The 100 Greatest Coaches in College Basketball History

Thad NovakCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2011

The 100 Greatest Coaches in College Basketball History

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    College basketball players come and go, but coaches have a longevity rarely seen in any other sport. Names like Krzyzewski, Knight and Rupp are inextricably linked with the programs they turned into dynasties.

    UConn’s Jim Calhoun, who in March became the oldest coach to capture an NCAA championship, now has three such titles on his résumé.

    With Calhoun nearing the top five in all-time victories, he has taken his place among the greatest names in the coaching profession.

    Read on for more on Calhoun and the rest of the top 100 coaches in the history of the college game.

100. Brad Stevens

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    Four years is an awfully short time to earn a place on this list, but it’s hard to find fault with Brad Stevens’ performance so far.

    Stevens has compiled a 117-25 record while leading Butler to back-to-back NCAA championship games and a school-record four consecutive tournament berths.

99. Larry Brown

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    Although his NBA coaching accomplishments are better-known, Larry Brown made two NCAA title games in just seven collegiate seasons.

    His UCLA Final Four run was later vacated, but he took Kansas to five consecutive tournaments, two Final Fours and the Danny Manning-fueled 1988 national title.

98. Everett Case

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    Although Duke and North Carolina are the current powerhouses, much of the credit for basketball’s preeminence in the state of North Carolina belongs to former NC State coach Everett Case.

    The Wolfpack’s all-time wins leader with 377, Case won six consecutive championships in the Southern Conference (from which the ACC spun off) and four more in the ACC, making six NCAA tournaments in all.

    Image from hoophall.com

97. Ralph Willard

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    Currently an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville, Ralph Willard revived the basketball program at his alma mater, Holy Cross.

    Willard—who won 338 games in all between Western Kentucky, Pitt and Holy Cross—led the Crusaders to three consecutive NCAA tournaments, a Patriot League first, and earned one NIT and four NCAA bids for the program in all.

96. Howard Hobson

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    Although Howard Hobson took Yale to its first NCAA tournament in 1949, his larger legacy rests at Oregon.

    Hobson, who won 495 games in his career, led the 1938-39 Ducks—nicknamed the “Tall Firs” despite being tall only by 1939 standards—to the first-ever NCAA tournament title.

    Image from hoophall.com

95. Hec Edmundson

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    In 27 seasons as the head coach at Washington, Hec Edmundson won 488 games.

    Edmundson, a former track star who unsurprisingly favored fast-break offenses, also took the Huskies to their first NCAA tournament in 1943.

    Image from washingtonsportshof.com

94. Fred Schaus

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    Fred Schaus coached alma mater West Virginia for only six seasons, but he won 146 games and made the NCAA tournament all six years.

    With no small help from star guard Jerry West, Schaus’ Mountaineers made the national title game in 1959 for the only time in school history.

93. Jim Snyder

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    Despite playing in the shadow of the best Ohio State teams in history, Jim Snyder assembled an impressive record of his own with the Ohio Bobcats.

    Snyder won 355 games at Ohio, taking the school to the first seven of its 12 all-time NCAA tournament appearances.

    Image from ohiobasketballhalloffame.com

92. Dave Odom

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    Dave Odom (with more than a little help from prize recruit Tim Duncan) led Wake Forest to its first ACC tournament titles in three decades, winning in 1996 and 1997.

    In all, Odom’s Demon Deacons made eight NCAA tournaments and won one NIT, while Odom compiled a .645 regular season winning percentage.

91. Roy Skinner

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    With 278 career victories, Roy Skinner is the winningest coach in Vanderbilt history.

    Skinner also played a key role in integrating the SEC when he made Perry Wallace the first African-American player in conference history.

    Image from news.vanderbilt.edu

90. Stan Watts

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    When a coach writes a book called Developing an Offensive Attack in Basketball, it’s pretty clear where his priorities lie.

    Stan Watts won 371 games at BYU, and his 1966 NIT champs (one of two such titles he won) averaged 95.5 points a game.

    Image from hoophall.com

89. Hugh Durham

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    A first-class coach for some largely second-tier programs, Hugh Durham took both Florida State and Georgia to the only Final Four appearances in either school’s history.

    Durham also holds the distinction of being the winningest coach at three different schools: FSU, Georgia and Jacksonville.

    Image from hughdurhamaward.com

88. Skip Prosser

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    George "Skip" Prosser started his career with a bang, taking Loyola (MD) to the only NCAA tournament berth in school history in his first season as a head coach.

    Prosser went on to win 125 games at Xavier and 126 more at Wake Forest, making a combined nine NCAA tournament appearances between the two schools before his death from a heart attack in 2007.

87. Rick Stansbury

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    In 13 years at Mississippi State, Rick Stansbury has taken the Bulldogs to six of the 10 NCAA tournament appearances in school history.

    He surpassed his predecessor, Richard Williams, as the winningest coach in school history, a mark currently at 272 victories and counting.

86. Pete Gillen

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    The most successful coach in Xavier’s proud history, Pete Gillen won 202 games with the Musketeers.

    His teams made seven NCAA appearances in nine seasons, getting as far as the Sweet 16, and Gillen would later take Providence to the 1997 Elite 8.

85. Cam Henderson

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    Cam Henderson won 631 games as a basketball coach—mostly at Marshall, where he also coached football and baseball—but it’s not for his stats that he makes this list.

    Coaching in the early days of basketball’s rise as a college sport, Henderson is one of the coaches credited with inventing the 2-3 zone defense, an innovation that benefited a few other luminaries on this list.

    Image from dewv.edu

84. Charlie Spoonhour

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    Although Charlie Spoonhour won just 373 total games in his coaching career, he established himself as the most accomplished coach at two different schools.

    Before taking the St. Louis Billikens to three of their six all-time NCAA berths, Spoonhour went 197-81 at Missouri State (then Southwest Missouri State), leading them to a win over Clemson in the school’s first-ever tournament game as part of a string of four straight NCAA bids.

83. Terry Holland

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    The undisputed greatest coach in Virginia history, Terry Holland holds the Cavaliers’ record with 326 wins.

    He also took the school to its only two Final Fours and only ACC title, not to mention recruiting one of college basketball’s greatest individual players in Ralph Sampson.

82. Jay Wright

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    After leading Hofsra to back-to-back America East titles, Jay Wright was brought on to succeed Steve Lappas at Villanova.

    In his decade with the Wildcats to date, he’s already racked up 224 wins (against 110 losses) and a current string of seven straight NCAA berths with one Final Four.

81. Dave Gavitt

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    After two years at alma mater Dartmouth, Dave Gavitt got the unenviable job of replacing the legendary Joe Mullaney at Providence.

    Gavitt took the Friars to five NCAA tournaments (including a Final Four) in 10 years before stepping down to become the first commissioner of the Big East Conference he had been instrumental in founding.

    Image from friars.com

80. Clem Haskins

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    Clem Haskins led the Minnesota Golden Gophers to a school-record 31 victories and the program’s only Final Four appearance in 1997.

    Under Haskins, the Gophers accumulated 11 of their 12 all-time victories in NCAA tournament play.

79. Ben Braun

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    Current Rice head coach Ben Braun is coming up on the 600 win plateau for his career, thanks largely to his work at other schools.

    Braun’s 185 wins at Eastern Michigan are a school record, and he’s second in Cal history with 219 wins in a tenure that included five NCAA tournament bids.

78. Dick Bennett

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    The coach who made Wisconsin into a national contender, Dick Bennett took a team with three all-time NCAA tournament appearances and led them to three more tournaments in five seasons, including the 2000 Final Four.

    Bennett had also led UW-Green Bay to its first three NCAA tournament berths (upsetting Jason Kidd and Cal in 1994) and taken UW-Stevens Point to the NAIA title game (with a bit of help from future Blazers All-Star Terry Porter).

77. Tex Winter

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    Before becoming one of the NBA’s most famous assistants, Tex Winter pioneered his triangle offense as the head coach at Kansas State.

    He won 261 games with the Wildcats, leading them to two Final Fours in 1958 (with All-American Bob Boozer) and 1964.

76. Phil Martelli

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    Phil Martelli starts the 2011-12 season sitting on 300 victories as the coach at St. Joseph’s.

    He won national Coach of the Year honors in 2004 for leading the Hawks to a 30-0 regular season and an Elite 8 finish, one of five NCAA bids his teams have received. 

75. Ned Wulk

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    One of the few coaches to win 400 games at a single school, Ned Wulk finished his Arizona State career with a record of 406-272.

    He also assembled one of the single most talented lineups in college history, a 1979-80 squad featuring five future NBA starters and headlined by the backcourt of Byron Scott and Fat Lever.

    Image from thesundevils.com

74. Jack Hartman

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    Jack Hartman brought Southern Illinois basketball into Division I, winning the 1967 NIT behind star guard Walt Frazier.

    Hartman made an even bigger mark at Kansas State, winning a school-record 295 games with the Wildcats.

73. Jack Friel

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    Washington State hasn’t had a whole lot of basketball success, but what there has been has belonged to Jack Friel.

    The longtime coach set a school record with 495 victories, and he took the Cougars to their only Final Four in 1941 (losing the title game to Wisconsin).

    Image from washingtonsportshof.com

72. P.J. Carlesimo

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    P.J. Carlesimo coached Wagner to an NIT berth just three years after the school jumped to Division I all the way from D-III, but the best was yet to come for the coach.

    Carlesimo went on to win 378 games while guiding Seton Hall to its first six NCAA tournament appearances, including the school’s only Final Four (a one-point OT loss to Michigan in the 1989 title game).

71. Mark Few

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    In 12 seasons since replacing Dan Monson at Gonzaga, Mark Few has taken the Zags to 12 NCAA tournaments (including four Sweet 16s) and won a school-record 315 games.

    Only two coaches in history (Clair Bee and Jerry Tarkanian) have reached 200 wins faster than Few, who did it in 247 career games.

70. Paul Westhead

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    Currently calling the shots for Oregon’s women’s team, Paul Westhead not only won NBA and WNBA titles as a head coach, but also made a mark at the men's college level.

    Westhead’s Loyola Marymount Lions made three consecutive NCAA tournaments, including an Elite 8 finish in spite of Hank Gathers’ tragic 1990 death, and set a Division I record by averaging 122.4 points per game in 1989-90.

69. Jamie Dixon

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    In just eight seasons as the head coach at Pitt, Jamie Dixon has already moved into second place on the school’s all-time list with 216 victories.

    The defensive-minded Dixon has made eight NCAA tournament appearances, already a school record for a head coach, as is the Elite 8 finish his 2009 team achieved.

68. Bobby Cremins

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    Whether or not Bobby Cremins succeeds in rebuilding the program at the College of Charleston—which he led to an NIT berth last season—his performance at Georgia Tech earns him a spot on this list.

    Cremins won 354 games while leading the Yellow Jackets (a team with one previous NCAA tournament appearance all-time) to nine consecutive NCAA bids, highlighted by a Kenny Anderson-led Final Four run in 1990.

67. Thad Matta

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    In Thad Matta’s 11 years as a head coach, his teams have played in 10 NCAA tournaments and one NIT.

    The current Ohio State coach, who won big at Butler and Xavier before heading to Columbus, has a career winning percentage of .768.

66. Rick Barnes

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    Although Rick Barnes was a winning coach at George Mason, Providence and Clemson, it’s at Texas that he appears to have found his long-term home.

    Barnes’ 322 wins to date are a school record, and his 13 seasons so far have featured 13 trips to the NCAA tournament (including a pair of Elite 8 finishes).

65. Fran Dunphy

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    Although Fran Dunphy has taken Temple to the last four NCAA tournaments, his ultimate legacy will likely rest with a different Philadelphia school.

    Dunphy is the all-time winningest coach at Penn (310 wins, second in Ivy League history), and took the Quakers to nine NCAA tournaments in 16 seasons.

64. Ben Howland

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    After leading Northern Arizona to its first-ever NCAA tournament berth, Ben Howland earned a shot at Pitt, where a philosophy based on physical defense turned around a sub-.500 team and helped the Panthers make a pair of Sweet 16s.

    All that was just the warmup for Howland’s efforts at UCLA, where he made three consecutive Final Fours and has won 189 games in his eight seasons so far.

63. Steve Fisher

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    Officially, most of Steve Fisher’s brilliant Michigan record has been vacated, but on the floor, he led the Wolverines (and the storied Fab 5, whom he recruited) to three NCAA title games (one as interim coach for the postseason only).

    Fisher has resurrected his career by turning San Diego State into a contending team, highlighted by the school’s first two NCAA tournament wins in last spring’s Sweet 16 run.

62. Norm Sloan

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    Although he set the career victories record at Florida (since broken by Billy Donovan), Norm Sloan will always be linked to his alma mater, North Carolina State.

    Sloan compiled a 266-127 record with the Wolfpack, highlighted by the school’s first national title behind superstar David Thompson in 1974.

    Image from theacc.com

61. Tom Davis

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    Tom Davis, almost invariably called Dr. Tom, holds the Iowa school record with 269 coaching victories.

    Davis, who won 598 games in all at five different schools, took the Hawkeyes to nine NCAA tournaments (including an Elite 8) in 13 seasons.

60. Everett Shelton

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    The head coach at Wyoming from 1939-59, Everett Shelton amassed 328 victories with the Cowboys.

    He led the school to eight NCAA tournament berths, including its only national title in 1943.

    Image from hoophall.com

59. Bo Ryan

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    In ten seasons to date as the head man at Wisconsin, Bo Ryan has already won 242 games (23 short of the school record that Bud Foster took 25 years to set).

    Ryan’s defense-first Badgers have yet to make a Final Four, but they’ve made the NCAA tournament every year of his tenure after totaling just seven bids in the rest of their history.

58. Doggie Julian

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    Alvin “Doggie” Julian coached Holy Cross for just two seasons, but the team (keyed by the legendary Bob Cousy at point guard) made the Final Four both times and won the 1947 national title.

    Julian later coached at Dartmouth for 18 seasons, taking the school to three NCAA tournament berths (1956, 1958 and 1959, the most recent appearance in program history.)

    Image from hickoksports.com

57. Jim Harrick

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    After making four NCAA tournaments with Pepperdine, Jim Harrick turned around a slumping UCLA program, taking the Bruins to the tournament in each of his eight seasons.

    Harrick’s crowning achievement was the 1995 national title, still the only championship for the program not won by John Wooden.