College basketball coaches have to wear many hats. They recruit, coach, mentor and develop. It’s a hard job that deserves recognition when done well. With that, here are the top 25 college basketball coaches.
Note: First-year coaches will not be included on the list. No matter how promising they look.
25. Tommy Lloyd, Arizona Wildcats
Arizona was another team without high expectations for the 2021-22 season. Lloyd got a lot out of the team, as they finished 33-4. The postseason did not go their way, as they lost in the Sweet 16, but Lloyd started off his career in a great way.
24. Nate Oats, Alabama Crimson Tide
After having some success at Buffalo, Oats joined Alabama. He would’ve missed the tournament in year one, then made the Sweet 16 in year two. Last season, the Crimson Tide got bounced in the first round. He has recruited talent to Alabama and should have another tournament run soon enough.
23. Greg McDermott, Creighton Blue Jays
McDermott helped Creighton transition to the Big East, all while improving the program. The Blue Jays are recruiting better than ever and have four of the last five NCAA Tournaments. There is reason to expect big things out of Creighton in the future with their excellent recruiting.
22. Hubert Davis, North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tar Heels did not have a good regular season in Davis’s first year as head coach. They ended up getting a no. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but went on a run to the National Championship Game. The run helps make it known that Davis can put some good games together, but he’ll have to produce over a longer period of time to really move up this list.
21. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Orange
Boeheim is a legend, but the Orange haven’t been the same in the recent years. They have just two 20-win seasons since 2014. The Orange did make the Final Four in 2016, but they have missed two NCAA Tournaments since. Last season, they had an under .500 record. He has to get things back on track or could continue to move down this list.
20. Rick Pitino, Iona Gaels
After returning to college basketball, Pitino immediately made the NCAA Tournament with Iona. Last season was his second as the lead man of the Gaels and Pitino led the team to a great regular season, but they were upset in the conference tournament. Pitino is proving he can still coach well, even at the mid-major level.
19. Rick Barnes, Tennessee Volunteers
Barnes has done some really good work with the Volunteers. He has made four straight NCAA Tournaments and put some good teams on the floor. At Tennessee, he has made a Sweet 16 appearance, but lately has failed to go on a deep run. His regular season success provides reason enough to rank him, but Tennessee fans want more.
18. Brad Underwood, Illinois Fighting Illini
While his first two seasons at Illinois didn’t go too well, Underwood has gotten things under control. The Fighting Illini have had a few good regular seasons in a row. Now, Underwood just has to get the team past the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
17. Greg Gard, Wisconsin Badgers
Not many expected Wisconsin to be good last season, but they grossly exceeded expectations. Wisconsin won 25 games and were a no. 3 seed. During Gard’s tenure, they have missed just one NCAA Tournament. The Badgers lost Johnny Davis, so Gard will need to help new impact players step up this season.
16. Juwan Howard, Michigan Wolverines
In three seasons, Howard has made a Sweet 16 and an Elite Eight (the first season he was at Michigan the tournament was canceled). He has recruited well and even though the regular season was shaky last year, Howard has earned some respect. The start to his career has been good, now he needs to keep it going.
15. Dana Altman, Oregon Ducks
Altman has over 700 career wins that have come at Marshall, Kansas State, Creighton and Oregon. With the Ducks, he was able to make the Final Four in 2017 and consistently compete atop the Pac-12. He has made seven of the last nine NCAA Tournaments and looks like he should be able to get the Ducks to bounce back after missing the tournament last season.
14. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State Seminoles
Hamilton and the Seminoles had a rough 2021-22 season, as they missed the tournament. Before that point, they had four straight NCAA Tournaments and they won the ACC the year the tournament was not held. Hamilton has specialized in having deep teams and has even led the Seminoles to a no. 1 seed. He also has two Sweet 16 appearances. The Seminoles need to bounce back this season, but Hamilton has done fantastic things at Florida State.
13. Bob Huggins, West Virginia Mountaineers
No one wants to play West Virginia with the tough defense that Bob Huggins leads. He has led two different teams to the Final Four. He has 844 career wins and the only thing not making him a top 10 coach is that the Mountaineers have missed two of the last three tournaments. Getting back to the big dance will help Huggins retain his spot on the list.
12. Mick Cronin UCLA Bruins
Cronin was always seen as a solid coach at Cincinnati, but moving to UCLA helped him reach another level. He paired a Final Four run with a Sweet 16 appearance last season. He certainly has moved up the list, but moving into the top 10 is a little much unless he can sustain a decent level of success with the Bruins.
11. Matt Painter, Purdue Boilermakers
With five Sweet 16 appearances and an Elite Eight, Painter probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He is still speaking his first Final Four, but has a 67.5 win percentage in his career and has won the Big Ten. Getting a Final Four appearance or staying consistent will likely get Painter to slowly move up the list.
10. Eric Musselman, Arkansas Razorbacks
Musselman has worked the transfer portal and recruited well. It has paid off. He has two straight Elite Eight appearances with the Razorbacks. He also has a Sweet 16 appearance with Nevada before joining Arkansas. There is a lot of hype surrounding the Razorbacks this season, so Musselman could jump up quite a few spots by the end of the year.
9. Bruce Pearl, Auburn Tigers
Pearl did well at Tennessee before being forced out. At Auburn, he has taken a basketball program with not much history to a Final Four. He had the Tigers poised for a run in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, but they lost in the second round. Pearl has a 62.9 winning percentage at Auburn, but that is greatly brought down by his first few years when he was just getting started.
8. Chris Beard, Texas Longhorns
At Texas Tech, Beard was able to go to a National Championship Game and an Elite Eight. Before last season, he took the job at Texas and took the Longhorns to the second round. He will need to help the Longhorns advance further in the tournament to retain his spot on these rankings, but career accomplishments he has garnered in a short amount of time is impressive.
7. Kelvin Sampson, Houston Cougars
Sampson has coached at big programs in the past, but that didn’t end well. He has found a home at Houston and has taken them the program’s greatest heights since the “Phi Slama Jama” days. He has made a Final Four and won three AAC Coach of the Year Awards. It wasn’t easy taking Houston from mediocrity to a team that is constantly in the top 25, but Sampson was able to do it.
6. Tony Bennett, Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia wasn’t an easy job, but Bennett has made the most of it. He won a National Championship in 2019 and has a nice program. If he could’ve sustained some of that success for the 2021-22 season, he would like rank in the top five, but missing the NCAA Tournament brings some questions about the direction of the program in the next few seasons.
5. Tom Izzo, Michigan State Spartans
Izzo is another coach who has taken some flack in recent years. No Big Ten team has won the NCAA Tournament since his Spartans did in 2000. That title gives him something few other coaches have at this point. In recent years, the Izzo magic in March hasn’t quite been there, but the program continually makes the tournament. He does have a Final Four as recently as 2019, but needs to advance far in March again to retain his top five ranking.
4. Scott Drew, Baylor Bears
There may not have been a bigger mess that has been inherited than Drew did when he took over for Baylor. The team was looking into a new direction after a teammate murdered a player. Drew took a while, as was expected, but he facilitated Baylor going from the bottom of the Big 12 all the way to National Champions in 2021. The reason he doesn’t rank even higher on this list is that there have been some down years in Drew’s tenure, but the last five years have been incredible.
3. Mark Few, Gonzaga Bulldogs
Taking Gonzaga from a Cinderella team to a national contender has not been an easy task for Few. He has hung around at Gonzaga, as one of the more tenured coaches in the country, and it is because of how well he has built the program. The two-time Coach of the Year has two Final Fours under his belt, while maintaining a 83.6 win percentage. The only thing left for Few to add to his list of accomplishments is winning a National Championship.
2. John Calipari, Kentucky Wildcats
Calipari has drawn some criticism over the last few seasons. The 2020-2021 season was a disaster. In 2021-2022, the team had some promise, but were upset by the no. 15 seed St. Peter’s Peacocks. Calipari still has plenty of Final Fours, Elite Eights and tournament wins under his belt at Kentucky. While some of the recent retirements help him remain in a lofty ranking, Calipari recruits well and has done a good job at Kentucky. He needs to get things back on track this season though to save himself from falling down the list.
1. Bill Self, Kansas Jayhawks
After winning his second National Championship, Self takes the top spot on this list. There is an argument to be made that Kansas would’ve won the National Championship in 2020 before the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to COVID, but that will never be known. With so many high-profile coaches (Coach K, Roy Williams and Jay Wright) stepping away from the game, Self is one of the few constants and the only active coach (count Rick Pitino though before the 2013 title was vacated) with multiple National Championships.
Just Missing the Cut
Ed Cooley, Providence Friars- Cooley is a very good coach, but he has missed two of the last three tournaments. Going to back to back tournaments by qualifying this season should move him back into the top 25.
Randy Bennett, St. Mary’s Gaels- St. Mary’s and Bennett have been the biggest competition in the WCC for Gonzaga. He has one Sweet 16 in his career and just needs to advance further in the tournament more consistently to move up this list.
Jamie Dixon, TCU Horned Frogs- Dixon did a great job at Pittsburgh and now is building TCU well. The Horned Frogs made the NCAA Tournament last season, but this season they could do even more.
Brian Dutcher, San Diego State Aztecs- Dutcher has made three NCAA Tournaments in four opportunities, but the highlight of his coaching career may have been during the 2019-20 season when the NCAA Tournament was canceled. The Aztecs went 30-2 that season.
Andy Enfield, USC Trojans- Enfield rose to fame because of the “Dunk City” team at FGCU. At USC, he has made just four NCAA Tournaments. The Elite Eight run in 2021 helps, but Enfield needs to keep the positive momentum going.
Dan Hurley, UConn Huskies- In the last two seasons, Hurley has helped UConn get in the NCAA Tournament. He needs to advance in March to rise up the list.
Jim Laranaga, Miami Hurricanes- The Final Four run with George Mason was legendary, but Laranaga has also had some success at Miami. He has won ACC Coach of the Year twice and had a nice bounce-back year in 2021-22 with the Hurricanes making the tournament.
Sean Miller, Xavier Musketeers- The end of Miller’s tenure at Arizona did not go well and he will always be knocked for not getting to a Final Four. Now, he is back at Xavier where he helped establish the Musketeers as a Cinderella many years ago. The program has fallen off in the last few years, but Miller has a long history of success and should be able to get the Musketeers to the NCAA Tournament in year one.
Chris Holtmann, Ohio State Buckeyes- Holtmann has made the NCAA Tournament every season it has been hosted since he joined Ohio State. Unfortunately, the deep tournament runs haven’t come yet. He’s close to the top 25, but more postseason success or some Big Ten titles would help his standing.
Mike Brey, Notre Dame Fighting Irish- Brey has a lot of history and has done a good job at Notre Dame. The problem is the Fighting Irish have made just one tournament since 2017.
Kevin Willard, Maryland Terrapins- Willard made five of the last six NCAA Tournaments with Seton Hall. He didn’t get too far in any of those tournaments and now has a new challenge with Maryland.
Shaheen Holloway, Seton Hall Pirates- After a dream run to the Elite Eight, Holloway signed on with Seton Hall, where he used to play. In the tournament run, he ran great sets and his team played tough defense. It is still premature to put him in the top 25, but he is well on his way to being a great head coach.
Buzz Williams, Texas A&M Aggies- Williams has not been to an NCAA Tournament with the Aggies yet after they were snubbed for the 2022 edition. At every stop though, Williams has found success. It looks like good things are coming to the Aggies, but Williams needs to make a tournament before getting on the list.
Go to our college basketball page for more news and updates like Top 25 College Basketball Coaches!