College Basketball’s Best Coaches: Fans Have Their Say

Ranking College Basketball Coaches
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The college basketball season is in full swing, with Purdue and UConn among the teams atop the rankings. While the Boilermakers and Huskies are likely to be most people’s favorites for their March Madness brackets, fans know that the sport is more than star players like Zach Edey and Donovan Clingan showcasing their skills on the court. 

College basketball is about the people who shape it. It’s the coaches who lead their teams and inspire the crowds in the stadiums and viewers at home. When it comes to the leading men making the calls, it’s not just their coaching abilities that fans admire. 

We surveyed 2,000 American college basketball fans to discover the nation’s most loved coaches when it comes to persona, leadership, style, and swagger. We asked: would fans choose their team’s coach as their top pick for a casual hangout? Who are the coaches that fans find most attractive, not just for their coaching skills but for their personal style and approachability? And much more.

Check out the best ranking college basketball coaches, as chosen by the fans. 

Oddspedia_College Basketball Coaches

Best Strategist – Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University)

When evaluating coaches on their game planning, tactics, and overall strategic acumen, it’s no surprise that the honor goes to Mike Krzyzewski. Out of all the categories, “Coach K” received the most vote,  with 23% of people saying he’s the best tactical mind in college hoops – even though he’s been retired for almost two years. Has there ever been a better strategist? 

Coach K was Duke’s head coach from 1980 to 2022 and led the Blue Devils to five national titles, 13 Final Fours (which was the most of any coach), 15 ACC tournament championships, and 13 ACC regular season titles. It seemed that everything Krzyzewski touched (literally) turned to gold. As coach of the United States national team, he won three Olympic titles at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Games. 

Best Style – Jay Wright (Villanova University)

Is there a coach who could pull off a pinstripe better than Jay Wright? He guided Villanova to two national championships in 2016 and 2018. Over a 21-year career with the Wildcats, Wright cut an impressive figure courtside, with his Clooney-esq looks and gray locks. He was ranked the king of style, despite retiring in 2022, with 12% of the votes. Nobody worked a court like Jay Wright in his suit and tie. 

Best Interviews – Tom Izzo (Michigan State)

Tom Izzo is Michigan born and bred. He’s been the head coach of the Michigan State men’s basketball team since 1995, so when he’s doing interviews, we know everything he’s saying is coming from the heart. Just last year, Izzo broke down in tears during an on-court interview after Michigan had reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The man eats, sleeps, and breathes Michigan basketball. He’s known for his colorful interviews, which is why he was so popular with college basketball fans in this category, taking 13% of the votes.

Best Reactions During Games – Dan Hurley (UConn)

The Huskies’ Dan Hurley lives every moment with his players, which is why he was the fans’ favorite when it comes to game-time reactions from the bench. His chest bump with Jim Boeheim back in 2018 is still an iconic image that resonates with UConn fans. Watching Hurley animated courtside is almost as fun as viewing the game itself, which is probably why he topped the category with 10% of the votes. 

Most Attractive – Jay Wright (Villanova University)

Again, can you name a coach who looks better in a suit? The jaw, the hair, the finesse. Some people just have it all. With great style comes good looks, which is why Coach Wright topped the Best Style and Most Attractive categories. Of all the people we surveyed, 11% agreed that Jay Wright is a stud. 

Most Fans Want to Have a Beer With – Ed Cooley & Bobby Hurley (Georgetown University and Arizona State University)

Bobby Hurley has been there and done it as a player. He’s even played for Coach K. The older brother of UConn’s Dan Hurley, Bobby comes across as the inspirational elder statesman who would have a few stories to share. 

Ed Cooley, meanwhile, can give Jay Wright a run for his money in the style department. His kicks are as cool as his suits, and he’s the kind of dude anyone can vibe with. Both coaches tied this category with an impressive 15% of the votes each. 

Funniest – Bruce Pearl (Auburn University)

Like every coach, Bruce Pearl wants to win. He wants to win so badly, fans enjoy watching him animated on the side of the court just as much as viewing the game itself. He’s up and down the court more than his players, with arms waving and a few choice words at times. And he tops the voting with 9%. Fans can’t get enough. 

Best Recruiter – John Calipari (University of Kentucky)

Calipari has overseen UK since 2009, and throughout that time the Wildcats have had an incredible list of star talent step into Rupp Arena. Coach Calipari has recruited Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony-Towns, Malik Monk, and Jamal Murray, to name a few. A fifth (20%) of the college fans we surveyed agreed that there is no better recruiter in the game. 

Most Inspirational – Mike Krzyzewski (Duke University) 

Coach K was the cornerstone of college basketball with Duke for decades. He’s done it all and was the godfather of college hoops until he retired. The man bled championships, and both players and fans alike were ready to run through walls for him. He got 17% of the votes, the undisputed winner of the most inspirational category. 

Best Game-Time Decision Maker – Bill Self (University of Kansas) 

This category is about the coach who makes the best in-game decisions while under pressure. Bill Self is the only coach in Kansas history to lead the men’s basketball team to multiple NCAA Tournament titles, including one in 2022. In accordance with the 21% of fans who voted Self as the best game-time decision maker, Self was made the highest paid hoops coach in public college history last November. 

Most Community-Oriented – Roy Williams (University of North Carolina)

We asked fans for the coach they felt is the most actively engaged in and contributes positively to their local community. Even though he retired in 2021, Roy Williams came out on top with 11% of the votes. The Hall of Fame coach was instrumental in recruiting Michael Jordan to UNC when he was an assistant coach early in his career. Williams is a UNC legend. He was born in North Carolina, played for UNC and coached the Tar Heels in different capacities over decades. He can even still be seen attending every UNC home game.

Best Player Development – Scott Drew (Baylor University)

Is there a more positive coach than Drew? When he took charge of the Baylor Bears, he wanted his team to reflect on his positive approach. His energy is effervescent, which translates on the court. Under his leadership, the Bears won their first ever national championship in 2021. Drew’s astute development skills have unearthed gems such as Taurean Prince and Jeremy Sochan. There’s no surprise that 16% of the votes credited Drew as the best coach to develop talent.  

Most Charismatic Leader – Kelvin Sampson (University of Houston)

Sampson changed the culture at Houston as soon as he took over. The charismatic leader did not shy away from telling the organization where the problems were, and what needed fixing. His coaching style is infectious, and that is why he topped the votes with 15%. 

Best Under Pressure – Bill Self (University of Kansas)

Like Coach K at Duke, Bill Self has done it all. College hoops fans share the love for Coach Self, with full appreciation of his success and ability to turn things around in the heat of the action. This includes Kansas’ 15-point comeback in the 2022 National Championship game. Self got an impressive 21% of the votes in this category. A GOAT in the eyes of many. 

Most Innovative – Tony Bennett (University of Virginia) 

Bennett took over at the University of Virginia in 2009. He’s turned around the fortunes of the team incredibly during his tenure. They won the NCAA title in 2019, and he has delivered six ACC titles and two ACC tournaments. The way he transformed their fortunes, particularly with their defensive approach, is engrained in the minds of college fans. He topped the category with 10% of the votes. 

Best Role Model – Hubert Davis (University of North Carolina)

This category is for the coach who is the best mentor or guidance figure, helping players grow not only as athletes but as individuals. Davis had a strong playing career in the NBA and coached as an assistant to the legendary Roy Williams until he retired. He’s the first African American to lead the Tar Heels, using his experience to steward his players. Of all the coaches in college basketball, fans see Davis as the ultimate role model, taking 16% of the votes. 

Conclusion

College basketball fans appreciate the diversity of their coaches. From the old school approach of Coach K to the exuberant style of Dan Hurley, college coaches bring their unique application to the game hoops fans love. They might not all be blessed with the handsome looks of Jay Wright, but if the team is winning, who cares? As shown, there are many traits that make a coach an excellent leader.

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