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ACC Basketball: Power Ranking the League’s Top Five Coaches

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ACC's Top Five Coaches

ACC 5 Coaches

The ACC has under gone several coaching changes in the past few seasons. Since 2010-11, the 12 team conference has seen eight new faces take over at the helm.

With so many fresh faces it’s time to take a look at the top coaches in the conference. Based on win/loss record, post-season success such as distance gone in the NCAA Tournament, and school history, the top five coaches will be listed. The comparison between big and small conference jobs in the past doesn’t necessarily penalize the coach in the rankings but it can help their case. Points are awarded for consistency, for example consecutive years in the NCAA Tournament or multiple 20-plus win seasons.

Honorable mention:

Virginia Cavaliers, Tony Bennett: With a coaching record of 122-74, good for 62.2% it’s no denying Bennett has had a lot of success early in his career. With a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in his second season coaching and only one losing season (his first season with Virginia going 15-16), Bennett’s case for the top five is obvious. However, with only six seasons under his belt, the earliness in his career is what cost him a spot in the top five.

Clemson Tigers, Brad Brownell: Having a 65% winning record at 205-110, it’s easy to make the case Brownell deserves his spot in the top five. However, never making it past the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament is what narrowly kept him off the final cut. A little more post-season success with Clemson in the future and Brownell will see his name crack the top five.

It was a tough decision deciding the ACC’s Top Five Coaches, the list begins with…

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5. Jim Larranaga

Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

5. Jim Larranaga

Miami (FL) Hurriances

Having a coaching record of 484-342 doesn’t give you the highest winning percentage in the conference with only 58.7%, but when you’ve been coaching 28 years, it’s no less impressive.

Larranaga began coaching in 1977-78 spending two seasons with the American International Yellow Jackets in Division II play. He’d spend the next seven seasons as an assistant coach with Virginia before taking a head coaching position with the Bowling Green Falcons in 1986-87. He’d spend 11 seasons with the school before moving to the job he’d be most famous for, the George Mason Patriots.

He’d make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in his head coaching career in his second season with George Mason in 1998-99. Taking the school to the big dance five times overall in 14 years to finish with a 273-164 record, good enough for a 62.5% win percentage. His most famous season came when George Mason went on huge Cinderella run to the Final Four in 2006 as an 11th seed. The Patriots would defeat the Michigan State Spartans, North Carolina Tar Heels and Connecticut Huskies on its way to the Final Four. Not many coaches can say they defeated Tom Izzo, Roy Williams and Jim Calhoun all in the same tournament.

He took over Miami (FL) last season and saw success in his first year with a 20-13 record, going 9-7 in conference play.

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4. Mark Turgeon

Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE

4. Mark Turgeon

Maryland Terrapins

Replacing 22 year head coach Gary Williams in 2011-12 was no easy task for Turgeon as he saw limited success in his first year, going 17-15 and 6-10 in conference play. However, Turgeon’s history is what saw him take the four spot on this list.

With 14 seasons under his belt and a 266-174 record with a 60.4% winning percentage, Turgeon has had success wherever he’s coached. The good news for Maryland fans, he has a trend of losing the most games with his schools in the first year on the job.

In his two seasons with the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, he started 8-18 before bouncing back with a 17-11 record in his second season. Becoming the coach of the Wichita State Shockers in 2000-01, he’d lose 19 games, his most in the seven seasons he coached the Shockers. He’d take them to the Sweet Sixteen in 2005-06, finishing 26-9 and first in the conference that season.

Once again, Turgeon would lose the most games in his first season with a new school in 2007-08, as he lost only 11 games with the Texas A&M Aggies. In his four seasons with the Aggies, they’d make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament each year with three second round appearances. He’d finish 97-40 with the school.

If the trend continues, Maryland fans have a lot to be excited about with Turgeon in control.

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3. Mark Gottfried


3. Mark Gottfried

N.C. State Wolfpack

With 15 seasons and a record of 303-167, Gottfried has had success at all three schools he’s coached.

He began his career in 1995-96 with the Murray State Racers where he’d finish as the conference regular season champion with a 20-9 record. He’d finish as the conference regular season and tournament champion the next two seasons, while making first round NCAA Tournament appearances both years.

In 1998-99, he’d move to the Alabama Crimson Tide where he’d spend the next 11 seasons, only having a losing season once. Going 210-131 overall in his time with the Crimson Tide, they’d make the NCAA tournament five consecutive seasons starting in 2001-02. They’d go as far as the Elite Eight in 2003-04, before being eliminated by the eventual champions, Connecticut Huskies.

Moving to N.C. State last season, he’d have instant success with the team, going 24-13 with a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Gottfried’s Wolfpack enter the 2012-13 as early favorites to take the ACC title.

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2. Roy Williams


2. Roy Williams

North Carolina Tar Heels

An 80.1% winning percentage with a 675-169 overall record, it’s not surprising Williams has only missed the NCAA Tournament twice in his career.

The first time came in his first season with the Kansas Jayhawks in 1988-89 when the school was ineligible for the post season tournament, for reasons prior to his arrival. The second time came in a rebuilding year with North Carolina in 2009-10, after his 2008-09 championship , where he saw four players from the team get drafted in the 2009 NBA draft (First round: Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington. Second round: Danny Green).

Williams spent 15 seasons at Kansas, being the runner-up of the NCAA tournament twice and making it past the first round every year after his first season in 1988-89. In fact, Williams has never lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in his career. He’d leave the Jayhawks after the 2002-03 season with a 418-101 record.

Williams would match his lowest win total in his career in 2003-04, his first year with North Carolina, going 19-11. Williams would bounce back in the next season as he’d capture his first NCAA championship in 2004-05.

Two National championships (2005,2009), seven Final Four appearances, a Big Eight tournament championship (when Kansas was in the Big Eight before moving to the Big 12), four Big 12 tournament championships, two ACC tournament championships, and multiple coach of the year honors. Inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 as well as the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007, Roy Williams would be number one on any list if it wasn’t for….

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1. Mike Krzyzewski

Coach K
Andrew Synowiez-US PRESSWIRE

1. Mike Krzyzewski

Duke Blue Devils

37 seasons, 927-289 record with a 76.2% winning percentage.

Four National Championships (1991, 1992, 2001, 2010)

11 Final Fours, 13 ACC Tournament Championships

Four Olympic Gold Medals (head coach: 2008 Beijing, 2012 London. Assistant: 1984 Los Angeles, 1992 Barcelona)

Two Gold Medals at FIBA Americas Championships (head coach: Las Vegas 2007, Assistant: 1992 Portland)

Gold at FIBA World Championship Turkey 2010

Gold at Pan American Games as assistant coach in 1979 Puerto Rico

Inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame (2001)

Inducted into College Basketball Hall of Fame (2006)

The list goes on, but if more convincing is needed to explain why Krzyzewski is the number one coach in the ACC, it’s probably because a Tar Heel fan can’t accept they’ll always finish second in this department as long as Coach K is around.