Ranking the remaining 16 coaches by their NCAA Tournament success

March 22, 2016 11:49am EDT We ranked each remaining coach by his tournament success. How have his teams fared in the tournament? Did they make memorable runs through the bracket as underdogs? Did they stumble way too early as high seeds? Most importantly, did they win rings?
Roy Williams, Bill Self, Tom Crean (Getty Images)

With the first weekend of games out of the way — how great was the first weekend, by the way? — let’s revisit our look at the remaining coaches. 

And let’s start here: This ranking of these 16 coaches is based solely on past NCAA Tournament performance. We’re not even remotely attempting to judge the entire scope of a coach’s career. Conference championships don’t count, and we’re not looking at a coach’s ability as a recruiter or fundraiser. It’s just about performance in the biggest of big dances.

How have his teams fared in the tournament? Did they make memorable runs through the bracket as underdogs? Did they stumble way too early as high seeds? Most importantly, did they win rings?

MORE: Ranking each team's chances of winning the NCAA Tournament

Make sense? Cool. Let’s get started.  

1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

Appearances: 32. Record: 90-26 (.776)
Milestones: 14 Elite Eights, 12 Final Fours, five championships

The only way the No. 1 spot was changing was if Duke lost and Krzyzewski was removed from the equation. Sure, he's had a couple of first-round hiccups in the past decade, but his legacy as an NCAA Tournament coach is unmatched by anyone outside of John Wooden. You see the numbers: His 12 Final Four appearances are tied with Wooden for the most ever, his five titles are second behind only Wooden (the UCLA legend has 10) and his career .776 NCAA Tournament winning percentage is second only to, you guessed it, Wooden (among coaches with at least six appearances).

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2. Roy Williams, UNC

Appearances: 26. Record: 67-23 (.744)
Milestones: 11 Elite Eights, seven Final Fours, two championships 

His Tar Heels have dominated in the second half of their first two games of the tournament, but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. In his 25 trips to the NCAA Tournament, Williams has never lost an opening-round game. That’s pretty impressive. And, yes, his Kansas and North Carolina teams have a 1 or 2 seed plenty of times (16 times, to be exact), but his teams have been seeded either sixth or eighth on five occasions and they’ve won those first-round games, too. 

MORE: Paige reminds us of how dominant UNC can be

3. Bill Self, Kansas

Appearances: 18. Record: 39-16 (.709)
Milestones: Seven Elite Eights, two Final Fours, one championship

Before landing at Kansas, Self took both Tulsa and Illinois to the Elite Eight. With the Jayhawks, he’s made a couple of Final Fours (and, of course, won the 2008 national title), but he’s also lost opening-round games as a No. 3 seed (in 2005) and as a No. 4 seed (in 2006). He was upended in the second round as a No. 1 seed (in 2010) so there’s a bit of a resume gap between Self and the top two coaches on this list. This year, of course, Kansas made the Sweet 16 as a No. 1 seed with little trouble.

MORE: Odds to win the NCAA Tournament entering Sweet 16

4. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

Appearances: 32. Record: 55-30 (.647)
Milestones: Six Elite Eights, four Final Fours, one championship

Boeheim is tied with Krzyzewski for most NCAA Tournament appearances, and even though he’s had a few more missteps than the Duke coach, that .647 winning percentage in tournament games is pretty impressive. He was the first coach to lose a first-round game as a No. 2 seed (to Richmond in 1991), which is a rather significant blip on the resume.

MORE: Cuse faces easiest ever road to Elite Eight

5. Mark Few, Gonzaga

Appearances: 17. Record: 21-16 (.568)
Milestones: One Elite Eight

Maybe his teams are more comfortable with worse seeds, and that’s why his 11th-seeded Zags made the Sweet 16 this year. Really, though, this year’s Gonzaga team had 3-seed talent (and a 1-seed coach) but an 11-seed resume, and that’s showing in March. Few's Bulldogs made the Sweet 16 as a double-digit seed each of his first two years with Gonzaga, but he’s also failed to reach the Sweet 16 as a 1, 2 and 3 seed (2013, 2004 and 2005, respectively).

MORE: Zags cruise to Sweet 16

6. Tom Crean, Indiana

Appearances: Nine. Record: 11-8 (.579)
Milestones: One Elite Eight, one Final Four

So much for the Tom Crean buyout watch, eh? This is the fourth time he’s taken Indiana to the NCAA Tournament, and the third time the Hoosiers have been in the Sweet 16 (as a 1, 4 and 5 seed). He’s yet to get to the Elite Eight with Indiana, though he is now 6-3 with the Hoosiers in the tournament.

MORE: Kentucky-Indiana was a classic in waiting

7. Greg Gard, Wisconsin

Appearances: One. Record: 2-0

Two games and two wins is a very Kevin Ollie way to start an NCAA Tournament coaching career. Ollie’s UConn team was a No. 7 seed when it made its shocking run to the 2014 national championship, and Gard’s Badgers are a No. 7 seed this year. Hmm … 

MORE: Gard the obvious answer to become Wisconsin's permanent head coach

8. Jim Larranaga, Miami

Appearances: Seven. Record: 9-6 (.600)
Milestones: One Elite Eight, one Final Four

Larranaga’s run with George Mason — a No. 11 seed that year — is one of the great underdog stories in NCAA Tournament history.

9. Jay Wright, Villanova

Appearances: 13. Record: 16-12 (.571)
Milestones: Two Elite Eights, one Final Four

This is the sixth time one of Wright’s Villanova clubs have been a top-three seed. In the first five years, they were eliminated by a lower seed four times (the last three times, by 7, 8 and 10 seeds). Villanova has looked pretty dominant in its first two wins in this tournament. 

MORE: Nova Sweet 16 appearance erases years of sour memories

10. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma

Appearances: 17. Record: 18-16 (.529)
Milestones: Two Elite Eights, one Final Four

Not only was Kruger the first coach to lead five different schools into the NCAA Tournament, he’s taken four of the five to the Sweet 16 (he lost in the second round three times with Illinois, to a lower seed twice). 

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11. Tony Bennett, Virginia

Appearances: Six. Record: 8-5 (.615)

Bennett’s teams have been top-four seeds in five of his six seasons in the NCAA Tournament, but he’s yet to get past the Sweet 16. Will this be the year he gets Virginia to the Final Four?

MORE: UVA fits mold of team that can make title run

12. Mark Turgeon, Maryland

Appearances: Seven. Record: 8-6 (.571)

In Turgeon’s first taste of the NCAA Tournament, his seventh-seeded Wichita State team beat Seton Hall in its opener by 20 points, then toppled No. 2 seed Tennessee to reach the Sweet 16 before falling to George Mason. This is his first trip back to the Sweet 16 since then, in his fifth year at Maryland; the Terps lost in the second round in 2015, his first trip to the tournament with Maryland.

MORE: Big Ten should have conference tourney in D.C. 

13. Steve Prohm, Iowa State

Appearances: Two. Record: 3-1 (.750)

Prohm walked into a bit of extra NCAA Tournament pressure in his first year as Iowa State’s coach, considering the Cyclones’ fate as No. 3 seeds the past two years (upset in the first round last year by 14th-seeded UAB and in the Sweet 16 by seventh-seeded UConn the year before). So far, so good. Iowa State has won its first two games comfortably this year.

14. Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M

Appearances: Three. Record: 3-2 (.600)

No coach in NCAA Tournament history has been better at coaching his team to wins when down by 12 points in the last 45 seconds of regulation. In 2010, Kennedy’s Murray State squad was seeded 13th, but the Racers upended Vanderbilt on a buzzer-beater in the opening round and then nearly knocked off fifth-seeded Butler with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. The Bulldogs won that one by two, and then made a run all the way to the national championship game. 

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15. Mike Brey, Notre Dame

Appearances: 13. Record: 11-12 (.478)
Milestones: One Elite Eight 

The Irish made the Elite Eight last year and they’re obviously in the Sweet 16 this year, but Brey’s teams in the past have had more regular-season success than NCAA Tournament success. Brey’s Irish have lost opening-round games to double-digit seeds three times (to No. 11 Winthrop in 2007, to No. 10 Xavier in 2012 and to No. 10 Iowa State in 2013), and as a No. 2 seed in 2011, they lost to 10th-seeded Florida State by 14 in the second round. In 11 tournaments as Notre Dame's coach, Brey's teams have beaten a higher seed just once (his fifth-seeded Irish beat fourth-seeded Illinois in 2003). 

MORE: ND survives gritty SFA

16. Dana Altman, Oregon

Appearances: 12. Record: 8-11 (.421)

This is Altman’s second trip to the Sweet 16 with Oregon. The first was 2013, when the Ducks were a horribly underseeded No. 12.