Final Four Previews: Ranking the head coaches

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With the Final Four just two days away we’ll be taking a look at different aspects of the match-ups, one of which being a ranking for the four head coaches.¬†With two Hall of Famers who have won national titles in one game, and two coaches who have never reached the title game in the other, that makes for interesting subplots in Saturday’s games. Without further ado, here’s the ranking of the four Final Four head coaches.

1. Roy Williams, North Carolina
Overall Record: 782-208
NCAA tournament record: 66-23; seven Final Four appearances, two national titles (2005, 2009)

Williams is one of two members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame who will coach in this weekend’s Final Four, with the other being his semifinal opponent in Jim Boeheim. Williams has led two of the sport’s most storied programs and enjoyed a great deal of success at both, winning 80.5 percent of his games and making three Final Four appearances at Kansas before returning to his alma mater in 2003.

At North Carolina, Williams’ teams have won 77.3 percent of their games, and he led the Tar Heels to national titles in 2005 and 2009. Williams has now led North Carolina to four Final Four appearances, with this year’s trip being the first for the program since 2009. In both 2005 and 2009 the Tar Heels were the favorites at the Final Four, and that will be the case this weekend as well. Can this group win it all? That remains to be seen.

2. Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
Overall record: 989-346 (not accounting for games vacated by the NCAA)
NCAA tournament record: 53-30; five Final Four appearances, one national title (2003)

Boeheim and Williams, his opponent in the semifinals, have met in a Final Four before. That came back in 2003, when a Hakim Warrick blocked shot preserved the win for Syracuse over Kansas and gave the Orange their first (and only) national title. Boeheim’s led his alma mater to five Final Four appearances, and he’s reached the title game in three of the previous four trips.

Syracuse dropped a heartbreaker to Indiana in the 1987 title game, and nine years later they fell to a Kentucky team that would reach the title game in three straight years (winning in 1996 and 1998). Of the four prior teams Boeheim’s led to the Final Four none had been seeded lower than a four, so this group is a definite outlier given their status as a No. 10 seed.

3. Lon Kruger, Oklahoma
Overall record: 590-360
NCAA tournament record: 20-16; two Final Four appearances

It’s been 22 years since Kruger last led a team to the Final Four, doing so at Florida with a team that included Andrew DeClerq and Dametri Hill. Kruger’s the lone head coach to lead five different teams to the NCAA tournament, with Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV being the other four. After losing in the round of 64 in each of his first two appearances at Oklahoma, Kruger’s Sooners reached the Sweet 16 last season where the lost to Michigan State.

In addition to taking the five aforementioned schools to the NCAA tournament, Kruger’s managed to take each one to at least the Sweet 16. With guards Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard leading the way, Kruger will look to make his first-ever appearance in the national title game.

4. Jay Wright, Villanova
Overall record: 474-242
NCAA tournament record: 18-12; two Final Four appearances

After missing the NCAA tournament in each of his first three seasons at the helm at Villanova, Wright’s led the Wildcats to the Big Dance in 11 of the last 12 seasons. Add in two NCAA tournament appearances while the head coach at Hofstra (2000 and 2001), and Wright has a total of 13 trips to the tournament to his credit. From 2005-2009 Villanova reached at least the second weekend of the NCAA tournament in four of the five seasons, which included a trip to the Final Four in 2009.

After that run Villanova hit a bit of a cold stretch, not getting out of the first weekend in any of their five appearances from 2010 to 2015 and missing the tournament completely in 2012. Wright and the Wildcats got over the hump this year, and Las Vegas odds have them second in line behind North Carolina when it comes to their chances of winning the national title.