NCAA Sweet 16 Power Rankings: The Top Coaches Left

Michael PerchickCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2011

NCAA Sweet 16 Power Rankings: The Top Coaches Left

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    Upset after upset, David seemed to slay Goliath every which way after the first weekend.  The Big East saw nine of its 11 teams knocked out in the first round, continuing their tradition of choking in the NCAA Tournament, while non-Big Six darlings VCU and Richmond cruised to the Sweet 16.

    Here we review the coaches of each of the remaining teams left in the tournament:

Shaka Smart, VCU

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    Give Smart all the credit in the world—VCU has never won more than one game in the NCAA tournament before this season.  They've won three—all as underdogs, and all in dominant fashion.  

    While everybody, including myself, is pulling for VCU to continue their magical run, Smart is only in his second year as a head coach.  He's 33-years-old, and despite his initial success in the tournament, very few coaches his age with his lack of experience get even this far.

    Shaka's looked Smart so far, and hopefully for the Rams, it continues. 

Chris Mooney, Richmond

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    Richmond was a popular upset pick on many brackets (I had them making the Sweet 16), and the Spiders have not disappointed. They knocked off Vanderbilt in the first round, before blowing out Morehead State to reach the Sweet 16.

    Like Smart, Mooney is a young coach (38), but he has a lot more experience.  In his seventh year as a head coach, and his sixth at Richmond, Mooney led the Spiders to their first NCAA tournament during his reign last season, when they were knocked out in the first round.  This year is the first time Mooney's ever won an NCAA tournament game as either a player (at Princeton), an assistant coach (at Air Force), and head coach (Air Force and Richmond).  

Leonard Hamilton, Florida State

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    Hamilton is one of the most experienced coaches left in the tournament, serving as a head coach for four teams since 1986 (Oklahoma State, Miami (Fl.), Washington Wizards and Florida State).  In his 23 seasons as a head coach in college basketball, Hamilton has never led a team past the Sweet 16.

    With that said, he is also the only coach ever to be named Coach of the Year in both the Big East and ACC, and has lead FSU to the Big Dance in three consecutive seasons.  This season, Florida State leads the country in opponent field percentage, a key reason for their run in the tournament. 

Dave Rose, Brigham Young University

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    All Rose has done since coming to Provo is win, win, and win some more.  His career record at BYU is 158-44, good enough for a ridiculous 78.2 winning percentage.  

    Of course, winning isn't too hard when you have Jimmer Fredette, the top candidate for National Player of the Year.  In Rose's first three tries in the NCAA tournament, BYU was bounced in the first round.  Last season, it knocked off Florida in double overtime, before falling in the second round.  Finally this season, they advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1981. 

Buzz Williams, Marquette

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    Coming into the tournament, I thought Marquette was a bubble team.  A weekend into the tournament, they're one of the only two Big East teams left.

    Williams has led Marquette to the Big Dance in all three of his seasons at the school, but never this far.  Last season, Marquette was upset in the first round by 11th-seeded Washington.  This season, it has been the Golden Eagles pulling off the upsets, knocking off sixth-seeded Xavier and third-seeded (and Big East cohort) Syracuse.

Bo Ryan, Wisconsin

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    Ryan is one of the top coaches in the game, at the helm of one of the most consistent programs in the country.  Ryan has won four D-3 NCAA championships, and has led Wisconsin to the NCAA tournament all 10 years he has been the head coach.  

    That's the good.  The bad?  Wisconsin has made it past the Sweet 16 only once, when they made a run to the Elite Eight in the 2004-2005 season.  

    He's currently third all time on Wisconsin's all-time wins list, and this may be the season he can finally get this team to the Final Four. 

Sean Miller, Arizona

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    Miller is in his second year at Arizona, and has returned the program to the top of the Pac-10.  Before coming to 'Zona, Miller led Xavier to four NCAA tournament appearances in five seasons, including a magical run to the Elite Eight in 2007-2008.  

    He's led his teams to the NCAA tournament five times in seven seasons, and to the Sweet 16 three times.  

Steve Fisher, San Diego State

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    Fisher is a tough coach to judge.  In 1988-1989, he took over for the resigned Bill Frieder and led Michigan to the NCAA championship.  His unparalleled success at Michigan, which included the Fab Five stint, was overshadowed by various off-court allegations, and his eventual firing. 

    He is one of only eight coaches ever to win both an NCAA championship and NIT championship, and is one of the most experienced coaches in the game with over 400 victories to his name.  

Brad Stevens, Butler

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    Butler's baby-faced head coach has led the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament in all four years of his tenure, including an incredible run to the NCAA finals last season, where they fell just short of knocking off Duke.

    His 114-26 record is good enough for an 82.6 winning percentage, higher than any other coach left in the tournament.  

    Butler struggled a bit this season, but have rebounded strongly, and their improbable win over top-seed Pittsburgh, coupled with their buzzer-beater victory over Old Dominion has given them a ton of confidence heading to the Sweet 16. 

Thad Matta, Ohio State

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    Matta has led three teams to the NCAA tournament the last 11 seasons, missing the Big Dance only once in 2007-2008.  Appropriately, Matta led the Buckeyes to the NIT championship that season.

    Matta led Xavier to the Elite Eight in 2003-2004, and to the championship game in 2006-2007 where they fell to eventual champion Florida. 

    Matta has been named Coach of the Year for the Horizon League, Atlantic 10, and Big 10.  

John Calipari, Kentucky

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    Officially, Calipari has never coached in the Final Four.  Both teams he led to the Final Four (UMass in 1995-1996 and Memphis in 2007-2008), had their records vacated due to off-court issues.

    Controversy has surrounded Calipari wherever he's gone, though his career winning percentage of 77.1 percent is tough to top.  In only his second season at Kentucky, he's restored pride to a program that hasn't done much since the early part of the Tubby Smith-era. 

Bill Self, Kansas

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    There are two schools of thought on Self: a) his teams at Kansas have underachieved far too many times to justify only one NCAA championship, or b) he did what Roy Williams couldn't: win an NCAA championship at Kansas.

    I'm in the middle on this one.  He led Tulsa and Illinois to the Elite Eight in back-to-back seasons (in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001), and Kansas to the NCAA championship in 2007-2008.  His teams have finished first or tied for first the last seven seasons in the Big 12, though many Jayhawk fans still can't get last season's shocking loss to Northern Iowa out of their system. 

Billy Donovan, Florida

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    Donovan has two NCAA championships to his name, and a NCAA-runner up in 2000.  When he's won, he's won big, making at least the finals three of the four times his team has reached at least the Sweet 16.  But six of the 11 times his teams have made the tournament, they've been ousted by the end of the first weekend.

    Donovan is only one of four coaches on the list with two rings to his name.  

Jim Calhoun, UConn

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    Calhoun has been a staple of men's basketball for decades, and his 840 wins have helped him land in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

    He's been a head coach since 1972, and has held the top position at UConn since 1986.  This season was supposed to be a transition year for the Huskies, but behind Kemba Walker, UConn surprised many with a big run in the Big East tournament, earning them a No. 3 seed in the tournament.

    He's won seven Big East tournaments and made three Final Fours during his run at UConn, coaching a number of NBA All-Stars during his tenure. 

Roy Williams, North Carolina

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    Williams had an incredibly successful tenure at Kansas, but never could win the big one.  Twice he led Kansas to the finals, and twice his teams had to settle for the runner-up.

    But since coming to UNC, Roy hasn't had the same problem.  He's already captured two NCAA championships in seven full seasons at his alma mater. 

    He's led his teams to the Final Four seven times in his career, and is both a College Basketball Hall of Famer and a Basketball Hall of Famer. 

    But he falls just short to....

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

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    ...his hated rival, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.  Coach K has led the Blue Devils to four NCAA championships, 11 Final Fours, and is second all time on the wins list with 900.  He's only two wins behind Bobby Knight for most all time, a record he's certain to break if not in this tournament, then next season.

    Coach K has led his team to 13 ACC championships, and is both a College Basketball and Basketball Hall of Famer.  

    Few coaches receive as much hatred as Coach K, who leads one of the most hated teams in the country.  But usually hatred and respect go hand-in-hand, as Duke has been one of, if not, the most successful program in college basketball during his reign.