Top 50 College Basketball Coaches According to Athlon Sports

john calipari kentucky

john calipari

Athlon Sports ranks the top 50 college basketball coaches for the 2013-2014 season. Big Blue Nation, John Calipari isn’t ranked #1, in fact he is #4. I’ll let you read this excerpt from the Athlon Sports article to see who is ahead of Coach Cal.

1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State
Record (all at Michigan State): 439-178 overall (.712), 209-95 Big Ten (.693)
NCAA Tournament: 39-16, six Final Fours, one national championship
Tom Izzo will have two McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster in 2013-14 in Keith Appling and Gary Harris, a rarity for the longtime Spartans’ coach. Few coaches have weathered the changes in college basketball as well as Izzo — the changes in the NBA Draft rules, the ups and downs in the Big Ten and all the challenges that come with recruiting. Izzo has assembled the Big Ten’s most consistent program without a glut of first-round draft picks (none since 2006) or early entries to the NBA Draft (none during the one-and-done era). Consider this: Appling and Adreian Payne are looking to avoid becoming the first senior class to play all four years with Izzo and miss the Final Four.

2. Rick Pitino, Louisville
Record: 662-235
Record at Louisville: 310-111 overall (.736), 137-67 Conference USA/Big East (.672)
NCAA Tournament: 48-16, seven Final Fours, two national championships
Pitino further added his name to the record book by becoming the first coach to win an NCAA title at two different schools. He’ll have a chance to add a third title to the mantle as the Cardinals enter 2013-14 as a top-three team. In the AAC, he has no peer has an Tournament coach. His 48 NCAA wins are 15 more than the other nine coaches in the league combined. His teams are generally among the best defensive squads in the country with their ability to force turnovers. Pitino also is an excellent in-game tactician. But the legendary coach also has softened his demeanor in recent years. Just ask Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.

3. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
Record: 957-238
Record at Duke: 884-238 overall (.788), 350-153 ACC (.696)
NCAA Tournament: 82-25, 11 Final Fours, four national championships
Since 2007, Duke has lost in the NCAA Tournament to an 11th-seeded VCU, seventh-seeded West Virginia and 15th-seeded Lehigh. In that span, Mike Krzyzewski still managed his fourth national title and four 30-win seasons. Krzyzewski has passed Bob Knight on the all-time wins list and now chases Pat Summitt’s 1,098 wins in NCAA basketball. With a preseason top-five team on his hands in 2013-14, Krzyzewski remains at the top of his game.

4. John Calipari, Kentucky
Record: 568-166
Record at Kentucky: 123-26 overall (.826), 52-14 SEC (.788)
NCAA Tournament: 38-13, four Final Fours, one national championship
Calipari had his worst season since 2004-05 at Memphis as Kentucky went 21-12 and lost to Robert Morris in the NIT. True, this was not a typical Calipari team, but the Wildcats were on the verge of the NCAA Tournament before star Nerlens Noel went down with a leg injury. But Calipari should rebound in a way only he can. While his 2012-13 team plodded through an unimpressive SEC, Calipari was assembling one of the best recruiting classes of all time. Calipari could turn an NIT embarrassment into another Final Four appearance or more in 2013-14.

Read College Basketball: Ranking the Top 50 Coaches for 2013-14 by clicking here.

Let us know if you agree with these rankings, by leaving a comment.

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About the Author

Chad Pugh
I am a die hard Kentucky fan, and I love being able to cover UK sports. I've had season football tickets for 17 years. Follow me on twitter @ChadPugh_NOB.
  • Moonage

    The top four make no sense whatsoever. Tom Izzo has the worst winning percentage, the fewest championships, and as you guys mention, hasn’t been to a Final Four in nearly four years. Coach K has FOUR national championships, but is third? I despise Coach K, but he’s historically the best. Coach Cal might catch him some day, but for right now he still gets my vote.

    Athlon apparently thinks being in the Big Ten apparently merits special recognition. What exactly have they won in the last decade?

    That’s right. This thing is bogus.

  • Denny Bullock

    Do those guys know ANYTHING about College Basketball???

  • Reid Ward

    I like Izzo, but he is clearly 4th on this list. I hate Coach K, but can respect what he has done. However, there is no doubt that the other two are better right now! The only argument I see for Cal being #1 is the future recruiting prospects and the recent defections from UL.

  • Myra E Spiess Carver

    Coach Cal is always #1 on my list! Can’t stand any of the other 3 and I don’t really care what they have done……Oh wait, Izzo hasn’t done anything!

  • Scott Spears

    This list is completely ridiculous, to the point that it makes me suspicious of their intentions…stirring up controversy generates hits, after all. Coach K is the top coach right now, there is no logical argument to that. He is the all time leader in wins, he has 4 national championships. He is likely the best coach of all time.

    Pitino has 2 titles, more wins than Calipari, and more Final Fours. Tricky Ricky is the 2nd best coach today.

    Calipari has 1 title, just like Izzo. However, Cal has the best winning percentage of anybody on this list, while Izzo has the worst. Cal is easily the best coach in college ball over the last 5 years, and likely the best going forward. Cal is easily the best recruiter on this list. These things have to amount for something.

    Izzo is only arguably the 4th best coach, as Jim Boeheim and Bill Self both have very strong cases for that spot. Self has one national title, and 2 final fours, and 504 wins. Boeheim has 1 national title, 4 final fours, and 920 wins, more than anybody on this list besides Coach K. Izzo’s 1 national title, 6 final fours, and 439 wins aren’t significantly more impressive than these two men’s resumes.

    • Dale Martin

      Scott, are you nuts. Rick has had 7 of 12 seasons at loserville with 10+ loses. The article says he’s a great in game tactician, guess so if your a Duke or UNC fan. Duke loved his coaching in 92 and UNC loved it when he went into the tourney the #1 overall seed and they beat him because Williams adjusted at the half to beat his press and he never called it off and went home looking like a fool.

      • Mike Lyttle

        Also don’t forget Rick is also barely over 50% in games decided by 6 points or less. Last year against ND with 6 chances to draw up a game winning play he just gave the ball to one of the worst decision makers to ever play guard for Rick and told him to win it. Rick is a great defensive coach but not an in game tactician.

      • Scott Spears

        I’m glad to see you’re thinking clearly, without the slightest hint of UK bias. Just because you hate the man (I’m no fan of his myself, either) doesn’t mean I’m nuts for giving credit where credit is due. Wins matter, but titles matter more. As for the UNC loss, I assume you refer to 2008, when Louisville lost to UNC in the Sweet 16. UNC was the #1 seed, Louisville was the #3 seed. That UNC team had Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, and was the top seed in the tournament. They went to the Final Four. I wouldn’t say Pitino looked like a “fool” for losing that game.

        • Dale Martin

          No i’m not talking 2008 it was 04 or 05, UL was the 1 seed and the game i’m talking about he got out coached and looked like an idiot. The announcers was asking when he was going to call of the press and he never did. And it’s not because he’s at loserville I was glad to see him leave here. In 12 seasons at UL he had 7 seasons with 10+ losses and 2 NIT’s losses. Losing records against Tubby 2-4, Cal 1-4 and a winning record against Billy G 2-0, not much to hang his hat on. And when Tubby went 4-2 against Rick all of Rick’s players were gone from UK and before you as Rick’s boys like to say Tubby won with Ricks players in 98, the team Rick won with in 96 had 9 future NBA players on it, the team he lost with in 97 had 6 futrue NBA players on it and the one Tubby won with in 98 had 3.

          • Scott Spears

            Pitino took over the UL Cardinals in 2001. His first postseason was 2003. In 2003, UL lost to Butler in the 2nd round. In 2004, they lost to Xavier in the first round. In 2005, they lost to Illinois in the Final Four. Pretty sure he didn’t look like an idiot that year. In 2007, they lost to Texas A&M in the 2nd round (yes, the Billy Gillispie coached team). 2008 was the only time Pitino lost to UNC in the NCAA tournament while coaching UL, and I explained that in great detail already.


    • Cynthia N. Blackburn

      Scott, Pitino only has one more championship than Calipari .— read up.

      • Dale Martin

        So, talent takes you a long way, Pitino’s record is games decided by 5 pts or less is the lowest of this group, it’s around 33%, if he has to talent to blow you out he can win but he sucks in games where it takes X’s and O’s to get it done.He had a losing record against Tubby since going to Loserville and very few thought Tubby could coach. I bet Rick wishes billy g was still here, only UK coach he had a winning record against. In 06 or 07 UL was #1 overall seed when he bowed out in sweet 16 to UNC, Williams adjusted to the press at the half and Rick only knows how to play one way. I guess he does score more with his staffs wives more than they do.

      • Dale Martin

        Yes he does, in 96 a monkey could’ve won with that UK team that had 9 future NBA players on it, last year with 2 big east refs calling the final 4 game against Wichita St there was 1 foul called on loserville in the last 8:43 of the game with no less than 11 fouls being committed by the cards. This isn’t some idiot ranting look it all up, you can see all what I’ve claimed in the records, box score and game summary on ESPN.COM.

      • Scott Spears

        I was quite clear that Pitino had 2 titles and Calipari has one. You might want to read up….at what I said…before telling me to read up.

    • Dale Martin

      Rick has coached for 12 more years than Cal so he should have more wins. Everyone run down Tubby, Rick was 2-4 against Tubby and he’s 1-4 against Cal. The only UK coach he has a winning record against was Billy G, 2-0 his overall record against UK is 5-8 with 2 being against Billy G, not a lot to brag about. Coach K has won more titles but his percentage in the final 4’s is the worst. Talent will take you a long way but 4 titles in 13 tries not so great.

  • Dale Martin

    Rick got into the HOF for what he did at UK more than UL. In 8 years at UK his record was 219-50, 1 season with 10 + losses (his first) 3 final 4’s and no NIT’s. In 12 years at UL his record is 310-111, 7 seasons with 10 + losses, 3 final 4’s and 2 NIT’s. His record in the last 10 years is the worst of anyone on this list. So he won the title last year, he beat a terrible UK team by 3 pts in the chicken bucket and for the 1st time in the last 5 games. Look at the top 5 coaches on this list and their records for the last 10 years and he does lead them all in one catagory, he makes more money per loss than any of the others. Billy D has done so much better than him is the last 10 years, not even close. Rick cannot coach, he’s great at recruiting, motivating and sleeping with his friends wives. I hated it when he came to UK, hated him while he was here and hate him even more now, The only day I was ever a pitino fan was the day he announced he was leaving UK. Why would anyone want their kid to play for him, look at his players and then go back to when Denny Crum was coaching UL. Back in Crum’s day they had had class, Rick’s teams at UL look like ghetto rats.

  • Dale Martin

    Here is there list of the top 10 with their win-loss record and championships won in last 10 years:
    Izzo 250-100 (0), Pitino 266-91 (1), Coach K 294-63 (1), Cal 304-64 (1), Bill Self 300-59 (1), Boeheim 267-88 (0), Williams 282-79 (2), Donovan 266-93 (2), Thad Matta 276-84 (0), John Beilein 212-130 (0).

  • Dale Martin

    Looking at the list below and what they’ve done in the last 10 years how is Izzo ahead of any of them except John Beilein. How is coach Pitino ahead of Bill Self, Cal, Donovan or Williams. Numbers don’t lie, you can have a couple good teams and make the final 4 and maybe even win a title such as Rick did but in the last 10 years the top 6 coaches that’s won a title, trips to final 4 and win-loss records are Cal, Bill Self, Roy Williams, Coach K, Donovan and then Rick.

  • plcc07777

    Where is Roy Williams … LOL