Is Tom Izzo the best college basketball coach in America?

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With Saturday’s 60-54 win over No. 2 seeded Virginia, Tom Izzo once again showed why he is considered to be one of the better coaches in America. The question is whether or not he is the best.

Program changer

Assuming you haven’t had your head in a hole for the past 18 years, you realize Tom Izzo has done for Michigan State what very few coaches have done for their programs in the history of college basketball.

Before Izzo took over in 1995 as the head coach, Michigan State had appeared in a total of 11 NCAA tournaments in school history. Since then he has led the Spartans to 13 Sweet Sixteen appearances, eight Elite Eights, six Final Fours, and 1 National Championship.

He has taken a program that was pretty average to a program that’s considered one of the best in college basketball. When you think of Michigan State basketball, you think of toughness and maximum effort and that is because of what Izzo has instilled in his players.

More with less

When determining who is a better coach, it is important to look at what each coach has squeezed out of the talent he has. Since taking over the reins at Michigan State, Izzo has signed a total of 11 McDonald’s All-Americans. There is no doubt that he has been able to get talent, but compared to some of the other top coaches, he gets far less.

In comparison, Dukes Mike Krzyzewski has signed 42 McDonald’s All-Americans in the same time frame, and has gone to four Final Fours compared to Izzo’s six. Krzyzewski is without a doubt one of the best coaches ever to walk the sideline on a basketball court, but with the talent that he gets he should be.

Another coach that should be taken into consideration is John Calipari. Though Calipari has only been at Kentucky since 2009, he has signed 20 McDonald’s All-Americans. This means that he has almost twice as many as Izzo in about a third of the time. How hard is it to win when you have NBA talent up and down your roster?

Okay, what about Roy Williams? Once again, there is no question that he is one of the greatest coaches of all-time, but he is bringing in McDonald’s All-Americans right and left. Since leaving Kansas to coach North Carolina in 2003 Williams has brought in 25 McDonald’s All-Americans, over double what Izzo has signed.

Krzyzewski, Calipari, and Williams continue to bring in top talent like they are growing on trees and they continue to win a lot of basketball games. It can be argued that if Izzo were coaching at Duke, Kentucky, or North Carolina he would have even more gaudy numbers when it comes to Final Fours and National Championships.

Mr. March

If you were to go up to anyone who follows college basketball and ask them who Mr. March is, I would bet that almost every single one would answer the same; Tom Izzo.

Almost every year when March rolls around, Michigan State seems to morph into a completely different team and the credit goes to Izzo. He prepares his team from day one to be ready for when the NCAA Tournament begins and more times than not it works out almost magically.

The Spartans often play a non-league schedule that most coaches would cringe at. Izzo does this not only to prepare his team for conference play, but also to get them ready for the NCAA Tournament. This season alone the Spartans played Duke, Kansas, and Notre Dame, all teams who are seeded No. 3 or higher in the NCAA Tournament. Though Michigan State lost all three of those early season games, there is no question they helped to prepare them for where they are now.

The 2015 NCAA tournament marks Izzo’s 18th in a row as head coach of the Spartans. During those 18 seasons, Michigan State has an overall tournament record of 44-16 on its way to six Final Fours and a National Title.

When it comes to coaching in March there is none better than Izzo and the stats prove it. Since becoming the head coach at Michigan State his teams are 13-1 in round-of-32 games

That being said, if there is one stat that will absolutely blow your mind, it’s that in Izzo’s career at MSU he has made the Final Four more times (6) than he has lost on the 1st weekend of the tournament (4). That stat absolutely blows my mind. How is that even possible?

The best ever, period

In my opinion, Tom Izzo is without a doubt the best college basketball coach in America, and it’s not even close. The fact he is able to take a lesser amount of talent compared to some of the bigger named schools and outplay them year after year come tournament time is simply amazing.

When all is said and done, Izzo will go down as one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all-time. I would argue that he is the best.

(Image Via: AP File Photo)

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Posted by Don Drysdale
I am a fan of all Detroit sports and LOVE to write about them!