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NCAA Tournament: Top coaches still dancing entering Sweet Sixteen

A trio of Hall of Famers could find even more success in what already has been a wild month of college basketball.

Mike Krzyzewski has won five national titles. All

Mike Krzyzewski has won five national titles. All the other Sweet Sixteen coaches have combined for four. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Rob Carr

If the past week of NCAA Tournament craziness has reminded college hoops fans of anything, it’s that there are no sure things.

That said, with the tournament field whittled down to 16 teams before play resumes Thursday, some of the nation’s top coaches could be a source of stability. Here’s a look at the top remaining coaches — all Hall of Famers — and the schools which they could lead to the Final Four next weekend.

Mike Krzyzewski

Coach K is peerless in this Sweet Sixteen field. His five national championships with Duke are one more than the other 15 coaches combined. He has more wins than anyone else in Division I history. Plus, he might have the best player left in the tournament: freshman forward Marvin Bagley III.

With 12 Final Four berths at the helm of the Blue Devils, Krzyzewski is the safest bet to still be vying for a title in San Antonio. To get there, the No. 2 seeds must oust No. 11 Syracuse Friday night in Omaha and top the winner of No. 1 Kansas and No. 5 Clemson.

John Calipari

Not only has Calipari survived in the one-and-done era of men’s basketball, he’s thrived. Dating back to the 2006 Big Dance, his teams at Memphis and current kingdom Kentucky have reached the Elite Eight in eight of 12 tournaments. That includes five Final Fours, three title games and one championship with the Wildcats.

On paper, no team will face an easier path than Kentucky, who cannot play a team seeded higher than seventh in Atlanta this weekend. The fifth-seeded Wildcats are in action Thursday night against No. 9 Kansas State. With a victory, they’ll need to get through No. 7 Nevada or No. 11 Loyola-Chicago.

Jim Boeheim

Of the 16 coaches remaining only this Syracuse lifer can say he helmed tournament games in the 1970s. Boeheim is making his 12th appearance in the Sweet Sixteen, 42 years into his tenure with the school. In that time, the program has reached the national title game in three different decades, and the Orange will look to make it four this year.

Still, Syracuse path is daunting. They needed to win a First Four game just to get into the Round of 64, and they will be certified underdogs against Duke. But, hey, this March has been dominated by the “little guy.”


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