The Top Coaches in College Hoops

The all-time winningest coaches in division I

These are the giants of the game... their names are painted on stadiums and engraved on plaques in Springfield. Bob Knight. Dean Smith. Adolph Rupp.

It seems almost sacrilegious to include the names of current coaches on a list with these guys... but the fact is, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski just passed his mentor, Bob Knight, for first place on the all-time wins list with his 903rd career victory.

RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 21: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils calls out in the second half against the Mercer Bears in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 21, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Of his 800-plus career victories, all but the first 73 have come as head coach of the Duke Blue Devils. Like his mentor, Bob Knight, Coach K got his start at West Point.

On November 15th, 2011, Krzyzewski passed his mentor, winning career game number 903. And he did so on a grand stage, beating Michigan State by a score of 74-69 at Madison Square Garden.

Congratulations, Coach K. More »

02
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Bob Knight - 902

Bob Knight
Bob Knight. Getty Images / Ronald Martinez

"The General" amassed 661 of his 902 wins, and all three national titles during his legendary -- and controversial -- stint at Indiana. This season he'll be working the sidelines once again: behind a microphone, as an analyst for ESPN.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and guard Gerry McNamara
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and guard Gerry McNamara were all smiles after an overtime win in the 2007 Big East Tournament. Getty Images / Jim McIsaac

Boeheim has been associated with Syracuse Basketball since the last days of the Kennedy administration -- as a player, assistant, and head coach. His teams have posted winning records in every one of his 31 seasons -- and reached the postseason every year but one (when the '93 team was banned from postseason play due to recruiting violations). More »

04
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Dean Smith - 879

Dean Smith
Dean Smith. Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox

Smith earned every one of his 879 career victories leading his beloved Tar Heels. North Carolina's campus arena is named in his honor -- officially it's the Smith Center, but fans know it as the "Dean Dome." Smith has one of the most successful "coaching trees" in the world of basketball -- his roster of ex-players and assistants includes current UNC coach Roy Williams and Larry Brown of the Charlotte Bobcats.

Jim Calhoun
Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun scowls on the sideline during the 2008 Big East Tournament. Getty Images / Karl Walter

On the Mount Rushmore of New England sports heroes, Jim Calhoun's face is right up there with Larry Bird, Tom Brady, David Ortiz, and Bobby Orr. Rising up through the ranks of Massachusetts high school leagues, he built Northeastern from a Division II afterthought to a NCAA Tournament team, then took a Big East doormat in rural Connecticut and turned the Huskies into a national power. More »

06
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Adolph Rupp - 876

Coach Explaining Plays Diagram
Members of the University of Kentucky basketball team, left to right, Alex Groza, Jim Jordan, Jack Parkinson, and Ralph Beard, listen to coach Adolph Rupp (left) as he diagrams the plays. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Adolph Rupp learned the game from Dr. James Naismith himself at the University of Kansas, then made Kentucky into one of the sports' most venerated programs. He won 876 games and four national titles with the Wildcats between 1930 and 1972, when he hit the university's mandatory retirement age of 70. (Can you imagine a college basketball coach being forced out due to an official university retirement policy today?)

07
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Jim Phelan - 830

Phelan is easily the least-recognizable coach on this list, having spent his entire coaching career at Mount St. Mary's. Phelan led the Mountaineers to 830 wins over 49 seasons before retiring in 2003. If you want to get technical, the bulk of his wins came in Division II, where the Mount played hoops before 1988. But the official NCAA record book counts the victories of any coach that spent more 10 or more years in Division I in the Division I record book, and who are we to argue?

08
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Eddie Sutton - 804

Eddie Sutton
Eddie Sutton. Getty Images / Otto Greule Jr.

Compared to the other coaches on this list, who amassed their win totals at one or two schools, Sutton was a real vagabond -- with stints at Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma State -- and a brief appearance as interim head coach at San Francisco, which helped him get over the 800-win plateau for his career. Sutton also had the most serious run-ins with the NCAA; on his watch in the late eighties, the University of Kentucky was hit with a wide range of violations and very nearly received the "death penalty."

09
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Lefty Driesell - 786

Lefty Driesell
Lefty Driesell. Getty Images / Brian Bahr

Driesell was coach when Davidson had its first run of significant basketball success in the late 1960s. He then took over at Maryland, the job for which he's best known. His tenure in College Park was successful but ended badly; Driesell was forced to resign as a result of the controversy surrounding the sudden death of Maryland star Len Bias and related allegations of rampant drug use within the program. After leaving the Terrapins, Driesell had successful runs at James Madison and Georgia Southern before retiring in January 2003, at age 71.

Lute Olson
Lute Olson returns to the bench for the Arizona Wildcats this season, where he'll face one of the most challenging seasons of his long and storied career. Getty Images / Jonathan Daniel

Olson is best known as the coach that made the Arizona Wildcats a fixture in the NCAA Tournament for a quarter century -- and the champions in 1997. Unfortunately, his tenure with the Wildcats didn't end as planned... he intended to return for the 2008-09 season after taking a year-long sabbatical, but health issues prevented him from following through with the plan. He retired very suddenly in October 2008, and days later it was revealed that he'd suffered a stroke during his time away from the program. More »

11
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Lou Henson - 780

Lou Henson Illinois
27 Jan 1996: Head coach Lou Henson of the Illinois Fighting Illini yells at forward Chris Gandy #45 on the sideline during the game against the Northwestern Wildcats at the Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois. Illinois defeated Northwestern 74-62. Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

Henson's career is bookended by two stints as head coach at his alma mater, New Mexico State. Henson got his start there in 1966 and led the Aggies to the Final Four in 1970. In 1975 he moved to Illinois, taking over when Gene Bartow left to replace John Wooden at UCLA. He coached the Illini through 21 seasons and 12 NCAA Tournament appearances and the 1989 Final Four before retiring in 1996. When New Mexico State coach Neil McCarthy was forced to resign two days before the 1997 season was to begin, Henson returned to the Aggies as interim coach for a salary of just $1 a month. That "interim" job actually lasted until 2004, when a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma forced him to leave the team. He formally retired in 2005.