The 10 coaches with the most wins in NCAA Tournament history — guess who's at the top?

The 10 coaches with the most wins in NCAA Tournament history — guess who's at the top?

Man, myth, legend telling the world he will say goodbye after this upcoming season.
Man, myth, legend telling the world he will say goodbye after this upcoming season.
Image: Getty Images

Since we found out that Mike Krzyzewski was retiring after this upcoming season on Wednesday, the Duke head coach has been the lead story throughout the sports world. At the age of 74, the G.O.A.T. has decided to hang it up.

“The reason we’re doing this is because Mickie (Krzyzewski’s wife) and I have decided the journey is going to be over in a year,” he said during Thursday’s press conference. “And we’re going to go after it as hard as we possibly can.”

Due to the pandemic canceling the 2020 NCAA Tournament, and positive coronavirus tests ending Duke’s long-shot chance of making last year’s Big Dance, Coach K hasn’t been on the sport’s biggest stage since Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans denied him, Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones an opportunity to reach the 2019 Final Four. Equipped with another loaded roster that features freshmen like No. 3-ranked Paolo Banchero (Power Forward), No. 21-ranked Trevor Keels (Shooting Guard), No. 27-ranked A.J. Griffin (Small Forward), and No. 89-ranked Jaylen Blakes (Combo Guard), along with sophomores and juniors like Wendell Moore, Jr., Jeremy Roach, and Mark Williams, Coach K is expected to return to the tournament, albeit with a young and inexperienced team.

From 1988-1994 Coach K’s Duke teams played in every Final Four or national title game save one. It’s the legendary run that turned Duke into… “Duke.” So, as college basketball gets ready to say goodbye to one of its titans, we wanted to take a look back at some of the other coaches who have a history of getting it done in March.

This list is strictly limited to men’s basketball coaches given that there isn’t a database that calculates the total NCAA Tournament wins that coaches on the women’s side have accumulated – which is pathetic.

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10. John Wooden (47-10)┃10 Titles┃12 Finals Fours

10. John Wooden (47-10)┃10 Titles┃12 Finals Fours

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While the “Wizard of Westwood” might have the most championships on the men’s side, that doesn’t mean he had a ton of tournament wins, given that — back in the day — two or three wins put you in the Final Four given the smaller field. However, he’s the first coach to ever build a dynasty in college basketball.

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9. Bill Self (49-21)┃1 Title┃3 Finals Fours

9. Bill Self (49-21)┃1 Title┃3 Finals Fours

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While Self may be known for his teams collapsing under Tourney pressure, it doesn’t mean that he hasn’t won a lot when he’s there. Oddly enough, since March Madness encompasses the entire month, it should be noted that Self has won 15 Big 12 conference titles and eight Big 12 tournament championships.

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8. Jim Calhoun (51-20)┃3 Titles┃4 Finals Fours

8. Jim Calhoun (51-20)┃3 Titles┃4 Finals Fours

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Coach K, Paul Hewitt, Brad Stevens. Those are the coaches that Calhoun knocked off in national championship games. Calhoun also always got it done when it mattered the most, as he was undefeated in title games.

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7. Tom Izzo (52-22)┃1 Title┃8 Finals Fours

7. Tom Izzo (52-22)┃1 Title┃8 Finals Fours

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There are some schools you never want to see on your bracket as an opposing team, and Michigan State is one of them. Izzo’s programs have always embodied the madness of March. Michigan State is always a tough out in the postseason. Izzo gets his teams to play their best late in the season, and he has the tournament wins to show for it.

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6. Rick Pitino (54-20)┃2 Titles┃7 Finals Fours

6. Rick Pitino (54-20)┃2 Titles┃7 Finals Fours

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He may be a terrible person, but he’s an outstanding basketball coach. Rick Pitino – along with Tubby Smith and Lon Kruger – are the only coaches that have taken five different schools to the tourney, with Pitino guiding Boston U., Providence, Kentucky, Louisville, and Iona there. He’s also won titles at Kentucky and Louisville*, two schools that hate each other.

* Vacated by the NCAA

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5. John Calipari (56-19)┃1 Title┃6 Final Fours

5. John Calipari (56-19)┃1 Title┃6 Final Fours

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For all the people that think Calipari’s success is based on his recruiting skills, they forgot that he made UMass into a powerhouse in the 90s with a team that lacked multiple lottery picks. Cal has won in the tournament with veteran teams and rosters loaded with nothing but freshmen and sophomores.

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4. Jim Boeheim (62-34)┃1 Title┃5 Final Fours

4. Jim Boeheim (62-34)┃1 Title┃5 Final Fours

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Between being a player, alum, assistant, and eventually the head coach, Boeheim has been connected to Syracuse basketball since 1963. With 20 Sweet 16 appearances on his resume, there’s a reason you can always expect to see the Orange in the tournament, as he guided his school there 36 times.

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3. Dean Smith (65-27)┃2 Titles┃11 Finals Fours

3. Dean Smith (65-27)┃2 Titles┃11 Finals Fours

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He’s the Kansas native that turned North Carolina into a juggernaut. The ACC wouldn’t be what it is today without Smith. When you think of some of the greatest names in Carolina basketball history, they probably all played for Smith and helped him win all those tournament games.

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2. Roy Williams (79-27)┃3 Titles┃9 Final Fours

2. Roy Williams (79-27)┃3 Titles┃9 Final Fours

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It’s not often that one coach gets to be in charge of two of college basketball’s bluebloods. Williams has that honor by taking both Kansas and North Carolina to Final Fours. After coming up short of a title twice at Kansas, Williams headed home to his alma mater and was able to win three at North Carolina – which is one more than his mentor Dean Smith

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1. Mike Krzyzewski (97-30)┃5 Titles┃12 Final Fours

1. Mike Krzyzewski (97-30)┃5 Titles┃12 Final Fours

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If Coach K can make it to the Elite 8 this season, it will give him 100 tournament wins. And if Duke can win their sixth title, he’d finish his career with 103 – another potential record of his that will never be broken. If the Dukies qualify for the tournament as expected, it will be Coach K’s 36th and final trip to The Big Dance.

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