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Where Does Tom Izzo Rank Among Best NCAA Tournament Coaches?


Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo

  • Tom Izzo is heading to his eighth Final Four with Michigan State.
  • Using the Bet Labs database, we analyze where Izzo ranks among the best coaches in the NCAA Tournament

Michigan State is headed back to the Final Four. This is the eighth time the program has reached the tournament’s final weekend under Tom Izzo since 1999, the most of any coach in the nation over that time period.

Few expected the Spartans to get to Minneapolis. According to ESPN’s Who Picked Whom, only 11.1% of brackets had Michigan State in the Final Four. This is not surprising since Izzo’s team needed to beat top overall seed and tournament favorite Duke in order to get out of the East Region.

In Sunday’s Elite Eight matchup, the Blue Devils were 2.5-point favorites over the Spartans and Mike Krzyzewski had a great track record against Izzo, winning 11 of the previous 12 meetings. But Michigan State was able to overcome the odds and history to upset Duke.

Perhaps the outcome shouldn’t have been surprising as Izzo has a knack for guiding his team to college basketball’s biggest stage. With all of his success, is Izzo the best at coaching in the NCAA Tournament?

One way to find out is to compare Izzo’s actual wins to the number of victories we’d expect based on the betting market. As an example, Michigan State was a +124 underdog to Duke in the Elite Eight. Once you account for the juice, the implied probability of the Spartans winning was 42.9%.

We can repeat this process for every game Izzo has coached in the NCAA Tournament since 2006 using betting data from Bet Labs.

Once we calculate the implied probabilities, we can sum them to get the expected numbers of wins. In Izzo’s case that number is 26.4 victories. Since 2006, the future Hall of Fame coach has gone 29-13 in the tournament, exceeding the betting market’s expectations by 2.6 wins.

How does that compare to other coaches in our database?

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