Jay Wright was the don of the Big East. In his time at Villanova he won 520 games with a .725 winning percentage. In conference he had 244 wins and a glittering .665 winning percentage. Since the reconfiguration of the Big East, Wright’s teams have won either the regular season or tournament championship every year. In Wright’s tenure the Wildcats went to the Elite Eight five times, the Final Four four times, and won the title twice. With his departure there is a gaping hole coming available at the top of the conference.
Villanova isn’t going to just fall off the map. Kyle Neptune comes recommended by Wright and inherits a roster still loaded with talent. The impact of Wright is unquestionable though, and there will be some fall off. Which team may inherit the Villanova role is open to discussion, which coach will fill Wright’s role as best coach is not.
Sean Miller is less than 100 wins behind Wright all time. His winning percentage of .730 is somehow even better than Wright’s. In the Pac 12 Miller’s teams ran up 150 wins at a .688 clip. The Atlantic 10 was clearly a tier below, but there Miller won at a .713 rate. Miller has also taken four teams to the Elite Eight but has yet to break through to the Final Four.
Those numbers stand out from all the other Big East coaches:
Thad Matta- 439 wins. .740 winning percentage. One Final Four.
Greg McDermott- 557 wins (not all DI), .627 winning percentage. One Sweet 16.
Ed Cooley- 313 wins. .598 winning percentage. One Sweet 16 in 16 years.
Shaka Smart- 291 wins. .652 winning percentage. One Final Four.
Mike Anderson- 420 wins. .634 winning percentage. One Elite Eight.
Shaheen Holloway- 64 wins. .529 winning percentage. One Elite Eight.
Dan Hurley- 224 wins. .596 winning percentage. Four tournament appearances.
Patrick Ewing- 68 wins. .447 winning percentage. One tournament appearance.
Tony Stubblefield- 17 wins. .378 winning percentage. Covered up sexual assault.
Kyle Neptune- 16 wins. .500 winning percentage.
Tournament records tell the same story.
Career NCAA Tournament Record— Retire FiftyTu (@RetireFiftyTu) April 20, 2022
Thad Matta: 24-13
Sean Miller: 19-11
Mike Anderson: 9-9
Shaka Smart: 7-9
Greg McDermott: 6-10
Shaheen Holloway: 3-1
Ed Cooley: 3-6
Dan Hurley: 2-4
Patrick Ewing: 0-1
Tony Stubblefield: 0-0
Kyle Neptune: 0-0
The only other coach who compares is new Butler head man Thad Matta. Where Miller has the advantage over Matta is that he isn’t a lying weasel. Matta also fell off the last for years he coached, making the tournament twice, winning a single NCAA game, and finishing 7-11 in 2016-17, the last season he coached high level basketball.
Xavier has made a sea change. When this season started they had an unproven coach still trying to find his way in the Big East. When next season starts they will have the premier coaching talent in the conference on their sideline. The old don of the Big East is gone, the new one is Xavier’s.