When we often talk about national championship teams and blue bloods in college basketball, we reference great players, winning moments and the coaches behind these programs. Here are the best coaches in the NCAA tournament and if the names seem familiar, it’s because they have been mainstays in the sport.
Best coaches in 2023 NCAA Tournament
Bob Huggins, West Virginia Mountaineers
NCAA Tournament record: 33-24
The “Huggy Bear” has consistently punched above his weight in the tournament. He turned Cincinnati into a machine, reaching a Final Four and two Elite Eights with the program. He’s done similar things at West Virginia, with one Final Four and four Sweet 16 berths. His defensive system is hard to prepare for on short notice, so Huggins often can make it to the second weekend if he gets by the first game. The Mountaineers have dropped off a bit in recent years but Huggins always finds a way to keep them in the mix in March.
Tom Izzo, Michigan State Spartans
NCAA Tournament record: 48-20
If you joined the Michigan State basketball program under Izzo and stayed for four years, you played in at least one Final Four. That’s how good the Hall of Fame coach is, getting to the last weekend of the tournament in three different decades. The Spartans haven’t always had high seeds in those brackets either but Izzo just seems to find a way to make the magic happen.
John Calipari, Kentucky Wildcats
NCAA Tournament record: 53-18
This one is a bit interesting, because Calipari might leave something to be desired on game day when it comes to strategy. However, he knows the name of the game in college hoops: the team with the best players wins. And Calipari usually gets the best recruits. He molds them well and eventually they turn a corner in almost every season. When Kentucky gets to the tournament, it usually finds a way to make some noise. After being shocked last year by No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s, Calipari will want to redeem himself this year.
Bill Self, Kansas Jayhawks
NCAA Tournament record: 47-19
Yes, Self has had some bad losses in the first weekend. The only reason many fans remember those losses is because he’s otherwise a regular in the Sweet 16 and beyond. The Hall of Famer had a health scare during the Big 12 tournament but should be back to defend his 2022 title.
Mark Few, Gonzaga Bulldogs
NCAA Tournament record: 28-19
Similar to Huggins, Few has routinely punched above his weight with a program that many would probably consider a blue blood despite it officially having mid-major status. Gonzaga is finally breaking through, with two national title game appearances in the last five tournaments after two decades of steadily building up the program.