Ranking The Top 15 College Basketball Coaches Right Now

Ryan Phillips
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The 2017-18 college basketball season has come to a close. With this year’s results fresh in mind, it’s time to rank the 15 best college basketball coaches in the nation right now. Emphasis was put on recent results, though a long track record of success was also considered. 

15. Archie Miller, Indiana

We all know Archie Miller can coach, the 39-year-old’s six years at Dayton proved that. His first year at Indiana was a mixed bag, as the Hoosiers went 16-15 and missed the postseason entirely. But left with an awful roster situation, there wasn’t much Miller could do other than try to avoid disaster in Year 1.

Given his loaded incoming recruiting class, and a good young core returning, it shouldn’t take long for Miller to turn things around in Bloomington. At Dayton he posted a record of 139-63 (.688), while winning two Atlantic 10 regular seasons titles in his final two years there. He took the Flyers to the Elite Eight in 2014, and is regarded as one of the brightest young coaches in the game.

Something tells me he’ll do great things at Indiana once he has his system fully implemented with “his” players.

14. Chris Holtmann, Ohio State

Chris Holtmann was widely considered a good coach during his three seasons at Butler, but what he did at Ohio State last season vaulted him to another level. He was 70-31 (.693) at Butler and took the Bulldogs to the Sweet 16 in 2017. That led to a call from the Buckeyes.

Once on campus in Columbus, Holtmann went about turning the program around immediately. The Buckeyes were coming off a terrible 17-15 season that led to Thad Matta’s firing. With Holtmann in charge, things improved instantly. They opened the season 18-4 and were 22-5 (13-1 in the Big Ten) at one point. A late seasons swoon didn’t take too much away from a 25-9 season and a second-place finish in the Big Ten.

Holtmann is poised to do big things at Ohio State.

13. Chris Mack, Louisville

Louisville got a good one when it landed Chris Mack. In nine seasons as the head coach at Xavier, Mack posted a fantastic record of 215-97 (.689), with a conference mark of 105-49 (.682). He won two Atlantic 10 regular season titles and a Big East regular season championship in 2018.

Three Sweet 16 trips an Elite Eight run in 2017 and a No. 1 seed in 2018 solidified Mack as a top-tier head coach. As did eight 20-win seasons in his nine years at Xavier. He’ll face new challenges at Louisville, but he’s got a great basketball mind and shouldn’t have any trouble adjusting to the bigger spotlight.

12. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

Gregg Marshall continues to resist overtures from bigger jobs as he appears settled at Wichita State. And why wouldn’t he be? Since arriving from Winthrop in 2007, Marshall has led the Shockers to an incredible mark of 286-97 (.747) and a 141-50 (.738) record in conference. A move to the American Athletic Conference should provide more competition and, in turn, a higher profile.

Marshall’s team fell far short of expectations in 2018, but his consistent success has him marked among the nation’s best coaches. The Shockers went to the Final Four in 2013, and won five MVC regular season titles before their move to the AAC. Marshall knows how to win and that should continue despite the move to a better conference.

11. Mike Brey, Notre Dame

Mike Brey has quietly built an oustanding program during his 18 years at Notre Dame. While a promising season was sidetracked by major injury issues in 2018, he’s still done great things since taking charge of the Fighting Irish.

One of the nation’s best in-game coaches, Brey has also developed into a solid recruiter. During his time at Notre Dame he has an impressive record of 403-201 (.667), and took the Irish to back-to-back Elite Eights in 2015 and 2016. With increased resources and a high profile in the ACC, expect him to continue building up an already formidable program in South Bend.

10. Sean Miller, Arizona

Until we get a ruling from the NCAA, we’re going to just assume Sean Miller is winning cleanly at Arizona. Just suspend disbelief for the purposes of this exercise. 

Miller is a fantastic game coach and an ace recruiter, a combination that has served him well in Tucson. Since taking the Arizona job in 2009, he’s posted a record of 247-73 (.772) and a Pac-12 record of 121-40 (.752). In nine seasons he’s won five Pac-12 titles, including four of the last five.

The Wildcats have reached the Elite Eight three times under Miller but have gone no further. That needs to change in the future, but it doesn’t mean he’s not still a great coach.

9. Tony Bennett, Virginia

Tony Bennett has built a sustained national powerhouse at Virginia, something few thought was possible. Despite employing an offensive system that makes winning in March difficult and coaching the first-ever No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed, Bennett is a great coach.

In nine seasons in Charlottesville, Bennett has posted a 219-86 (.718) record, and a 105-51 (.673) mark in the ACC. He’s won three ACC regular season titles in the last five years, while posting a record of 31-3 (17-1 in conference) this season. Yes, he needs to get over the hump in the tournament at some point, but he’s doing fantastic work at Virginia.

8. John Beilein, Michigan

After flying under the radar during his first four years at Michigan, John Beilein has had the program rolling fairly consistently since. He guided the Wolverines to the NCAA title game for the second time this season despite just tying for fourth in the Big Ten.

Beilein has two Big Ten regular season titles on his resume, as well as the last two Big Ten Tournament titles. CBS Sports named him the National Coach of the Year for 2018 and it’s not hard to see why. He had his team rolling late in season and they rode that momentum to the title game. Had they not run into the buzzsaw that was Villanova, he could have brought a title back to Ann Arbor.

7. Mark Few, Gonzaga

What Mark Few has done at Gonzaga is truly remarkable. He’s taken a tiny school that had occasionally had some basketball success and turned it into a national powerhouse. Since taking the job in 1999, Few has a record of 535-118 (.819), while posting a conference record of 260-30 (.897).

The Bulldogs reached their first Final Four and title game in 2017, and have won 17 West Coast Conference regular season titles during Few’s 19 seasons. Gonzaga has reached the NCAA Tournament in all 19 of Few’s years in charge, with 16 trips to the second round and eight Sweet 16 appearances. It’s only a matter of time before Few finally brings a title back to Spokane.

6. Bill Self, Kansas

While he’s struggled at times during the NCAA Tournament, there’s no denying Bill Self is among the best basketball coaches in the country. Three Final Four trips and a national title in 2008 dot his resume, but his time at Kansas has been so much more than that.

Since taking the Jayhawks job in 2003, Self has posted an incredible record of 447-96 (.823), while in the Big 12 he’s 208-46 (.819). Kansas has won a ridiculous 14 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles and the 55-year-old Self’s program won’t be slowing down any time soon. He led his team to the Final Four this year in what was arguably the best coaching job of his career.

5. John Calipari, Kentucky

Controversial as he may be, John Calipari can still flat-out coach. He’s led three teams to Final Fours, has been to six total (two of those have since been vacated) and won the 2012 national title. The pied piper of five-star recruits, Calipari’s teams are always ridiculously talented and he consistently has the difficult task of melding them into a cohesive unit.

At Kentucky, Calipari has racked up an insane record of 273-64 (.810) and a 121-35 (.776) mark in the SEC. He’s won five SEC regular season titles and six SEC Tournament titles in his nine years at the school. Few can boast success at his level.

4. Roy Williams, North Carolina

At 67, Roy Williams is still going strong. He led North Carolina to a national title in 2017 and the championship game in 2016. His 2017 title was his third with the Tar Heels. He’s got nine Final Fours on his resume and an impeccable career record of 842-227 (.788) and a .714 career winning percentage in the ACC.

Despite a disappointing tournament finish in 2018, Williams is still one of the elite coaches out there.

3. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

You can’t argue with five national titles, 12 Final Fours and the all-time Division I wins record. While Duke’s results the last few seasons haven’t lived up to lofty pre-season expectations, Mike Krzyzewski is still one of the best the country has to offer.

A lifetime coaching record of 1,100-338 (.765) and a ridiculous .707 winning percentage in ACC games alone puts him among the best to ever coach. He hasn’t mastered consistent success in the one-and-done era, but I wouldn’t bet against him figuring it out.

2. Tom Izzo, Michigan State

While the tournament results haven’t been there the last two years, Tom Izzo is still among the college game’s best coaches. In 23 seasons at Michigan State, Izzo has racked up an incredible resume. He’s 574-225 (.718) overall and 272-122 (.690) in the Big Ten. He’s won eight Big Ten regular season titles (including this year), five Big Ten Tournament titles, has been to seven Final Fours and won a national title back in 2000.

Izzo might be the best in-game coach in the country. In a clear sign of just how good he is, Michigan State is always among the teams no one wants to play at the end of the season. He has done more with less in East Lansing and some of his best teams have been among his least talented. That’s the sign of a great coach.

1. Jay Wright, Villanova

As I said the morning after the national championship game, Jay Wright is the nation’s best college basketball coach right now. There’s no debate. He’s won two national titles in three years, and since taking the Villanova job in 2001, he’s gone 420-165 (.718). But here’s the most remarkable thing Wright has done at Nova, and I’ll just pull it straight from that post:

"Since 2010, Wright has never had a recruiting class finish inside the top 20 in 247Sports’ rankings. In 2013 his class finished 36th, in 2014 it was 48th, in 2015 it was 29th, in 2016 it was 45th and in 2017 it was 28th. With those classes, from 2013 through this season, Villanova has a record of 165-21 (.887). The Wildcats have won four Big East regular season titles, three Big East Tournament titles, three Final Four appearances and two national titles."

That’s just amazing.

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