The Atlantic Coastal Conference proved this NCAA tournament that it is the best conference in the land. Duke’s young but talented team won the NCAA championship game, and the conference as a whole had the best overall record (17-5) in the tournament. At season’s end, these teams wouldn’t be where they were without their coaches. On the other hand, other teams could have used a coaching change in retrospect after disappointing seasons. Here are the end-of-season head coach rankings for the ACC.
15. Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech (11-22)– When you go 2-16 in conference, in any conference, you should be fired or on the hot seat.
14. Jim Christian, Boston College (13-19)– Christian and the Golden Eagles finished their season with a nice little win streak. Olivier Hanlan was the lone bright spot for Boston College. Hopefully year two will fare well for Christian, or he might find himself looking for another job.
13. Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech (12-19)– Fourteen of the Yellow Jackets losses were decided by six points or fewer. With just a little luck, this team could have been postseason bound. One more year of a below .500 and Gregory will most definitely get fired.
12. Brad Brownell, Clemson (16-15)– This year’s team won the games they were supposed to. Nothing too exciting, but Brownell’s Tigers have progressively dipped in performance in each of his five years.
11. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse (18-13)– When you are as legendary of a coach as Jim Boeheim, you shouldn’t be out of the top 10. NCAA violations and a team full of talent not living up to expectations will lower your rank. Rakeem Christmas lost his chance to shine in the tournament for something he didn’t do. Shame on the university.
10. Danny Manning, Wake Forest (13-18)– Manning breaks the top 10 for utilizing the talent he had during his first year in Winston Salem. He is bringing in point guard Bryant Crawford, center Doral Moore and power forward John Collins, all four-star recruits.
9. Jaime Dixon, Pittsburgh (19-15)– If it weren’t for a horrid finish to the season, the Panthers would have made an appearance in the NCAA tournament. Wins over Notre Dame and North Carolina were fantastic for Jaime Dixon’s resume. Losses to Hawaii and Virginia Tech? Not so much.
8. Leonard Hamilton, Florida State (17-16)– Ever since making the switch from Miami in 2002, Hamilton’s Noles have been below .500 just twice. He is so high on this list due to his incredible recruiting class coming in. Read up on it in Andrew Beverley’s article here.
7. Jim Larrañaga, Miami (25-13)– For what it’s worth, Miami was three points away from winning the NIT Tournament. Miami exceeded expectations, beating Duke at home by 16 and barely missing out on Selection Sunday.
6. Roy Williams, North Carolina (26-12)– UNC didn’t have the superstar player that Duke had in Okafor, but Williams got the most out of his players this year.
5. Mark Gotfried, North Carolina State (22-14)– Wow. Colin Sylvester called this one. No one expected NC State to make it to upset No. 1 seed Villanova and advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
4. Rick Pitino, Louisville (27-9)– Even with Chris Jones being dismissed, Pitino rallied his troops all the way to the Elite Eight where the Cards lost in overtime to Michigan State 76-70. Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rosier have declared for the NBA Draft, so the state of Louisville is bleak as of right now.
3. Tony Bennett, Virginia (30-4)– Some would say that Bennett has done the most with what he has, and I have to disagree. Losing to Michigan State in the second round isn’t the team I saw during the regular season.
2. Mike Brey, Notre Dame (32-6)– Brey coached a masterful game against Kentucky in the best college basketball game of the year. Near perfect was not enough, but the Irish accomplished everything and more than they could have hoped for in the early goings of the season. Winning the ACC tournament and making it to the Elite Eight pushes Mike Brey over Tony Bennett.
1. Mike Krzyzewski, Duke (35-4)– An NCAA Championship to cap off a fantastic season pretty much locks him in as the best coach in the ACC. Congrats to the Blue Devils on a season to remember.