Tom Izzo vs. Mike Krzyzewski: To be the man you have to beat the man

About two weeks ago I wrote an article titled, “Why Michigan State will go to the Final Four.” The article of course had the Spartans advancing all the way to the Final Four, hence the title. Now my prediction has played out perfectly and we will get to see a coaching matchup for the ages, Tom Izzo vs. Mike Krzyzewski.

The reason for bringing up that article is not because I want to toot my own horn, trust me I did not win anything this year, but because of something that came to my mind while I wrote it.

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While looking carefully over the brackets on Selection Sunday I was pretty confident Michigan State would have a great chance of advancing through their region and on to the Final Four. I was also very confident Duke would win their region, thus setting up a matchup between two of the greatest college basketball coaches in the game today, if not in history.

Even as a Michigan fan, seeing that potential matchup between two of the all-time greats sitting in front of me on my bracket made me smile.

Personally, when it comes to game preparation, motivation, and in-game coaching, I believe Izzo is the best college basketball coach in America today, bar none. How could I think this you may ask?

This makes seven Final Four appearances for Izzo in his 20 years at Michigan State. Since 1999 no other coach has gone to the Final Four more often than Izzo. In comparison, Krzyzewski, who goes by the nickname Coach K, has led Duke to four Final Four’s in the same time period.

Even though this is the case, many jump to the conclusion that Krzyzewski is the better coach and some even believe that it’s not close.

Let’s get something straight, Coach K is an amazing coach, quite possibly the best all-around coach in the history of college basketball and in no way am I discounting his accomplishments. He is the all-time leader in wins in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history, ironically the record breaking win was again Izzo and the Spartans, and he has won four NCAA Championships.

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Krzyzewski has been to 12 Final Fours compared to Izzo’s seven, and has four NCAA Championships compared to Izzo’s one. If you look only at those numbers in a vacuum it seems like the argument is over, right? Wrong. The talent that Coach K gets to play for Duke dwarfs the talent Izzo gets to play for Michigan State, and that must be discussed.

Since 1990, Krzyzewski has successfully recruited 48 McDonald’s All-Americans to play for him at Duke, the most in all of college basketball. In the same time period, Izzo has managed to bring in 12 McDonald’s All-Americans of his own, not even close to Coach K.

Some will argue, and have argued strongly that recruiting is part of coaching and it must be taken into consideration when discussing who the best coach is. I do not disagree with this notion at all, but I must then argue the following point. If Tom Izzo was given 48 McDonald’s All-Americans over the past 25 years or so, he too would have at least four NCAA Championships under his belt. Obviously there is no way to prove that, but considering what he has done with much less talent it should at least be brought up.

There will always be an argument about who is the best college basketball coach in America, but this coming Saturday we will get a chance to see two of the best in the game go head-to-head with the chance to play for a National Championship on the line.

This Final Four is Tom Izzo’s chance to cement himself as one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball. In my opinion he is has already done that, but the doubters are everywhere; time to prove them wrong. To be the man, you have to beat the man.

(Feature Image Via: USA Today Sports Images)

 

 

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