- Robbi Pickeral, College Basketball
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Athlon recently took up the let-the-debate-begin task of ranking the best college basketball coaches currently in the game. Its choice: Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.
My colleague, ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf, chimed in with his own list, led by Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
So where does North Carolina’s Roy Williams fit in?
There’s no doubt Williams, who made his first Final Four appearance at Kansas in 1991 and has won two national titles in nine seasons at UNC, makes the top 10. But where in the top 10 depends on how you weigh everyone’s overall wins, versus ability to win with multiples one-and-done players, versus recent success, versus number of different programs taken to the Final Four, versus who has adapted best.
Athlon ranked Williams seventh, behind Izzo, Krzyzewski, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim and Louisville’s Rick Pitino. Its take:
7. Roy Williams, North Carolina
Overall record: 675-169 (61-20 in the NCAA Tournament)
Record at North Carolina: 257-68 (105-39 ACC)
Tobacco Road rival Krzyzewski has the overall series lead (15-11 and 12-10 since Williams landed in Chapel Hill), but Williams claimed four the last five outright ACC titles. Already an elite coach at Kansas from 1988-2003, Williams became a champion when he returned to North Carolina by winning the 2005 and 2009 titles. Williams-coached teams have missed the NCAA Tournament only twice in his career, his first year at Kansas and 2010 at North Carolina when the bulk of his title-winning roster went to the NBA. After back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, Williams again must restock after losing Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall and John Henson to the NBA.
Brennan, meanwhile, rated Williams higher, behind only Krzyzewski, Izzo and Calipari. His thoughts:
4. Roy Williams -- He has a pair of national titles (2005, 2009) and he signs nationally ranked recruiting classes each year. He made his first Final Four appearance in 1991. And North Carolina will enter this season as an ACC and national title contender more than 20 years later.
It’s all a subjective debate, of course, but what say you?
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.
57dJeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello