John Calipari and Mark Few are both exceptional head coaches that any program in the country would be lucky to have. However, that doesn’t mean they’ve both had their share of hiccups in the NCAA Tournament. With both programs being bounced before the Elite Eight this year, we look at which coach has had the “better” resume with their current schools.
Looking back to the 2009-2010 season, the two teams are separated by just one victory. Gonzaga has won 366 while Kentucky has came out on top in 365 games. Both programs have done incredibly well in their conference, too, with Gonzaga winning 179 and Kentucky winning 173 games. Both of these win totals are wildly impressive (30.5 total wins per season), but perspective is key when analyzing data and that applies here as well. While both programs schedule tough regular season opponents from other conferences, the difference of in-conference competition is glaring with Gonzaga playing in the West Coast conference and Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference.
Though Gonzaga has made the NCAA Tournament every year during the 12-year period, that has much to do with playing in the weaker conference with a weaker conference tournament. Kentucky, due to unfortunate injury luck in 2013 plus a lack of chemistry and talent in 2021, has indeed missed the NCAA Tournament twice during the same time period. Though Few has been much more consistent in making the tournament, he’s seen his share of early exits while Calipari has made multiple deep runs. Kentucky has won a title, made four Final Fours and seven Elite Eights while Gonzaga has made two Final Fours and four Elite Eights.
Wins against 1/2 seeds since 2001— Aidan Dunn (@aidancdunn) March 25, 2022
UMBC - 1
St. Peter’s - 1
Oral Roberts - 1
Hampton - 1
Lehigh - 1
Norfolk St. - 1
FGCU - 1
MTSU - 1
Gonzaga - 0
Unfortunately St. Peter’s is on this list... which of course explains why Kentucky wasn’t playing last Saturday in Indianapolis. However, at least Kentucky has been able to find wins against top tournament seeds over the last decade. Gonzaga, like they do in the regular season, appears to only be able to beat up on the lower tournament seeds/lower ranked teams.
No one can defend Calipari after what we saw this season. Multiple hiccups late in games, a lack of an offensive identity and failing to “tweak” whatever he claimed the Wildcats “tweaked” during the week between the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. However, at least Calipari has brought a banner and much more postseason success to Lexington. As the data shows, we can all agree Mark Few hasn’t done any better at Gonzaga as they’re without a title despite having back-to-back years in which they were more than capable of winning it all.
Tweet of the Day
Sad to see it didn’t work out differently for Allen & UK.
So much uncertainty.
It’s certainly been a while.
He’s definitely had Calipari’s number the last few years.
That defense is something else.
So many moving parts the last few years.
Will Booker make it back to the Finals?
At least one SEC team makes the Elite Eight.