As the NCAA Tournament and the whole concept of March Madness draws nearer, we went over the list of current NCAA head coaches, highlighting the ones who have already experienced the ultimate joy of what college basketball postseason has to offer. Here are the 11 active head coaches who have won a national title.
Boeheim has been coaching at Syracuse since 1976, amassing an impressive record that includes 900 career wins and taking the Orange to the Final Four five times, including twice in the last four years. However, the pinnacle of his career in Syracuse is the one national title from 2003. Some feel it’s too little considering the talent he’s had over the years, which included a freshman Carmelo Anthony in that championship year.
Calipari has been coaching since 1988, going through UMass and Memphis before landing in Kentucky in 2009. He took both the Minutemen and the Tigers to the Final Four (although both were vacated by the NCAA). In Lexington, he’s finally won the big one with his remarkable 2012 squad that didn’t lose a single SEC game and lost twice the entire season. He has 3 more Final Fours with the Wildcats, the last of ’em in 2015.
Most people remember that the 71-year old Fisher, who has been the coach at San Diego State since 1999, also coached at Michigan from 1989 to 1997. What he’s mostly remembered for is being the HC during the Fab Five era, which included making the title game twice, with both occasions later vacated. What people forget is that as an interim head coach he led the Wolverines to the national title in 1989, stepping in for Bill Frieder. With the Aztecs, his best has been the Sweet 16, getting there a couple of times.
Like Boeheim, Izzo has been a one-team coach since landing his current gig with Michigan State in 1995. After two NIT tournaments, Izzo and the Spartans have gone to the NCAA Tournament every year since 1998. This includes 7 Final Four appearances, and one sweet championship in 2000 with Morris Peterson as his star player.
Previously coaching Army, Krzyzewski started his work at Duke in 1980. After 3 years of winning a combined 13 conference games, things started going his and the Blue Devils way. How good has it been? Five national championships (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015) and 7 more Final Four appearances. Since 1984, Duke have missed the NCAA tournament just once. He coached only 12 games the season they missed out.
A player at UConn during his college days and a journeyman in the NBA, playing for 12 different teams, Ollie replaced his old coach Jim Calhoun in 2012. A year and a few months later, he led the Huskies on an improbable NCAA Tournament run that included wins over three different top 10 teams (one of them #1 Florida) before beating Kentucky in the final to claim UConn’s 4th national title in 16 years.
Pitino is the only coach on this list with a championship at two different schools, both of them just happen to be huge rivals. He coached Kentucky from 1989 to 1997 (after stints at Hawaii, Boston and Providence). He led the Wildcats to a national title in 1996 (their first since 1978) and the title game again in 1997, losing to Arizona. He took Kentucky to the Final Four in 1993 as well. After his NBA episode, Pitino joined Louisville, and has been there since 2001. His time with the Cardinals includes 3 Final Four appearances and a championship in 2013.
After coaching Oral Roberts, Tulsa and Illinois, Self joined Kansas (2003), which has turned into a nightmare for the rest of the Big 12. Since he arrived at Lawrence, Kansas have won the conference regular season title 12 times (streak going on since 2005). He led the Jayhawks to the national title in 2008 and to the championship game in 2012.
Tubby Smith replaced Pitino at Kentucky and won the national title right after coming from Georgia in 1997. He didn’t get Kentucky to the Final Four in the nine seasons that followed, and since leaving Lexington he has coached Minnesota and Texas Tech, currently finishing his first season with Memphis. He hasn’t gotten past the third round of the tournament.
After a decade of working as Dean Smith’s assistant at North Carolina, Williams took the Kansas job and did very well with the Jayhawks over 15 seasons, getting to the Final Four 3 times, including a title game in 2003, his last year before heading back to Chapel Hill and becoming the Tar Heels head coach. He is into his 14th season with the team, an era that includes two national titles (2005, 2009) and two more Final Four appearances, among them the heartbreaking loss to Villanova just under one year ago in the championship game.
The man on the sidelines during UNC’s loss to Villanova was Jay Wright, who has been the Wildcats coach since 2001. 2016 was his and Villanova’s second Final Four appearance together, the previous one back in 2009. He coached Hofstra before taking the Villanova job.
Last mention: Rollie Massimino coached Villanova to the national title in 1985. He’s still coaching (Northwood Keiser), but it’s an NAIA school.