Caulton Tudor

Coach K closing in on another improbable win total

Posted March 16

What could qualify as the most remarkable accomplishment of Mike Krzyzewski’s already extraordinary coaching career can’t occur this season regardless of what Duke does in his 32nd NCAA Tournament, but he could get very close.

When the ACC champion Blue Devils (seeded 2nd in the East) begin the event Friday (7:20 pm, TBS TV) against Troy in Greenville, SC, Krzyzewski will be in search of his 91st NCAA tourney win.

If Duke can go on to win its sixth national championship since Krzyzewski’s arrival in 1980-81, he’ll have 96 NCAA tourney wins, meaning he would only need four more to crack the 100-win mark, which is a barrier that always has seemed impossible dating back to the beginning of the NCAA event in 1939.

But he is right there, close to crossing another bridge once deemed too far.

At age 70, Coach K might not get to 100-win mark, of course. It takes most above-average coaches in above-average programs at least three NCAAs just to get a 10-win total.

Here’s how Krzyzewski stacks up against some of the other all-time NCAA tourney big winners:

  • Mike Krzyzewski (90-27 - .769)
  • Roy Williams (70-24 - .745)
  • Dean Smith (65-27 - .707)
  • Jim Boeheim (57-31 - .648)
  • Rick Pitino (53-18 - .746)
  • Jim Calhoun (51-20 - .718)
  • John Calipari (48-16 - .750)
  • John Wooden (47-10 -.825)
  • Tom Izzo (46-18 - .719)
  • Lute Olson (46-28 - .622)
  • Bob Knight (45-25 - .643)
  • Denny Crum (42-23 - .646)
  • Bill Self (40-17 - .702)
  • John Thompson (34-19 - .642)
  • Adolph Rupp (30-18 - .625)

After Wake Forest’s First Four loss to Kansas State on Tuesday night in Dayton, the ACC’s eight remaining hopefuls began Thursday’s games with all-time collective 412-211 in NCAA tourney games.

At 19-7, seven ACC teams gave the league its highest ever single-season NCAA win total last season. That was after a 17-5 mark (six teams) in the 2015 event.

There has been at least one ACC national champion in each decade since the league was formed in 1953-54. That one miss was during the 1960s at the zenith of UCLA’s domination under John Wooden. Even so, the ACC finished the ‘60s with a 25-12 NCAA record.

In the 1990s, when Duke won two national titles and UNC added another, the league went 105-48 in the NCAA.

Although it’s widely believed that UNC’s Lennie Rosenbluth was selected most outstanding player of the 1957 Final Four, the award went to Wilt Chamberlain of Kansas.

The Tar Heels finished 32-0 and defeated Kansas in three overtimes for the championship, but the first ACC player to win the MOP award was Duke’s Art Heyman in 1963.

The Blue Devils didn’t win the title in 1963, either. They lost by 19 points to Loyola of Chicago in the semifinals and then beat Oregon State 85-63 in the consolation game. Heyman had 29 points and 12 rebounds against Loyola and 22 points and seven rebounds against Oregon State.

Here are the ACC’s Final Most Outstanding Player winners:

  • 1963 – Art Heyman, Duke
  • 1974 – David Thompson, NC State
  • 1982 – James Worthy, UNC
  • 1991 – Christian Laettner, Duke
  • 1992 – Bobby Hurley, Duke
  • 1993 – Donald Williams, UNC
  • 2001 – Shane Battier, Duke
  • 2002 – Juan Dixon, Maryland
  • 2005 – Sean May, UNC
  • 2009 – Wayne Ellington, UNC
  • 2010 – Kyle Singler, Duke
  • 2015 – Tyus Jones, Duke

In case you’re wondering about 1983, when State beat Houston in maybe the most memorable finish ever, the MOP award went to Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon.

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