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Winning In The ACC

Some coaches are better at it than others

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North Carolina v Duke
DURHAM, NC - MARCH 03: (L-R) Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils talks to head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels before their game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 3, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Coaches come and go, win and lose. The best get to retire on their own terms.

Meanwhile, even when their wins are reported, they’re commonly rendered only as totals without the further context of how long it took to get there and how their rate of success compares with competitors.

To this point, and probably through the lifetimes of most of us watching ACC action today, Mike Krzyzewski is the reigning ACC victory champion, with 62 more than UNC’s deceased Dean Smith, and counting. His career league win total is more than double his next-nearest competitor, UNC’s Roy Williams.

But add Smith and Williams, his protégé, and that’s 627 and counting. If you want to keep going along those lines, throw in Frank McGuire, for whom Smith worked, and you have direct lineage linked to 787 ACC victories.

That’s a bit of a stretch, although interesting. More interesting is that four of the top 10 in career wins in conference play are active, and that the top five overall are members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

So is Lefty Driesell, who arguably did less at Maryland in building that program than did Bobby Cremins at Georgia Tech. Cremins had more league wins, took a team to the Final Four in 1990, a feat Driesell never matched, and won three ACC championships (1985, 1990, 1993) compared to Driesell’s one (1984).

Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton could catch Cremins this season in ACC career wins in two fewer seasons (17) to move into sixth all-time.

And Virginia’s Tony Bennett should surpass Duke’s Vic Bubas, who averaged more wins over the same number of seasons (10). Of course Bubas competed in a conference with fewer teams (8) and fewer league games per year (14) compared to 15 and 18, respectively, for Bennett.

As for most victories per season, UNC’s Roy Williams is the clear leader (13.4), followed by Bubas, Bennett and Krzyzewski.

Most Wins In ACC Competition, Regular Season and Tournament
(Asterisk Indicates Active Coach, Games Through Feb. 16, 2019)
Coach School Wins Years Avg ACC W
Mike Krzyzewski* Duke 485 39 12.39
Dean Smith North Carolina 422 36 11.72
Roy Williams* North Carolina 215 16 13.44
Gary Williams Maryland 210 22 9.55
Frank McGuire UNC & USC 160 15 10.67
Bobby Cremins Georgia Tech 149 19 7.84
Leonard Hamilton* Florida State 144 17 8.41
Charles "Lefty" Driesell Maryland 139 17 8.00
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