This achievement could easily get past us. We shouldn’t let it.
As we’ve written previously, winning 20 games in a season isn’t as significant as it was when schedules included fewer outings. Still, it’s worth noting that by February’s end six ACC squads had won at least 20 contests. The most recent to cross that line – still ahead of more proven, winning coaches at Syracuse and Louisville – was Kevin Keatts at NC State.
Even more impressive than the fact Keatts hit the 20-victory mark in 2019 is that it’s the second year he’s done it and only his second season in the ACC. Such a start is far less common that you might suppose.
None of the three Hall of Fame coaches active in the ACC – Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim -- started with consecutive 20-win seasons. In fact, despite extensively revamping his roster this year, Keatts became just the 11th coach in ACC history to launch his league career with consecutive 20-win seasons. Of that exclusive group, only Miami’s Jim Larranaga is actively coaching in the conference.
Florida State’s Pat Kennedy posted a pair of 20-victory seasons immediately upon the program entering the ACC, buoyed by less rigorous academic standards under which he’d recruited as a Metro Conference member.
UNC’s Bill Guthridge, Dean Smith’s longtime assistant, hit the 20-win plateau in each of his three seasons at the Tar Heel helm.
Rick Pitino’s squads won 20 or more in his three ACC seasons after Louisville joined during a 2015 expansion, replacing Maryland, only to be fired after the ’17 season.
NC State is the only school that had more than one coach debut with consecutive 20-victory efforts: Everett Case, Mark Gottfried and Keatts.
(Consecutive 20-Win Seasons To Start ACC Coaching Career,
Listed By First ACC Season Had At Least 20 Wins)
|Coach||School||Opening 20 Wins||Subsequent 20 Wins|
|Harold Bradley||Duke||22-6 in 1954||1955|
|Everett Case||NC State||28-7 in 1954||1955, 1956|
|Jeff Jones||Virginia||21-12 in 1991||1992, 1993|
|Pat Kennedy||Florida St.||22-10 in 1992||1993|
|Bill Guthridge||UNC||34-4 in 1998||1999, 2000|
|Skip Prosser||Wake||21-13 in 2002||2003, 2004 2005|
|Al Skinner||Boston College||28-8 in 2006||2007|
|Mark Gottfried||NC State||24-13 in 2012||2013, 2014, 2015|
|Jim Larranaga||Miami||20-13 in 2012||2013|
|Rick Pitino||Louisville||27-9 in 2015||2016, 2017|
|Kevin Keatts||NC State||21-12 in 2018||2019|