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Andy Wittry | | August 11, 2021

8 men's college basketball coaches who could be the next to reach 800 wins

The 9 active coaches who won the NCAA tournament as players

Just 10 men's college basketball head coaches have compiled at least 800 wins in their career, led by Duke's Mike Krzyzewski at 1,170 victories entering the 2021-22 season – Krzyzewski's last at Duke. Coach K is one of four active coaches who have reached the exclusive club, along with Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, West Virginia's Bob Huggins and Coastal Carolina's Cliff Ellis, who finished the 2021 season with exactly 800 wins.

The six former head coaches who have cracked the 800-win mark have all been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame — Roy Williams, Bob Knight, Dean Smith, Jim Calhoun, Adolph Rupp and Eddie Sutton — so the wins milestone is synonymous with a Hall-of-Fame career.

There are a few active coaches in men's college basketball who are within shouting distance of 800 career wins, and two national title-winning coaches could join the club during the 2021-22 season.

Here are eight coaches who have some of the strongest cases of being one of the next coaches to reach 800 wins in their career.

Mark Zerof | USA TODAY Sports Images Kentucky's John Calipari.

1. John Calipari, Kentucky

Current win total (entering 2021-22 season): 784 wins

Calipari enters the 2021-22 campaign ranked 12th all-time in career wins with 784, which means he's just 16 away from 800. If Kentucky has a strong season after last season's 9-16 record, Calipari could reach the mark this season, potentially in the heart of SEC play.

Prior to the 2020-21 season, Calipari's Kentucky teams have averaged exactly 30 wins per season, which means Calipari could reach the 800-win mark with ease this season.

Scott Utterback | USA TODAY Sports Images Iona's Rick Pitino.

2. Rick Pitino, Iona

Current win total (entering 2021-22 season): 782 wins

Pitino is coaching his sixth Division I program as he enters his second season at Iona. The Gaels went 12-6 last season and made the NCAA tournament after winning the MAAC tournament. They fell to No. 2 seed Alabama by 13 in the first round.

A strong 2022 campaign for Iona, however, could set up Pitino to reach 800 wins in the spring.

Jay Biggerstaff | USA Today Sports Images Kansas's Bill Self.

3. Bill Self, Kansas

Current win total (entering 2021-22 season): 729 wins

Self is 71 wins shy of 800, and that's a total that he could reach early in the 2023-24 season. Kansas won 100 games from the 2009-10 season through the 2011-12 season, 97 games from the 2006-07 season through the 2008-09 season, and 95 games from the 2015-16 campaign to 2017-18, so at Kansas' best, it's a program that can consistently win 30-plus games.

In 18 seasons in Lawrence, Kansas, Self's Jayhawks teams have averaged 29 wins per season, and Kansas has won at least 30 games in half of those seasons, so he's roughly two and a third seasons away from the milestone.

Randy Sartin | USA TODAY Sports Images Tennessee's Rick Barnes.

4. Rick Barnes, Tennessee

Current win total (entering 2021-22 season): 727 wins

Did you know that in Rick Barnes's 34-year head coaching career, his highest two-year win total came in 2018 and 2019? His Volunteers won 57 games in those two seasons — 26 in '18, then 31 in 2019 — and even though Tennessee took a step back in 2020 with a 17-14 record, the Vols won more games (18) in 2021, despite the abbreviated season.

Prior to last season, Barnes' teams have averaged 21.5 wins per season, which is roughly in line with the Volunteers' average win total through six seasons with Barnes at the helm. At that rate, which once again, could be much higher than that average given some of the talent Tennessee has enrolled, Barnes could reach 800 wins in four or five seasons, should he continue coaching into his seventies.

Soobum Im | USA TODAY Sports Image Oregon's Dana Altman.

5. Dana Altman, Oregon

Current win total (entering 2021-22 season): 690 wins

Dana Altman needs 110 wins to reach 800 career victories, and with a career average of roughly 21.5 wins per season as a DI head coach, Altman is roughly fvie seasons away from reaching 800 wins, if Oregon maintains Altman's career average. It's fair to expect that he could reach the milestone even sooner than that, however.

The Ducks have reached or eclipsed 21 wins in each of the last 11 seasons under Altman, including a combined 64 wins in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

For Altman to reach 800 wins in the next four seasons, that would require the Ducks to average 27.5 wins per season. In the six seasons prior to 2021, Oregon averaged 27 wins per season, so keep an eye on the 2025 season as when Altman could potentially reach the 800-win mark.

Mike Carter | USA TODAY Sports Images Michigan State's Tom Izzo.

6. Tom Izzo

Current win total (entering 2021-22 season): 643 wins

If Izzo reaches 800 career wins, he would go in a special class of the elite as one of the few coaches to win that many games at the same school, joining the likes of Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, North Carolina's Dean Smith and Kentucky's Adolph Rupp. There could actually be an interesting race between Izzo, Gonzaga's Mark Few and Villanova's Jay Wright.

Few is 13 wins behind Izzo and he's coming off of a 2021 season in which Gonzaga went 31-1. Wright is 18 wins behind Few and his Wildcats have won two of the last five national championships.

At Michigan State, Izzo's teams have averaged just more than 25 wins per season, prior to the 2021 season. At a pace of 25 wins per season, Izzo would reach 800 wins in just more than six seasons.

Michigan State has posted five seasons with at least 30 wins under Izzo, including back-to-back 30-win seasons in 2018 and 2019. Michigan State has made the last 23 NCAA tournaments under Izzo – a streak that was in jeopardy last season before the Spartans made it as a No. 11 seed that appeared in the First Four – and he has a 52-22 record in the tournament — an average of more than two wins per tournament appearance.

James Snook | USA TODAY Sports Images Gonzaga's Mark Few.

7. Mark Few

Current win total (entering 2021-22 season): 630 wins

At Gonzaga, Few's teams have averaged a ridiculous 28.6 wins per season, which would put him roughly six seasons away from 800 career wins if the 'Zags maintain that pace, or even improve upon it. However, it would likely take less time than that. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, Gonzaga has won at least 28 games in every season, including seven seasons with at least 31 wins.

You can typically pencil in Gonzaga to have single-digit losses (as they've had in 20 of Few's 22 seasons as head coach) and you could count the number of losses the Bulldogs have had in any one of the last five seasons on one hand.

If Gonzaga wins, say, 32 games per year on average, as the Bulldogs have averaged the last nine seasons, Few could reach 800 wins around December of the 2026-27 season. Few's Gonzaga program has reached No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll in four of the last fvie seasons, so he and his players have elevated the 'Zags to among the nation's elite and they're the class of the West Coast Conference, allowing Few and Gonzaga to rack up wins at an incredible rate.

Matt Marton | USA TODAY Sports Images Villanova's Jay Wright.

8. Jay Wright

Current win total (entering 2021-22 season): 612 wins

Villanova's stretch from 2015 through 2018 was about as impressive of a run as we've seen in the modern era of college basketball. The Wildcats won two national championships, averaged 34 wins per season and finished in the top six of the AP poll in each season, including three top-two finishes.

That's a hard pace to maintain, but when Wright's Wildcats are rolling, there are few, if any, programs this side of Gonzaga that can match their winning percentage.

Prior to the abbreviated 2021 season, when the Wildcats also dealt with a season-ending injury to co-Big East Player of  the Year Collin Gillespie, Villanova has averaged 24.8 wins per season under Wright. But the program has reached an even higher level since the mid-2010s, when the Wildcats have won 24 or more games every season from 2014 to 2020 and averaged nearly 31 wins per year, despite the 2020 Big East tournament and 2020 NCAA tournament getting canceled.

If Villanova continues winning roughly 30 games per season, Wright could reach 800 career wins early in the 2027-28 season.

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