The Top 10 College Basketball Coaches of All-Time

The Greatest College Basketball coach ever
ATLANTA, GA MARCH 02: Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures from the sideline during the NCAA basketball game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on March 2nd, 2021 at Hank McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


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10) Al McGuire (404-144 from 1958-77 with Belmont Abbey and Marquette, .737)

A lot of people remember McGuire for his television commentating days, but before that, he was a legendary coach that built a small Catholic College into a national powerhouse. McGuire led Marquette to the NIT title in 1970 and the NCAA championship in his emotional swan song in 1977. McGuire’s 1974 Marquette squad lost in the NCAA Championship game. In 1967 Marquette lost to Walt Frazier and Southern Illinois in the NIT final, when the NIT was still a significant tournament. McGuire was a two-time National Coach of the Year and directed Marquette to top-20 appearances in final wire-service polls his last 10 seasons in a row. McGuire built his program at Marquette by being one of the first white coaches to recruit from the inner city.

Video: Coach: The Untold Story of College Basketball Legend Al McGuire Promotional Video

Coach: The Untold Story of College Basketball Legend Al McGuire Promotional Video


9) Denny Crum (675-295 from 1972-2001 with Louisville, .696)

Denny Crum IS Louisville basketball. At Louisville he built an all-time great basketball program. Crum reached the NCAA Final Four six times–1972 (fourth), 1975 (third), 1980 (champion), 1982 (tied for third), 1983 (tied for third) and 1986 (champion). Crum also holds the NCAA record by winning at least 20 games each of his first 13 seasons as a head coach. Crum had an astounding record of 161-109 mark (.596) in games decided by fewer than six points.

Video: Denny Crum Career Highlights!

Denny Crum Career Highlights!


8) Phog Allen (746-264 from 1906-09 and 1913-56 with Baker, Haskell, Central Missouri State and Kansas, .739)

Allen’s Kansas teams had 17 consecutive undisputed first-division finishes in the Big Six Conference from 1930 through 1946. They won more than 60 percent of his games decided by fewer than six points (156-100, .609). Allen was a great defensive coach who believed defense won championships.

Video: Around Kansas: Phog Allen

Around Kansas: Phog Allen


7) Hank Iba (767-338 from 1930-70 with Northwest Missouri State, Colorado and Oklahoma State, .694)

Oklahoma State won two national titles under Iba, was national runner-up once, finished fourth once and was regional runners-up on four occasions in eight playoff appearances under Iba from 1945-65. Reached Final Four on four occasions–1945 (1st), 1946 (1st), 1949 (2nd) and 1951 (4th)–after directing Oklahoma A&M to three NIT semifinals–1938 (3rd), 1940 (3rd) and 1944 (4th). Oklahoma State’s all-time winningest coach led the nation in scoring defense 16 times in his first 23 seasons with the school. The lone knock against Iba was that he had a losing record in games decided by six or fewer points.

Video: OSU Hall of Honor - Henry Iba

OSU Hall of Honor – Henry Iba


6) Adolph Rupp (876-190 from 1931-72 with Kentucky, .822)

Coached teams to four NCAA titles (1948, 1949, 1951 and 1958). Coached UK to an SEC-record 24 conference and 13 league tournament titles. Rupp’s teams posted the best record in two consecutive decades, the 1940’s and 50’s.

Video: A Video Tribute to the Adolph Rupp Era at Kentucky

A Video Tribute to the Adolph Rupp Era at Kentucky


5) Clair Bee (412-87 from 1929-51 with Rider and LIU, .826)

Bob Knight said that “In the first half of the century, Clair Bee was basketball” and Bee’s record bears out Knight’s statement. Bee boasted an amazing 64-29 mark (.688) with LIU in games decided by six points or less. Bee led an undefeated LIU to a NIT Title in 1939 at a time when the NIT was considered the “real” National Title. Bee was the Greatest College coach of the first 50 years of the 20th century.

Video: Clair Bee's LIU Blackbirds Honored by Madison Square Garden

Clair Bee’s LIU Blackbirds Honored by Madison Square Garden


4) Dean Smith (879-254 from 1962-97 with North Carolina, .776)

Smith’s Tar Heels’ 11 NCAA Final Four appearances (1967-68-69-72-77-81-82-91-93-95-97). Smith led the Heels to 19-straight final top-20 finishes from 1971-89. Smith’s greatest accomplishment may be the fact that he was the first and still the only coach to lead a team to the final four in four consecutive decades.

Video: Carolina Basketball - Dean Smith Tribute

Carolina Basketball – Dean Smith Tribute


3) John Wooden (664-162 record from 1947-75 with Indiana State and UCLA, .804)

My contention is college basketball was not a deep sport in the ’60s and ’70s, and UCLA got pretty much the twelve players they wanted. It was kind of similar to the UCONN women’s teams over the last decade or more. They get the players they want and the talent nationwide was not that great. Then you have the issue of car dealer Sam Gilbert, but you still cannot ignore his record and greatness as a coach. The championships are just too many to ignore.

Video: A Tribute to Coach John Wooden

A Tribute to Coach John Wooden

2) Bob Knight (866-353 from 1966-2006 with Army, Indiana and Texas Tech; .710)

A lot of people hate Knight, but even John Wooden himself was quoted as saying, “I don’t think there’s ever been a better coach than Bobby Knight.” Now he tempered that by saying he did not like Knight, but this list has nothing to do with a popularity contest. Knight built Army into a very good basketball program, then he moved onto Indiana University, which hadn’t been good for years. In almost no time he had them in the Final Four and by 1976, the Hoosiers were crowned undefeated National Champions. Knight led the Hoosiers to three NCAA titles during his tenure and after departing IU he ended up turning around an average at best Texas Tech Red Raiders basketball team and made them a top-25 program.

Video: Bob Knight's Essentials of Coaching Basketball

Bob Knight’s Essentials of Coaching Basketball


1) Mike Krzyzewski (1,071-330 from 1976-Present with Army and Duke, .764)

Coach K, like his mentor Bob Knight, started out at Army where he had success. From there he moved to Duke. The first few years were not kind to Coach K. After that rough start, Coach K built a great program that competes every season at a high level.

Video: Get an Inside Look at How Coach K Teaches, Develops Chemistry!

Get an Inside Look at How Coach K Teaches, Develops Chemistry!




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