9 Winningest Final Four Coaches of All Time
It is difficult enough to coach a team to the Final Four of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. But it is even more difficult to win once you are there. (That logic just totally blew your mind, didn’t it?) For that reason, the winningest Final Four coaches in the history of the tournament deserve special recognition. Because trying your best doesn’t make you a winner. Actually winning does.
So give them the recognition they deserve (passively, in the abstract) by clicking through this listicle. It features the nine winningest Final Four coaches of all time as determined by our complicated formula that counts the number of national championships they won.
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Winningest Final Four Coaches of All Time
In a stretch between the years 1945 and 1951, Henry Iba took the Oklahoma State men's basketball team to four Final Fours, with two consecutive championship wins in 1945 and 1946. Today, his name lives on in the form of the Henry Iba Award, given to the best college basketball coach according to the United States Basketball Writers Association.
Unlike the majority of the coaches on this list, Rick Pitino has made multiple Final Four appearances with multiple schools. Three, to be precise, with one for Providence, and three each for both Kentucky and Louisville.
Rick PitinoBob Knight is one of the rare group of NCAA basketball coaches who's known even to those who don't follow the sport - he's the guy that throws chairs around and chokes people, right? But on the court he took his Indiana team to five Final Fours between 1973 and 1992, winning the national championship in three of those years.
Since first taking Connecticut to the Final Four in 1999, coach Jim Calhoun has done so another four times, most recently in 2011. And in three of those four years, he took his team all the way to a national championship.
Another coach on this list to work his magic at multiple schools is Roy Williams, who's been a Final Four stalwart with both Kansas and North Carolina. Altogether, he's got seven Final Four appearances to his name, as well as two national championships.
You know a guy's an old-timer when his name is "Adolph" (that name tended to drop precipitously in popularity sometime around 1940, not really sure why), but Adolph Rupp's six Final Four appearances and four national championships with Kentucky between 1942 and 1966 remains impressive today.
Besides the following two coaches on this list, North Carolina's recently departed Dean Smith has the most Final Four appearances of anyone, with 11 from between the years 1967 and 1997. Two of those years ended with national championships for his team - definitely a career than anyone in the sport can be jealous of.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is having one incredible stretch, with 12 appearances in the Final Four since 1986, which ties him for having the most appearances of any coach in the history of the tourney. And with four national championships under his belt so far, he may be on his way to surpass that record in the very near future.
The coach with the most Final Four wins and the most national championships is John Wooden, who had a truly remarkable career with UCLA between the years 1962 and 1975, failing to make it into the Final Four only two of those years, and with national championships won in ten of them.