Coaches With The Most March Madness Game Wins

best mens college basketball coaches with the most march madness wins

March Madness represents the highest level of competition in men’s college basketball. Making it to the tournament and advancing is a dream for some schools, but not for the nine winningest coaches in men’s March Madness history. These nine legendary coaches have made winning a habit and redefined the men’s college basketball tournament standards.

Who Are the Coaches With the Most March Madness Game Wins?

  1. Mike Krzyzewski
  2. Roy Williams
  3. Dean Smith
  4. Jim Boeheim
  5. Tom Izzo
  6. Jim Calhoun
  7. John Wooden
  8. Bill Self
  9. John Calipari
  10. Lute Olson

1. Mike Krzyzewski

With 101 NCAA tournament game wins, twelve trips to the Final Four, and five NCAA Division I National Championships as of 2023, Mike Krzyzewski is widely recognized as the greatest coach in men’s college basketball history. After four years as a player with the Army Black Knights, “Coach K” started his coaching career at Indiana before moving back to West Point. His success at Army earned him the job at Duke, where he has been since 1980. In 41 seasons at Duke, Coach K has developed talents such as Kyrie Irving, Grant Hill, Christian Laettner, and Zion Williamson.

2. Roy Williams

With 77 wins in March Madness games, Coach Roy Williams retired in 2021 after over 30 seasons as a Division I head coach. The former UNC player had made it to the Final Four twice as head coach of the University of Kansas and seven more times after he took over at his alma mater, winning the National Championship three of those times. At UNC, Roy Williams coached college basketball stars such as Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and three-time NBA Champion Danny Green.

3. Dean Smith

Two-time NCAA Tournament Champion Dean Smith closes out the podium of the winningest coaches in March Madness history with his 65 wins as head coach of the University of North Carolina. Remembered by most for having developed Michael Jordan, Dean Smith impacted several generations of players during his 36-year tenure at UNC. Among them are NBA legends such as Vince Carter, James Worthy, Jerry Stackhouse, and Antwan Jamison. Dean Smith is also one of the few people to have won an NCAA National Championship both as a player and a coach, as he won the title in 1952 playing for Kansas University.

4. Jim Boeheim

Jim Boeheim, the Syracuse University basketball alumni and long-tenured coach of the Orange, has won 61 March Madness games. After graduating in 1966, Boeheim went on to play professional basketball for a few years before coming to the university as an assistant coach in 1969. After seven years as a coaching staff member, Boeheim was promoted to head coach in 1976. In his 46 seasons with Syracuse, he has also made it to the Final Four five times, even winning the National Championship once in 2003. NBA greats like Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne “Pearl” Washington dominated the scene in college basketball while under Boeheim.

5. John Calipari

 Throughout his long coaching career, John Calipari has won a total of 56 NCAA Tournament games. Out of the top winningest coaches in men’s college basketball, he is also the only one that has had stints in the NBA. Despite some good seasons for the 76ers and the Nets, Calipari built his legendary status in college basketball. First coaching at UMass and then Memphis, Calipari now coaches the Kentucky Wildcats after coming back from the NBA. Calipari has made it to the Final Four six times, winning it once in 2012 with the University of Kentucky. Calipari has developed many NBA superstars in his college coaching career, including Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis, Devin Booker, and former MVP Derrick Rose.

6. Bill Self

With 55 total tournament game wins under his belt, Bill Self has quickly accomplished turning the Kansas Jayhawks into one of the best men’s college basketball programs. In his 18 seasons in Lawrence, Kansas’ Bill Self has won eight Big 12 Tournaments and one National Championship in three Final Four trips. Bill Self has also created a talent factory at the University of Kansas. Many current NBA players have been drafted out of KU, including the Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus, Devonte’ Graham, and Joel Embiid.

7. Tom Izzo

Tom Izzo is a local hero in East Lansing, Michigan, for securing 53 Tournament game wins during his coaching career. After a brief stint as an assistant coach at his alma mater Northern Michigan, Izzo joined the Michigan State University coaching staff in 1983. After twelve seasons as an assistant coach, Izzo was nominated to become head coach of the Spartans, following the retirement of the great Jud Heathcote. In 2000, after only five seasons in charge, Izzo led MSU to a National Championship. He has also developed NBA stars such as Draymond Green and Miles Bridges.

8. Jim Calhoun

With 49 wins in March Madness, Jim Calhoun is the eighth-winningest coach in men’s college basketball history. The Massachusetts-born has worked all of his life in New England, where he obtained his greatest success with the University of Connecticut. In 26 seasons as the head coach of the Huskies, Calhoun almost accomplished a perfect Final Four record, as he won the National Championship three times in four attempts. During his time at the University of Connecticut, Calhoun developed NBA stars such as Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Ray Allen, Kemba Walker, and Andre Drummond.

9. John Wooden

The late John Wooden is widely considered one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, having won 47 wins in NCAA Tournament games. He even claimed a record-setting ten National Championships in twelve trips to the Final Four. The Indiana native played at Purdue University for three seasons before coaching a few high school teams. In 1946, Wooden was named head coach at Indiana State, where he stayed for two years before moving to UCLA. In 27 seasons at the helm of the Bruins men’s basketball team, Wooden racked up over 600 career wins and developed all-time basketball greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Reggie Miller, and Bill Walton.

10. Lute Olson

From the 1970s onwards, Lute Olson was one of the greatest coaches to grace men’s collegiate basketball. In total, Olson ended his career with 46 total NCAA tournament wins. While coaching the University of Iowa Hawkeyes from 1974 to 1983, he began to gain steam in Division I play and even made it to the Final Four in 1980. From 1983 until his retirement in 2008, he then coached the Arizona Wildcats to much March Madness success, including four Final Four appearances in 1988, 1994, 1997, and 2001 plus a championship win in 1997. He was even added to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

Honorable Mentions

Bob Knight

One of the winningest college basketball coaches of all time, Bob Knight won 45 NCAA Tournament games. Best known for his time coaching the Indiana Hoosiers from 1971 to 2000, “The General” started his head coaching career at Army and ended it with a seven-year stint at Texas Tech. His tournament success began at Army, where he took the team to the postseason in four out of six seasons. At Indiana, Knight took the Hoosiers to a National Championship three times, in 1976, 1981, and 1987, with two additional Final Four appearances during his tenure. One of the most successful coaches ever, Knight has been inducted into the Basketball and College Basketball Halls of Fame. He is a two-time Henry Iba Award winner, the 1987 Naismith College Coach of the Year, and three-time AP Coach of the Year.

FAQ

Who is the greatest men’s college basketball coach of all time?

The greatest men’s college basketball coach of all time is Mike Krzyzewski. Throughout his time at Duke, Krzyzewski has beaten almost every single record once held by John Wooden, becoming a habitual Final Four participant and assembling some of the most entertaining teams of all time.

What men’s college basketball coach has the most Final Four appearances?

With 13 trips to the Final Four, Mike Krzyzewski leads the rankings in Final Four appearances. John Wooden is in second, with 12. Dean Smith ranks third with 11, Roy Williams ranks fourth with nine, and Tom Izzo ranks fifth with eight.

What men’s college basketball coach has the most March Madness tournament titles?

John Wooden’s ten National Championships in twelve seasons are still an NCAA record, despite the fact that almost 50 years have passed since his last title. Out of the currently active coaches, Bill Self leads the way with two National Championships, while Jim Boeheim and Tom Izzo have one each.