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The Top Coaches Villanova Basketball’s Jay Wright Hasn’t Beaten

To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best

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Happy Thursday Nova Nation! The Villanova Wildcats are led by one of the greatest coaches in the game today, Jay Wright. He’s gone toe-to-toe with some of the best of his peers (Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Bill Self, Tom Izzo, etc.) and beaten them all. Well, almost all of them.

There are still a handful of coaches at the top of the food chain that Wright has yet to notch a win over, and today we’re going to see who he should be gunning for next. Here are the five winningest active coaches in college basketball that Jay Wright has yet to beat.

Cliff Ellis, 756 wins

Ellis is in his 41st year as a Division One head coach. He now helms the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, who he last took to the NCAA Tournament in 2015. He’s better known for his time with Clemson in the late 80’s and Auburn in the late 90’s. His 1999 Auburn team earned a 1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament, but lost to Ohio State in the Sweet 16. Wright and Ellis have never faced off before, but this matchup could happen as early as next season with Villanova and Coastal Carolina both scheduled to participate in the 2019 Myrtle Beach Invitational.

John Calipari, 733 wins

Calipari is in his 27th year as a Division One head coach and was selected for the Kentucky job after Jay Wright turned it down in 2009. Since then, Calipari has proven to be one of the best recruiters and coaches at the college level, winning a National Championship in 2012 and making six Final Four appearances (although two of those have since been vacated). Wright is 0-2 against Calipari, losing to him twice in a home and home series with Memphis in 2003 and 2004. Considering Villanova has played Kentucky once in the last 20 seasons, the best chance these two have of meeting up again is in the NCAA Tournament.

Dana Altman, 630 wins

Altman is in his 30th year as a Division One head coach, currently helming the Oregon Ducks. His previous career stops included Marshall, Kansas State, and Creighton before moving to the Pacific North-West. The most recent link between Altman and Wright was when former Wildcat Dylan Ennis decided to transfer from Villanova to Oregon in 2015. Villanova and Oregon haven’t played since the 70’s, and given the geographic divide this matchup will likely require a tournament to get them together.

Tubby Smith, 606 wins

Smith is in his 28th season as head coach, now at his 7th different school in High Point. He’s made a number of noteable stops at Memphis, Texas Tech, and Minnesota. But his most successful stint was at Kentucky where he won his National Championship. That’s also the only time Smith and Wright have faced off. It was the 2007 NCAA Tournament where Kentucky and Villanova were the 8 and 9 seeds respectively. Smith won that round, and the two haven’t faced off since.

Bob McKillop, 566 wins

McKillop is in his 30th season as a head coach, all of them with Davidson. If you’re not familiar with his coaching, you’re surely familiar with his star pupil Steph Curry. Considering McKillop has spent his entire career at a mid-major school, his winning record and nine NCAA Tournament appearances are very impressive. Wright and McKillop have never faced off before, but their combined success suggests that it could happen sooner than later in an early or post season tournament.

So given the Top 5 candidates, I leave it to you Nova Nation to vote on who Jay Wright should take down next.


Which coach that Jay Wright hasn’t beaten would you most like to see him go up against?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Cliff Ellis
    (15 votes)
  • 93%
    John Calipari
    (625 votes)
  • 1%
    Dana Altman
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    Tubby Smith
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    Bob McKillop
    (10 votes)
670 votes total Vote Now

In other “news”, Xavier is coming to town, more meaningless bracketology, and Villanova Women’s Basketball is your 2019 Big 5 Champion. Enjoy!

Villanova vs Xavier

Xavier Visits Villanova and Hopes to Give Wildcats First Big East Loss | BCSNN
The Xavier University Musketeers, 11-7 overall and 3-2 in the BIG EAST Conference, visit the No. 22/21 Villanova University Wildcats, 13-4 overall and 4-0 in the BIG EAST

Big 5 Champions

Villanova women’s basketball wins Big 5 championship by beating Penn at the Palestra | The Inquirer
Penn used a perimeter-centric attack to outlast the Quakers fast start to win the Big 5 championship.

Despite Parker's dominant performance, Penn women's basketball falls to Villanova | The Daily Pennsylvanian
In what was a game of runs, Penn women’s basketball and Villanova went tit for tat until the final buzzer, but it was the Wildcats that had the stronger finish, and they prevailed by a score of 58-50.


NCAA Tournament bracket projection: Where is Duke in Field of 68 debut? | Sporting News
Welcome to Sporting News' first "Field of 68" of the 2018-19 season. Sure, others have been projecting the NCAA Tournament field since before the first jump ball was tossed in the air. But, yeah, that’s almost complete speculation. Fun, but not based on any real data.

Bracketology: NCAA tournament projection as of January 16, 2019 - Inside the Hall | Indiana Hoosiers Basketball News, Recruiting and Analysis
With ranked teams losing 15 games to unranked opponents since the last set of projections just eight days ago, there was a substantial amount of movement this week.

College Basketball

Coaches questions: Who was the toughest coach you ever faced? | ESPN
Every week, we ask our coaches to tell us something we don't know. This week, a certain Michigan State coach is a popular subject.

Chris Mack, Jeff Capel and More College Coaches Standing Out in Year One |
Which first-year coaches have hit the ground running in 2018–19? Plus, a look at Duke's challenges without Tre Jones and a chat with Ignas Brazdeikis.