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ACC Coaches Who Have Won It All

The list is growing longer

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NCAA Basketball: Duke at Virginia
 Feb 15, 2017; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett (L) shakes hands with Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski (R) prior to their game at John Paul Jones Arena. The Blue Devils won 65-55.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Programs win NCAA championships.

A coherent, self-sustaining, interlocked system of work and reward, of philosophies and values and habits, is apt to yield results that, if pursued diligently, produces consistent success. Then uncontrollable factors like seeding in the NCAA tournament field, the luck of the draw in opponents, and the bounce of the ball influence if not define the extent of that success.

Players also win championships.

By now it’s considered a minor rule of thumb that NCAA titles are won by squads that have some number of first-round NBA draft choices on the roster. This is a bit of a circular argument, as doing well on the game’s biggest stage tends to burnish a player’s stature regardless of the many hours NBA clubs devote to scouting throughout the season and the sober analytic tools brought to bear to measure prospects.

Virginia, in one post-title draft prospectus, had three first-rounders in winning the 2019 title: De’Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. All have eligibility remaining, yet are expected to leave now while their perceived value is highest.

Arguments also can be made for the importance of others in securing an NCAA basketball title, mainly an athletic director who chooses or at least supports the right coach and gives him or her the resources necessary to prosper.

But key to the enterprise is the coaching staff and especially the head coach, the organizer, leader, assembler of bench and floor talent, tone setter, public face, program sustainer.

With Virginia’s overtime victory eons ago – last Monday, to be exact -- ACC teams have now won 15 NCAA championships in 66 seasons (about 23 percent) since 1954. That’s been accomplished by eight different coaches, with three securing multiple titles -- Dean Smith (2), Mike Krzyzewski (5) and Roy Williams (3).

Tony Bennett is among the six ACC coaches who got their initial championship with players they recruited and trained. The exceptions were NC State’s Jim Valvano and UNC’s Roy Williams, who inherited the core group that captured their first title.

The average, and median, number of seasons to liftoff by the eight transcendentally successful ACC coaches at their respective schools was 9.

Since 1991, when Mike Krzyzewski got his first NCAA banner, ACC clubs have won at a rate of about once every three years. The majority (8) of ACC titles were won in this century, an average of 40 percent of the seasons since 2001. Four of 10 (40 percent) were secured in the past decade.

ACC Coaches Who Won NCAA Titles
Coach Title(s) School Years To First Title
Frank McGuire 1957 UNC 5, started 1950
Norm Sloan 1974 NC State 8, started 1967
Dean Smith 1982, 1993 UNC 21, started 1962
Jim Valvano 1983 NC State 3, started 1981
Mike Krzyzewski 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015 Duke 11, started 1981
Gary Williams 2002 Maryland 13, started 1990
Roy Williams 2005, 2009, 2017 UNC 2, started 2004
Tony Bennett 2019 Virginia 10, started 2010

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