Where Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski ranks among the top men’s college basketball coaches of all time

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is officially stepping away from college basketball and retiring at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, ending a remarkable tenure in Durham, North Carolina, that spanned more than four decades. Krzyzewski is the winningest coach in men’s college basketball history with his name scattered about the record books. From his five national championships (second-most all-time) to his 12 Final Fours (tied for the most all-time) to his record 97 NCAA Tournament wins, he is as much synonymous with Duke as he is with greatness in college coaching.

While Krzyzewski still has a full season ahead of him before he hangs up his whistle, his standing in the pantheon of men’s college basketball coaches is entrenched. He’s a legend with a bulletproof resume replete with remarkable longevity and consistent greatness. Regardless of how the 2021-22 season plays out, he will go down as one of the best to ever do it.

But not the best to ever do it. Though that is officially up for debate, we’re choosing to put some respect on the Wizard of Westwood’s name at the top of our rankings of the top men’s college basketball coaches of all-time. Krzyzewski isn’t far behind, however, as he begins his farewell tour in 2021-22.

Our rankings of a top 10 (and one) are below.

1. John Wooden

Career record: 664-162
Teams coached: Indiana State, UCLA
National titles
: 10
Final Fours: 12

Wooden ranks 30th — 30th (!) — on the all-time wins list. So how important are national championships? So important that a coach can rank 30th on the all-time wins list and rank No. 1 all-time with very little pushback. Wooden won all 10 of his titles in an incredible 12-year span from 1964-75. His program’s record of seven consecutive national titles still stands.

2. Mike Krzyzewski

Career record: 1,170-361
Teams coached: Army, Duke
National titles: 5
Final Fours: 12

In 46 seasons — the first five of which came at Army before a 41-year run at Duke — Krzyzewski has amassed an NCAA-record 1,170 wins. Five of those wins include national championships, the second-most all-time behind only the Wizard of Westwood. At Duke his teams have earned a combined 14 No. 1 NCAA Tournament seeds and had 35 NCAA Tournament berths.

3. Roy Williams

Career record: 903-264
Teams coached: Kansas, North Carolina
National titles: 3
Final Fours: 9

Williams retired earlier this spring after 903 career wins with two legendary programs, Kansas and North Carolina. Williams ranks third on the all-time wins list by a Division I coach, reaching the 900-win milestone in fewer games (1,161) and seasons (33) than any coach in NCAA history. His 903 wins in 33 seasons is 100 more than any other coach in NCAA history including Krzyzewski and Williams’ mentor, Dean Smith, who we’ll get to momentarily. Three times he won national championships with UNC and nine times during his career he led his teams to the Final Four — including three national runner-up finishes (two at Kansas and one at UNC).

4. Bob Knight

Career record: 899-374
Teams coached: Army, Indiana, Texas Tech
National titles
: 3
Final Fours: 5

A four-time national champion (once as a player, three times as a coach), Knight personified greatness at Indiana where he led the Hoosiers to three championships, five Final Fours and 11 regular-season crowns. His IU tenure was sandwiched between stops at Army (102-50) and Texas Tech (138-82). He retired one win shy of reaching the elusive 900-win club, and ranks fourth on the all-time wins list.

5. Dean Smith

Career record: 879-254
Team coached: North Carolina
National titles
: 2
Final Fours: 11

Smith, at the time of his retirement in 1997, stepped away from the game as the all-time leader in wins with 879. He now ranks fifth in career wins and top-10 in career win percentage with his 879-254 record all coming at North Carolina in one of the most remarkable careers ever that spanned 1961-97.

6. Jim Calhoun

Career record: 877-382
Teams coached: Northeastern, UConn
National titles
: 3
Final Fours: 4

There’s two impressive careers Calhoun put together — first at Northeastern, where he went 248-137 and led them to five NCAA Tournament appearances. But his second stop at UConn is what makes him a Hall of Famer. Calhoun went 629-245 with the Huskies, converting four of their Final Four appearances under him into three national championships.

7. Adolph Rupp

Career record: 876-190
Teams coached: Kentucky
National titles
: 4
Final Fours: 6

Over 41 years at Kentucky, Rupp racked up 876 wins with a stunning 82.2% winning mark. Only Gonzaga’s Mark Few, who will one day join this list as a top-10 all-time coach, ranks higher. Rupp cut his teeth playing under the legendary Phog Allen at Kansas before taking Kentucky to four titles and a combined 40 SEC regular-season and postseason championships.

8. Jim Boeheim

Career record: 1,083-409
Team coached: Syracuse
National titles: 1
Final Fours: 5

A tenth of Boeheim’s 1,083 career wins — 101, all at Syracuse — are technically vacated by the NCAA thanks to an investigation during his tenure as a result of an investigation into the school’s athletic programs. But Boeheim still ranks second in total wins with or without those. That’s because he’s been the Orange coach since 1976, where he has guided the program to five Final Fours and 15 total regular-season and postseason titles.

9. John Calipari

Career record: 784-233
Teams coached: UMass, Memphis, Kentucky
National titles: 1
Final Fours: 6

At 62 years old, Calipari is primed next season to join the 800-win club — making him a top-10 coach all-time in wins. To bolster that resume, he has advanced to six Final Fours, won 16 regular-season conference championships and 15 conference tournaments. The only soft spot on his dossier is winning just one national championship out of six Final Four appearances.

10. Rick Pitino

Career record: 782-277
Teams coached: Boston, Providence, Kentucky, Louisville, Iona
National titles: 2
Final Fours: 7

Two fewer wins than Calipari, yet one more natty and one more Final Four. Strictly by resume and by coaching acumen, Pitino’s got the edge. But one of Pitino’s titles has been vacated and two of his Final Fours have been, too. I have to at least take into account that he was fired at Louisville amidst scandal, hence he’s just below Cal.

11. Henry Iba

Career record: 752-333
Teams coached: Northwest Missouri State, Colorado, Oklahoma A&M / State
National titles: 2
Final Fours: 4

I’d be remiss not to include Iba, the man whose namesake graces the Henry Iba Award, which is given annually to the college basketball coach of the year. Iba won two national championships at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) and advanced to four career Final Fours. He did this while serving as the school’s athletic director from 1935-70 and while spending 1934-41 moonlighting as the school’s baseball coach.

Honorable mention / just missed the cut: Bill Self, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Mark Few, Jerry Tarkanian, Phog Allen, Lute Olson, Eddie Sutton, Lou Henson, Denny Crum


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