Power Ranking the Top 10 Head Coaches in the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystMarch 18, 2013

Power Ranking the Top 10 Head Coaches in the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament

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    The most memorable moments in NCAA tournament history revolve around players. From Christian Laettner's late-game heroics to Carmelo Anthony's freshman foray, the guys with the ball in their hands at the end of contests often become the face of national title runs.

    However, it's important to remember these hardwood heroes were attached at the hip with premier head coaches during those championship chases. A floor general will find it hard to operate without a great leader on the sidelines diagramming plays and maximizing the potential of his rotation.

    Those are the men we focus on here. The coaches currently embarking on yet another NCAA tourney journey are not created equal, but they've each enjoyed success at the highest level of college hoops.

    Our list includes Hall of Fame inductees and young up-and-comers who seem destined to eventually take up the mantle as the game's greats once their older contemporaries decide to step aside. We had to leave off a number of coaches who deserve recognition (Shaka Smart, Bo Ryan and John Thompson III to name a few), but that only illustrates the depth of exceptional coaches currently competing for the 2013 NCAA championship. 

    Here's a look at the best of the bunch in this year's bracket.

10. Tom Crean, Indiana

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    Pedigree

    Crean has returned Indiana to its place among the national elite for the first time since the Bobby Knight era reached its tumultuous conclusion. While at Marquette, he oversaw the team's transition from Conference USA to the Big East and reached the Final Four in 2003 with star guard Dwyane Wade.

     

    Sizzle Factor

    The road to a No. 1 seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament was bumpy in Crean's early years at Indiana. The Hoosiers faithful were ready to move on after Crean went 8-46 against Big Ten opponents during his first three seasons in the job.

    Times have changed, and Crean has quickly become a state icon after leading the program to the Sweet 16 in 2012 and a regular season conference title this season. When brothers-in-law Jim and John Harbaugh met in the Super Bowl, he was among the luminaries on the sidelines.

     

    Quick Fact

    During this landmark season for Crean and Indiana, the Hoosiers spent all but two weeks ranked among the nation's top five teams and earned the program's first regular season Big Ten championship since 2002.

9. Mark Few, Gonzaga

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    Pedigree

    Few has won 80 percent of his games at Gonzaga, the only college program he has ever led. His list of achievements with the Bulldogs includes 10 West Coast Conference championships and 14 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. 

     

    Sizzle Factor

     Few has changed the perception of Gonzaga basketball during his tenure. Long considered one of the nation's annual NCAA tournament spoilers, the Bulldogs have stepped up to the role of basketball bully. This season, Gonzaga earned the top spot in national rankings for the first time in school history and secured its first No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.

     

    Quick Fact

    Few has never taken the Bulldogs beyond the Sweet 16, which is why he isn't ranked higher on this list.

8. Brad Stevens, Butler

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    Pedigree

    The 36-year-old is the youngest member of this bunch, but he has accomplished quite a lot since beginning his head coaching career in 2007. Stevens has led the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament in five of six seasons, including consecutive championship game appearances against Duke (2010) and UConn (2011). 

     

    Sizzle Factor

    When Butler burst onto the scene as a national title contender in 2010, the national college basketball audience quickly became enthralled with the baby-faced 33-year-old who beat Jim Boeheim and Tom Izzo on his way to a tightly contested NCAA championship showdown against Mike Krzyzewski. The program has cashed in on recent success and will join the new Big East in 2013.

     

    Quick Fact

    Stevens has won at least 26 games in five of his six seasons at the helm.

7. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

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    Pedigree

     Boeheim is one of just seven coaches to accumulate 900 wins in a career. He has led Syracuse to three national title games, winning the 2003 championship. Boeheim was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.

     

    Sizzle Factor

     The coach is a Syracuse lifer, spending his time on the Orange sideline since 1969 (serving as an assistant until 1976). Prior to his coaching career, Boeheim was a four-year member of the basketball program, suiting up as a guard. The familiarity and recognition he receives in upstate New York ranks him among the nation's true coaching icons. 

     

    Quick Fact

     Syracuse has missed the NCAA tournament just seven times since Boeheim took over the program. The Orange competed in the NIT in six of those seasons.

6. Billy Donovan, Florida

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    Pedigree

    Donovan is the only coach to lead his team to consecutive NCAA tournament titles in the last 20 years. The Gators won back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007. He nearly became head coach of the Orlando Magic in 2007 before committing to stay in Gainesville.

     

    Sizzle Factor

    Donovan burst onto the season as Providence's point guard in 1987. Dubbed "Billy the Kid," he helped Rick Pitino's Friars advance to the program's first Final Four appearance and earned regional MVP honors.

     

    Quick Fact

     Donovan has led Florida to back-to-back appearances in the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight round.

5. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

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    Pedigree

     Known as one of the nation's most beloved "players' coaches," Izzo has enjoyed sustained success since taking over as the Spartans head coach in 1995. He's reached six Final Fours, including three straight between 1999-2001. Izzo led Michigan State to the 2000 championship.

     

    Sizzle Factor

     Izzo helped Michigan State emerge as the preeminent in-state power, leading it to an abundance of success compared to rival Michigan during the past two decades. 

     

    Quick Fact

     His coaching tree includes former assistants Tom Crean (Indiana), Stan Heath (South Florida) and Doug Wojcik (College of Charleston).

4. Rick Pitino, Louisville

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    Pedigree

     Pitino owns a .730 win percentage at the collegiate level. He tested the NBA waters with a pair of lackluster stints (New York and Boston Celtics), but has settled in as a college coach and continues to win at a rapid rate.  

    Pitino has led Louisville, Boston University and Providence to postseason tournaments. He claimed the 1996 national championship with Kentucky. His Cardinals just captured the Big East tournament title before realignment changes the conference landscape forever.

     

    Sizzle Factor

     Known as one of the country's premier recruiters, Pitino's passionate personality perennially resonates with his roster. He gained notoriety as a college basketball figure during his playing days at UMass, where he led the team in assists as a junior and senior. Love it or hate it, his white suits have only helped expand his image as a legendarily charismatic coach.

     

    Quick Fact

     Pitino has reached the Final Four six times since 1987. Louisville advanced to the Final Four in 2012, his second visit with the Cardinals.

3. Bill Self, Kansas

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    Pedigree

     Self has enjoyed immense success at Kansas since replacing Roy Williams, who departed to coach North Carolina in 2003. The 50-year-old has spent a decade on the Jayhawks bench, winning the 2008 national championship and six Big 12 tournament titles.

     

    Sizzle Factor

    Prior to his time in Lawrence, Self spearheaded impressive reclamation projects at Oral Roberts and Tulsa. In 1997, he led Oral Roberts to its first postseason appearance since 1984. In 2000, Tulsa tallied a school-record 32 victories and reached the Elite Eight for the first time.

    Self earned his way up the coaching ladder by turning around dormant programs and gained respect from fellow college coaches for those accomplishments.

     

    Quick Fact

     Dating back to his time at Tulsa and Illinois, Self has now made 15 straight trips to the NCAA tournament.

2. Roy Williams, North Carolina

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    Pedigree

     Williams proved himself as an elite coaching mind in two of the country's most revered college basketball conferences. He earned three Big 12 tournament titles with Kansas and has since won two ACC postseason tourneys at North Carolina. 

    Williams gained the reputation as a coach who couldn't win the big one while at Kansas, but has reversed that notion in Chapel Hill. He led the Tar Heels to national championships in 2005 and 2009.

     

    Sizzle Factor

     The 2007 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee has coached a number of eventually NBA standouts, including Paul Pierce, Kirk Hinrich, Raef LaFrentz, Tyler Hansbrough, Marvin Williams and Ty Lawson. Williams continues to pull in premier recruiting classes every year.

     

    Quick Fact

     Williams has led North Carolina to at least the Elite Eight in six of the last eight seasons.

1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

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    Pedigree

     Coach K is cemented as a member of basketball's Mount Rushmore of coaches. Krzyzewski ranks first all-time in victories among Division I coaches.

    The four-time NCAA champion was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 and led Team USA to consecutive gold-medal victories in the 2008 and 2012 summer Olympic games. He is the all-time NCAA tournament wins leader with 79 victories in the Big Dance.

     

    Sizzle Factor

     Few men are more respected in the basketball world than Coach K. Kobe Bryant said he would've played for Duke if he hadn't made the direct leap from high school to the NBA.

    During Krzyzewski's time with Team USA, he also became a mentor for LeBron James, according to ESPN.com reporter Eamonn Brennan. 

    “We have a great relationship,” James said. “We’ve been together since ’05, and our relationship has grown every year. I’ve grown from a young man into a man into a leader of that team. He’s helped me develop that. I give a lot of credit to him.”

     

    Quick Fact

     Duke has won at least 22 games every season since 1996.

     

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