NCAA men’s basketball is choc full of legendary coaches that have had successful careers. This year’s tournament has not disappointed with the crop of coaches. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, and John Calipari of Kentucky are all premier coaches. Aside from the players the coaches have an enormous impact on the game. All four of these coaches know how to win when it matters and are all capable of making a run with their respective teams.
Mike Krzyzewski is the winningest coach in college basketball history and has four national championships to go along with all of those wins. His Duke team earned a #1 seed in the tournament this year, so they are expected to make the Final Four at least. They are a strong contender with the potential number one draft pick in center, Jahlil Okafor. If Okafor plays well and his guards are on, Coach K may very well end up with the opportunity to earn his fifth national championship.
Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans earned a 7 seed after finishing 24-11 this season. It was a down season for the Spartans as they finished third in the Big Ten Conference and barely cracked the top 25 at #23. No one has underestimated Izzo at this point in the season though. Michigan State is playing the #2 seeded Virginia Cavaliers in the third round of the tournament. Izzo will hope to get the upset over a strong defensive team and move on to his 13th Sweet Sixteen.
Rick Pitino is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He is a coach that has been successful at multiple programs and over multiple decades. Pitino has won a national championship with both the University of Kentucky and Louisville and is the only coach to have brought three different schools to the Final Four. Pitino’s teams have the ability to make a championship run whenever they are in striking distance. His last championship came in 2013 with the Cardinals, but that came as a #1 seed. The Louisville Cardinals are an interesting team to watch the rest of the tournament as they barely squeaked out a first round win against University of California Irvine.
John Calipari, the youngest of these coaches, has taken the NCAA basketball scene by storm in the last decade. He has led the University of Massachusetts, Memphis, and the University of Kentucky to the Final Four, but his appearances with University of Massachusetts and Memphis were later vacated. Calipari earned his first national championship with the University of Kentucky in the 2011 season. In the past few years, he has completely revamped the Kentucky program. After an impressive season, Calipari and his favored Wildcats hope to win another national championship.
Although the NCAA tournament has all of these legendary coaches this season, they are missing out on one big one. Coach Jim Boeheim and his Syracuse Orange were not eligible for the tournament, after a self-imposed postseason ban. Before over 100 of his wins were vacated by the NCAA, Boeheim ranked second to only Mike Krzyzewski in career wins. With a team that could have arguably earned a birth into this tournament, basketball fans are missing out on a storied program with yet another storied coach.