Greatest College Basketball Coaches of All Time

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Every great team has a coach who helps them stay in condition and create strategies for facing the most challenging opponents. College basketball is no exception, with many coaches who have successfully coached young athletes to national and conference championships.

The coach plays such an important role that they can make or break a team. Such an important role that many punters base their point spreads betting decisions solely on the team with the best coach and the coach’s strategies in each game. Below are some of the greatest coaches in college basketball history in no particular order.

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John Wooden

The Bruins from UCLA have won the most NCAA national tournaments of any college team, with 11 victories. While famous players always come and go, only one man – John Wooden – can take credit for all except one of the wins. All coaches seem to be judged in comparison to Wooden. 

During Wooden’s tenure as coach, the Bruins went undefeated for a record-setting 88 straight games over three years. Because of Wooden, the Bruins have become the basketball program that they’re currently, and many coaches have followed in Wooden’s footsteps. John Wooden was a strict taskmaster who dedicated over 30 years to the team, guiding the UCLA Bruins to 620 victories.

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Mike Krzyzewski

If you only count championships, John Wooden comes out on top as the best coach. Mike Krzyzewski holds the number one rank if you consider wins. He’s also a proud member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Krzyzewski is a master in the basketball coaching industry. 

He understands the system and has won several ‘National Player of the Year’ titles due to his 28 lottery choices. He holds 15 top-three choices, while the Wildcats, who’re in second place, have only five. He appeared in 12 Final Fours and won five national championships. 

He has also made a name for himself as a coach for several international competitions. Krzyzewski recently retired in early 2022, after 42 years as head coach and 1,196 victories.

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Roy Williams

Roy Williams, who retired in 2021, was the head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks between 1988 to 2003 and then the North Carolina Tar Heels from 2003 until his retirement. He spent  15 seasons with the Jayhawks, but it was with the Tar Heels that he earned the most of his honours. His Tar Heels teams have won three national titles in total. 

He has led his teams to nine Final Four appearances, including four with the Jayhawks and five with the Tar Heels. He has captained both teams to more than 900 victories.

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Dean Smith

Dean Smith is regarded as a legendary coach. He began his basketball career with the Kansas Jayhawks as a player. He won the 1952 national title with them, under Hall of Fame coach Phog Allen. From 1961 through 1997, he was the head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

He guided them to two championship victories and his one established crown. They advanced to the Final Four 11 times during his tenure as coach. He was the all-time coaching victory leader with 879 victories when he retired. 

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Final Words

These men are some of the top college basketball coaches of all time. There are many more, but these names keep popping up in the record books as the leaders of some of the most successful teams in the history of the NCAA. Coaches in college basketball enjoy a level of longevity unheard of in any other college sport. 

Names like Krzyzewski, Rupp and Knight are indelibly tied to the dynasties they created. Jim Calhoun of UConn now has three NCAA championships and is the oldest coach to claim this title. Calhoun has cemented his place among the best names in coaching by approaching the top five in all-time victories. 

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