ACC Coach of the Year Hierarchy: Is it Krzyzewski vs. Forbes?

With only a little over one week left in the regular season for ACC basketball, let’s do a quick temperature check on where things stand with the ACC Coach of the Year race.

There are five names mentioned here, although the first four are the ones truly vying for the honor.


Tier 1

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

    • Record: 24-4, 14-3 ACC
      • Big Wins: Kentucky (N), Gonzaga (N), Virginia Tech (H), Wake Forest (H and A), North Carolina (A), Virginia (A)
    • Adjusted Offensive Rating: 118.1 points per 100 possessions, No. 10
    • Adjusted Defensive Rating: 93.2 points per 100 possessions, No. 19

The Case To Be Made:

    • This may seem reductive, but lets borrow Occam’s razor for a minute: Duke has been the best team in the ACC this season — by a wide margin. Coach K’s final run being marked with an ACC Coach of the Year award, which would be his first since 2000 (lol), would be a fitting coda. That, however, is just narrative. This is a really good basketball team. The Blue Devils are strong on both sides of the floor; they rank inside the top 20 nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom. Wake Forest is the only other ACC team to rank inside the top 50 in both of the metrics. Duke’s top wins are better than what any other team in the league has to offer, too.
    • There are also fun player-development success stories with the roster: Wendell Moore Jr., Mark Williams and Jeremy Roach have all made jumps. During the middle of the season, the Blue Devils managed to implement a healthy AJ Griffin to the lineup; he’s soared and now pairs with Paolo Banchero as one of the top 1-2 punches in the country.

Steve Forbes, Wake Forest

    • Record: 21-8, 11-7, ACC
      • Big Wins:
    • Adjusted Offensive Rating: 111.6 points per 100 possessions, No. 47
    • Adjusted Defensive Rating: 96.7 points per 100 possessions, No. 50

The Case To Be Made:

    • Forbes profiled as the man who could turn things around for a Wake Forest program that spent the better part of the last decade in the wilderness of college hoops; however, the rebuild happened quicker than expected, for outsiders of the program at least. After turning over a large portion of his roster, Forbes build a team that played faster and with much greater flow on offense. Transfers Alondes Williams and Jake LaRavia led that charge. The Demon Deacons rank inside the top 50 nationally in both offense and defense, though. Anchored by center Dallas Walton, another transfer, Wake Forest is an adaptable defense, one that can mix coverages and cover different matchups.


Tier 2

Jim Larranaga, Miami

    • 20-8, 12-5 ACC
      • Big Wins: Wake Forest (H and A), Duke (A), North Carolina (H), Virginia Tech (A)
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 115.1 points per 100 possessions, No. 16
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 102.9 points per 100 possessions, No. 152

The Case To Be Made:

    • Along with Steve Forbes and Wake Forest, Larranaga and Miami one the overachievers off the ACC this season. After spending the last four seasons in a bit of a malaise, the Hurricanes roared back. Larranaga masterfully added two well-time transfer pieces: Charlie Moore, a steals machine who has booster the team’s overall ball-handling on offense, and Jordan Miller, an ideal 3-and-D wing (with some playmaking juice) who fits perfectly with Isaiah Wong and Kam McGusty.
    • Larranaga altered Miami’s offense some, too. Yes, this team is still one of the premier high-volume pick-and-roll offenses; however, the Canes added in more 5-out concepts, which have opened the floor and created clean kick-out passes. With all of its guard power, Miami has played raster this season as well.


Mike Brey, Notre Dame

    • 20-8, 13-4 ACC
      • Big Wins:
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 111.5 points per 100 possessions, No. 49
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.8 points per 100 possessions, No. 75

The Case To Be Made:

    • Brey has taken a veteran team and mixed in a talented freshman guard — Blake Wesley — to form one of the best teams in the ACC.



Tier 3

Tony Bennett, Virginia

    • 17-11, 11-7 ACC
      • Big Wins: Providence (N), Duke (A), Virginia Tech (H), Miami (H and A)
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 109.8 points per 100 possessions, No. 72
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.9 points per 100 possessions, No. 80

The Case To Be Made:

    • Bennett lost his three best players to the NBA, and three other players to the transfer portal, including two rotation pieces and an intriguing upside talent. While the offense looked disjointed earlier this season, Bennett’s gotten this team to find a bit of a groove in its Blocker Mover approach, while mixing in some new wrinkles. With Jayden Gardner playing at an All-ACC level, Virginia’s offense ranks top 25 nationally in efficiency over the last 10 games; point guard Reece Beekman is getting better and better, on both sides of the ball. The success of this team start with the overall high floor of the program. Bennett’s teams don’t turn the ball over on offense, don’t foul on defense and usually clean the glass defensively, although this isn’t the best defensive rebounding team in recent history. Put that together, it’s like Virginia starts every game with a 2-4 points advantage. Beyond the principles, though, Bennett has helped develop two of the better young defenders in the ACC — Beekman and Kadin Shedrick — while also getting this team to improve as the season evolved.