Ranking the Top 20 College Basketball Coaches For 2023-24


Aug 23, 2023

Despite the departure of greats Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, and Jim Boeheim from college basketball in recent years, plenty of all-time head coaches remain across the sport. From Bill Self to Randy Bennett, we rank the 20 best active head coaches in college hoops based on coaching ability, recruitment, and resume.

1. Bill Self – Kansas (Record: 787-237; Last Season: 24-8)

It’s hard to make a case against Self as the top active coach in college hoops, especially after taking home his second national title in 2022. He now has two rings with four Final Fours, 14 Sweet Sixteens, 24 NCAA Tournament appearances, and a whopping 17 regular-season Big 12 titles.

2. Tom Izzo – Michigan State (Record: 687-280; Last Season: 21-13)

There’s January, February, Izzo, and then there’s March Izzo. The Michigan State head coach has the active field lapped in Final Fours with eight, three more than Rick Pitino, who has the second-most among active head coaches. He has built an empire in East Lansing, and something tells us he’s got another Final Four or two up his sleeve before he says goodbye to his coaching career.

3. John Calipari – Kentucky (Record: 832-253; Last Season: 22-12)

Although it’s been a tough past few seasons for Kentucky, it’s undeniable how talented head coach John Calipari is. He is the undisputed king at producing NBA talent, with 47 players drafted into the association since taking over at Kentucky in 2009. The fans are understandably hungry for success in Lexington, but Calipari’s resume and ability to produce elite next-level talent cements him into the third spot on this list.

4. Mark Few – Gonzaga (Record: 689-135; Last Season: 31-6)

Few has brought Gonzaga to the national spotlight it has never had. The Bulldogs seem never to have a down year, which is all to blame on Few’s elite recruiting and pure domination over the West Coast Conference. The only thing missing from the coach’s resume is a national title, and it may not be long until he finally gets his wish.

5. Scott Drew – Baylor (Record: 442-244; Last Season: 23-11)

The turnaround that Scott Drew has pulled off at Baylor is among the best in college sports. Taking over the program following the Dave Bliss scandal two decades ago, Drew has brought the Bears to the top by winning a national championship in 2021 after knocking off the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs in the national championship. He has risen the school from its ruins and will surely keep them relevant for the foreseeable future.

6. Rick Pitino – St. John’s (Record: 711-290; Last Season: 27-8)

With controversy and scandals mixed in between, Pitino has brought relevance to whichever program has brought him in. Whether it was his first national title at Kentucky, his dominant time spent with Louisville, or his ownership of the MAAC with Iona, he has brought success wherever he goes. The Big East better watch out for Pitino and St. John’s because we refuse to bet against his coaching prowess.

7. Kelvin Sampson – Houston (Record: 657-301; Last Season: 33-4)

Kelvin Sampson’s career resurgence in the past decade has been one of college basketball’s coolest stories. With the fourth-longest gap between Final Four appearances at 19 years, he has continued to build Houston into one of the most feared programs in the nation. His Elite Eight appearance in 2022, despite the losses of Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark, was the latest feather in his coaching cap. 

8. Tony Bennett – Virginia (Record: 410-158; Last Season: 25-8)

Many questions were asked of Bennett’s coaching philosophies after Virginia’s disastrous first-round crash out of the NCAA Tournament at the hands of #16 UMBC back in 2018. All the Cavaliers did a year later was shut down the doubters with a thrilling run to the program’s first-ever national championship. Bennett’s Virginia teams may not always be ranked among the elites, but the floor is always high in Charlottesville.

9. Eric Musselman – Arkansas (Record: 205-76; Last Season: 22-14)

Musselman is the guy you can never count out. He is a mastermind at pulling off upsets later into the NCAA Tournament, most notably against Kansas this past season, where Musselman got his team to play to its ceiling when they needed to.

10. Dana Altman – Oregon (Record: 321-140; Last Season: 21-15)

It’s been a down couple of seasons in Eugene for Dana Altman, but we believe Oregon will be back soon enough. Altman’s five-year run of dominance over the Pac-12 from 2016 to 2021 will be well-documented by scientists for eons, and any coach you ask will be quick to let you know that he is one of the sport’s elite minds.

11. Bruce Pearl – Auburn (Record: 418-210; Last Season: 21-13)

Pearl has brought relevancy back to Auburn since taking over in 2014, leading the Tigers to a Final Four in 2019. He’s had them playing to their potential as well, peaking at 11th or higher in the AP Top 25 poll in five of the past six seasons. It’s safe to say the Tigers will remain a relevant power within the SEC as long as Pearl is pacing the sidelines.

12. Mick Cronin (Record: 464-207; Last Season: 31-6)

Cronin’s move to UCLA couldn’t have worked out better for both coach and program. His no-nonsense demeanor does well to appease the Bruin faithful, and it’s brought success to the west coast. He has led the program to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past three seasons and a dream Final Four run back in 2021.

13. Chris Beard (Record: 171-73; Last Season: 7-1 (Fired))

Beard makes the list despite his recent controversy after being let go by Texas due to a domestic violence incident that has since been dismissed. He will return to the sidelines next season with Ole Miss and after completely turning Texas Tech around and leading the Red Raiders to a national title game.

14. Matt Painter (Record: 438-203; Last Season: 29-6)

There is plenty of room for criticism for Matt Painter following a string of disappointing NCAA Tournament showings, but he’s certainly got it figured out throughout the regular season. Purdue has had them as the top-ranked team in the nation for two consecutive seasons and has not had a losing record in nine years.

15. Leonard Hamilton (Record: 626-475; Last Season: 9-23)

While Florida State hasn’t been in the national spotlight for a few years, Hamilton remains one of the top head coaches in the country. He has had the Seminoles ranked within the AP Top 25 in six of the past seven seasons, while leading them to the second weekend at the NCAA Tournament in three of those years.

16. Rick Barnes (Record: 779-406; Last Season: 25-11)

Barnes fits a similar mold as Painter: a regular-season workhorse whose coaching principles see some questioning after multiple seasons with little postseason success. While he boasts a stout defense and a program that rarely has down years, a Final Four appearance is long overdue for Barnes in Knoxville.

17. Ed Cooley (Record: 334-222; Last Season: 21-12)

Cooley got as much as anyone else could have gotten from a job like Providence. After bringing the Friars as far as he could, it felt right for Cooley to take on a bigger job where he could take that next step. Enter Georgetown. A sleeping giant in the world of college basketball that is desperate for a leader like Cooley to bring them back to their glory days.

18. Tommy Lloyd (Record: 61-11; Last Season: 28-7)

Lloyd has Arizona well ahead of schedule compared to what their fans were expecting following the departure of Sean Miller in 2021. He combined for 61 wins across his first two seasons in Tucson and has done well to maintain most of the talent. But if the Wildcats see another early NCAA Tournament exit like the past two seasons, the whispers could turn to screams quickly for Lloyd.

19. Brad Underwood (Record: 223-106; Last Season: 20-13)

It did not take long for Brad Underwood to burst onto the scene after dominating at Stephen F. Austin for three seasons. A quick stint at Oklahoma State eventually led to a gig at Illinois, where he has regularly kept Illinois within the upper echelon of the Big Ten. All that alludes his resumé is a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and it feels like it’s only a matter of time.

20. Randy Bennett (Record: 507-208; Last Season: 27-8)

Bennett is the epitome of consistency in mid-major college hoops. While most programs like Saint Mary’s see success once every few years once their rosters get older and more experiences, the Gaels are always competitive. Bennett’s signature Australian recruiting trail, combined with an impeccable offensive design, has wreaked havoc in the WCC for well over a decade.

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Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

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