was 1-3 while with Kansas.

    As the numbers show, it is pretty even in the head-to-head battles between Krzyzewski and Williams. An even match-up between the two seems fitting, but it doesn't really help choose a winner for this debate.

    Now, we will have to dig deeper.

NCAA Tournament Records

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    The national title debate goes to Krzyzewski as he has four compared to Williams' two. However, the rest of the tournament success for both coaches could help us out here.

     

    By the numbers:

    Krzyzewski: 28 appearances, 79-23 record (.775)

    Williams: 22 appearances, 58-19 (.753)

    Once again, another dead end. In breaking this down, Coach K has been around the coaching circles 13 years longer than Williams.

    However, while Krzyzewski has been around longer, his first tournament appearance didn't come until 1983, only seven years before Williams' first in 1990. So, it does help a little, but there is still no clear cut winner.

    With this information, we move on.

Winning Close Games

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    Winning blowouts are easy, especially with the talent Duke and North Carolina offer each year. However, winning the close games when it matters most is where the men stand out from the boys.

    To clarify a close game, we will use the statsheet.com (links in earlier slides) system of games that are decided by six points or less.

     

    By the numbers:

    Krzyzewski: 136-111 (.551); 32-23 in overtime games (.582)

    Williams: 90-72 (.556); 17-14 in overtime games (.548)

    Again, no clear favorite in this category either. Both coaches have shown throughout their careers to be clutch when they are needed the most. They have the knowledge of the game to get their teams over the hump.

    Krzyzewski has the advantage right now because of his national championships, but far from running away with it. Now, the deciding factor:

International Competition

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    It may be a little unfair to give it to Mike Krzyzewski because of his involvement with the USA Olympic basketball team, but his coaching ability is a little unfair as well. Because of this, Coach K runs away as the clear winner.

    Coach K brought together a group of NBA All-Stars and made them into a team. The 2008 team had the weight of the entire country upon its shoulders, but Coach K never wavered at the pressure.

    It might be easy to say "They had the best team in the world, they should have won." Except, what was stopping the past teams from winning with that same mindset? It took a great coach to put all the pieces together.

    Currently, Krzyzewski is looking for another gold medal with Team USA. He has the players to do so and the coaching ability to keep the hope alive for his players.

    In reality, while it may be a little unfair for some to say Krzyzewski in this argument based upon this, there is no arguing that coaching, or playing, in the Olympics is the biggest stage in the world.

    The ability to perform when the entire world is watching you is something very few people can even imagine. Coach K owns up to what is expected of him with his Olympic team, making him, quite possibly, the best basketball coach in the entire world.

    It's saying a lot, yes, but it's a discussion worth having at some point.

Who You Got?

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    Coach K wins this debate right now, if only for his role as Team USA's head basketball coach. He's accomplished so many things over his career it's impossible to look past him in a discussion for best coaches.

    However, this view is not the only view. So this brings to question: in the Mike Krzyzewski vs. Roy Williams big-game debate, who you got?

     

     

     

     

    Feel free to open up the conversation on the Twitter machine with me @gieseflysouth.