We’re in the midst of two tight divisional races in the football world, so SEC basketball season might seem like a telemarketer who won’t stop calling. But — ready or not — roundball tips off Friday, and we’re here to get you dialed in.
You already know Kentucky reloaded with a bunch of superstar recruits and is one of the country’s highest-ranked programs. (In fact, the Wildcats are the only ranked SEC team.)
What you might not know is John Calipari is one of three SEC coaches who has reached the Final Four, and “Coach Cal” has made five fewer NCAA tournament appearances than one of his contemporaries: Tennessee coach Rick Barnes.
Calipari, Barnes and Mississippi State’s Ben Howland headline a strong coaching class that also includes a former NBA Coach of the Year (Alabama’s Avery Johnson), a coach with double-digit NCAA tournament wins (Auburn’s Bruce Pearl) and a coach whose career winning percentage is higher than Bob Huggins’ (Vanderbilt’s Bryce Drew, who spent five years at Valparaiso before arriving in Nashville this offseason … a bit of a stretch, but it’s technically true, so let’s stay glass-half-full here).
In order to get an idea of where this group fits into the national picture, SEC Country broke down the career numbers of all 86 major-conference coaches.
Here’s a quick look at the SEC (right click to enlarge):
How do they compare? Here are the takeaways:
(Note: Data does not account for vacated wins or NCAA tournament appearances)
- SEC coaches have the second-most career wins (3,800) of the seven major conferences, but they’re still well behind the incredible ACC group (7,075), which includes Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Louisville’s Rick Pitino, all four of whom are at the top of the active coaching wins list.
- The SEC group is third with a .647 winning percentage, behind the Big 12 (.691) and ACC (.677).
- Calipari is clearly the star of the SEC group. He’s fourth among active major-conference coaches with a .780 winning percentage (and second among those who have coached more than 103 games), fifth with 48 tournament wins and fifth with six Final Four appearances (though 2 of those Final Four appearances were vacated because of NCAA rulings).
- Tennessee’s Barnes, who took Texas to the Final Four in 2003, is seventh on the list with 618 wins, tied for fourth with 22 tournament appearances and 11th with 21 tourney wins.
- Mississippi State’s Howland reeled in an elite recruiting class (including five players in 247Sports.com’s Top 100) thanks in part to his resumé. He took UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours between 2006-2008, and ranks seventh among active coaches with that trio of national semifinal appearances.
- Among coaches who have not won an NCAA tournament game, LSU’s Johnny Jones has coached the second-most career games (498). At least he’s reached the tourney, though; East Carolina’s Jeff Lebo has coached 566 career games without making the Big Dance once.
- The SEC group is very similar to the Big 12 group. Career games (SEC: 5,873 vs. Big 12: 5,642), tournament appearances (tied at 83), tournament wins (Big 12: 124, SEC: 119) and Final Four appearances (Big 12: 11, SEC: 10) are all tightly contested. The SEC has a clear edge in total victories (3,800 vs. 3,497) and winning percentage (.647 vs. .620).
- All 15 ACC coaches, all 10 Big 12 coaches and all 12 Pac-12 coaches have made at least one national tournament appearance. The SEC’s Kim Anderson (Missouri), Mike White (Florida) and Avery Johnson (Alabama) have yet to reach the Big Dance.
- ACC coaches have overseen a total of 10,448 total games (next closest: SEC at 5,873). Six of the conference’s coaches rank in the top 9 in that category, among major-conference coaches.
- To give you a better idea of Coach K’s dominance: Krzyzewski has won five national titles, tied with all the other ACC coaches combined, and more than any other conference’s combined total. He has 90 total tournament wins, just 29 short of the SEC’s combined total and ahead of the Pac-12, AAC and Big East.
- There’s only one coach of the 86 who has never coached a Division I basketball game: Tulane’s Mike Dunleavy Sr., who was named the 1999 NBA Coach of the Year after guiding the Portland Trail Blazers to a 35-15 record during a strike-shortened season.
You can access all of the data here, and check out the SEC’s opening-night basketball schedule below (for Friday, Nov. 11 … all times ET):
- 6:30 p.m.: Louisiana Tech at South Carolina (SEC Network +)
- 6:30 p.m.: Vanderbilt vs. Marquette (CBS Sports Network)
- 7 p.m.: Stephen F. Austin at No. 2 Kentucky (SEC Network)
- 7 p.m.: Tennessee-Martin at Ole Miss (SEC Network +)
- 7 p.m.: Chattanooga at Tennessee (SEC Network +)
- 7 p.m.: Georgia at Clemson (ACC Network Extra)
- 7:30 p.m.: Florida Gulf Coast vs. Florida (SEC Network +)
- 8 p.m.: IPFW at Arkansas (SEC Network +)
- 8 p.m.: Norfolk State at Mississippi State (SEC Network +)
- 9 p.m.: Coastal Carolina at Alabama (SEC Network +)
- 9 p.m.: Northwestern State at Texas A&M (SEC Network)
- 9:30 p.m.: North Florida at Auburn (SEC Network +)