Sports: Duke basketball: Coach K's 42 Blue Devils teams, ranked: Which one is No. 1?

Coach K's legacy beyond Duke includes a coaching tree that is still growing

  Coach K's legacy beyond Duke includes a coaching tree that is still growing Mike Krzyzewski's coaching career has impacted more than just the Duke program. His coaching tree stretches far and wide in college hoops and the NBA.For decades, Mike Krzyzewski has crafted a coaching tree with branches in nearly every conference, as programs look to capture Duke's style and success through hiring one of his top assistants.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski won't compare teams from his 42 seasons with the Blue Devils, let alone pick which one stands out among his five national champions.

“Just like I don’t rate my daughters or my grandchildren,” he said last week.

After an inconsistent regular season, the unexpected Final Four run from this year's team might make the 2021-22 Blue Devils one of his favorites, however.

From NFL plays to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day.

"They've grown up so much in the last 12 days," Krzyzewski said after Duke beat Texas Tech 78-73 in the Sweet 16. "It's such a joy. It's an amazing thing."

Duke repels Michigan State as Mike Krzyzewski punches ticket to 26th Sweet 16

  Duke repels Michigan State as Mike Krzyzewski punches ticket to 26th Sweet 16 No. 2 Duke beat No. 7 Michigan State 85-76 behind a game-high 19 points from star freshman forward Paolo Banchero.No. 2 Duke beat No. 7 Michigan State 85-76 behind a game-high 19 points from star freshman forward Paolo Banchero to reach the second weekend of the West Region, setting up a matchup with the winner of No. 3 Texas Tech and No. 11 Notre Dame later Sunday evening.

But is this team one of his best? Not when there's this much competition for No. 1.

Those five titles. Thirteen trips to the Final Four. Thirteen regular-season ACC championships and 15 tournament championships. From worst to best, here's where Krzyzewski's 42 teams rank. (Each season lists Duke's overall record, conference record and NCAA Tournament finish, where applicable.)

42. 1994-95: 13-18, 2-14

That record comes with an asterisk: Krzyzewski coached only the first 12 games, going 9-3, before stepping aside for the rest of the year due to exhaustion and a back injury. Overall, the 18 losses remain the most in a single season in the program's history. But the 15 losses suffered under interim coach Pete Gaudet don't go on Krzyzewski's résumé; Duke credits him only with the first three on the season.

Is Duke on verge of special run? Blue Devils no longer living on borrowed time

  Is Duke on verge of special run? Blue Devils no longer living on borrowed time This young, inexperienced team has same flaws as before March, but its tenacity and heart in a comeback win against Michigan State show possibility.The final minutes of the 85-76 win in the second round of the West Region against No. 7 Michigan State rewrites that script.

Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina coach Roy Williams meet before the final 2020-21 regular season game at Dean E. Smith Center. © Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina coach Roy Williams meet before the final 2020-21 regular season game at Dean E. Smith Center.

41. 2020-21: 13-11, 9-9

Last year's team suffered three separate three-game losing streaks and came in 10th in the ACC for the worst finish of Krzyzewski's career. There's a built-in excuse for this one-off decline in the form of the pandemic, which was a hurdle Duke was unable to overcome — the coronavirus forced the Blue Devils to drop out of the quarterfinals of the conference tournament and left them out of the at-large tournament conversation. From 1983 through his final year, this is one of only two Krzyzewski-coached teams at Duke to not make the tournament.

40. 1982-83: 11-17, 3-11

39. 1981-82: 10-17, 4-10

38. 1995-96: 18-13, 8-8 (first round)

37. 1980-81: 17-13, 8-8

Duke didn't turn into a dynasty overnight. While his first team reached the NIT quarterfinals, that was still a step back from the 1979-80 season, when the Blue Devils went 24-9, won the ACC tournament championship and reached the Elite Eight. Krzyzewski's next two teams were worse, with a combined mark of 21-34 overall and 7-21 in conference play. Help was on the way in the form of a freshman signing class that arrived in 1982 and kickstarted a dynasty.

March Madness 2022 live updates: Elite Eight continues for men, starts for women

  March Madness 2022 live updates: Elite Eight continues for men, starts for women The Final Four field is almost set, and the tournaments have been nothing shy of madness. It all starts up again Sunday afternoon.Mike Krzyzewski will take his team to the Final Four in his final season with Duke after a win over No. 4 Arkansas. No. 2 Villanova will join Duke after hanging on against No. 5 Houston on Saturday.

36. 2006-07: 22-11, 8-8 (first round)

Johnny Dawkins was part of Duke's celebrated 1982 recruiting class. © Associated Press Johnny Dawkins was part of Duke's celebrated 1982 recruiting class.

35. 1983-84: 24-10, 7-7 (second round)

34. 1984-85: 23-8, 8-6 (second round)

One of the great signing classes in ACC history — consisting of Jay Bilas, David Henderson and Johnny Dawkins — stepped on campus and changed the direction of the program. The 1983-84 team then added freshman Tommy Amaker and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Krzyzewski. Two years later, he'd make his first Final Four appearance.

33. 2015-16: 25-11, 11-7 (Sweet 16)

32. 1992-93: 24-8, 10-6 (second round)

31. 2016-17: 28-9, 11-7 (second round)

30. 2013-14: 26-9, 13-5 (first round)

29. 2011-12: 27-7, 13-3 (first round)

Here's a series of teams that would represent the high-water mark for the wide majority of college coaches. Instead, these are some of the most underachieving teams of Krzyzewski's tenure. The 1992-93 team was sandwiched between back-to-back national champions and the national runner-up. The groups of the 2010s are almost indistinguishable: Duke was ejected early multiple times, including first-round tournament exits in 2012 (Lehigh) and 2014 (Mercer) that delighted the haters.

'Biggest game in college basketball history': Former Duke, UNC players hype Final Four clash

  'Biggest game in college basketball history': Former Duke, UNC players hype Final Four clash The Final Four game between UNC and Duke will be the first time the programs have met in the NCAA Tournament, and ex-Heels, Blue Devils cannot wait."If you're not hyped to play in this game, man, you don't have a soul," said Berry, the most outstanding player of the 2017 Final Four after carrying the Tar Heels to their last national championship.

28. 1986-87: 24-9, 9-5 (Sweet 16)

27. 1996-97: 24-9, 12-4 (second round)

26. 2002-03: 26-7, 11-5 (Sweet 16)

Final Four winners and losers: UNC and first-year coach Hubert Davis riding high; Duke and Coach K face cruel exit

  Final Four winners and losers: UNC and first-year coach Hubert Davis riding high; Duke and Coach K face cruel exit Hubert Davis has a chance to become the first coach to win his first NCAA title in his first year. Kansas' Bill Self is going for his second title.But that was just the undercard to the main event: No. 2 Duke and No. 8 North Carolina in the first meeting between the two rivals in men's NCAA Tournament history.

25. 2019-20: 25-6, 15-5

The 2019-20 team is difficult to rank given how the season was canceled before tournament play as a result of the growing pandemic. Duke spent most of the year inside the top 10 of the Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll, including several weeks at No. 1, but limped to the finish line of the regular season with three losses in its final six games. The Blue Devils were still ranked among the national title favorites before the rest of the season was canceled.

24. 1987-88: 28-7, 9-5 (Final Four)

23. 2004-05: 27-6, 11-5 (Sweet 16)

New Orleans flair lights up national anthem at men's NCAA Tournament final

  New Orleans flair lights up national anthem at men's NCAA Tournament final Social media lit up after Tarriona "Tank" Ball and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the Kansas-UNC game.Cued in by the notes of a trumpet, Tarriona "Tank" Ball performed the silky, upbeat vocals to "The Star-Spangled Banner" with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band playing behind her in a funky two-minute rendition.

DUKE LOVEFEST: Duke and Coach K hate takes a break on eve of Final Four

RIVALRY GAME: ‘That means nothing’: Coach K blocks out Duke-North Carolina rivalry hoopla as Final Four showdown nears

22. 2007-08: 28-6, 13-3 (second round)

Krzyzewski had the Blue Devils at 22-1 overall and 10-0 in the ACC before the 2007-08 season ran off the rails: Duke went 6-5 the rest of the way, barely escaping Belmont's upset attempt in the first round of the tournament before being ejected by West Virginia in the second. The 2004-05 team was led by junior guard JJ Redick and might've overachieved by reaching the Sweet 16.

21. 2008-09: 30-7, 11-5 (Sweet 16)

It's Jon Scheyer's time to lead Duke men's basketball. He's ready for the challenge

  It's Jon Scheyer's time to lead Duke men's basketball. He's ready for the challenge Jon Scheyer is the first new Duke men's basketball coach since 1980 with Mike Krzyzewski retiring. It's a job he's ready to handle.“Coach K’s humor sort of surprises people,” said Collins, head coach at Northwestern for the last nine years and a 13-year assistant for Krzyzewski. “He’d always say to players that he was a true inner city Chicagoian, then say about me: ‘He’s not from real Chicago. He’s from the suburbs.’ Then he’d talk about knowing all these city streets and shortcuts. That same joke he’d use with me, he’d use with Jon.

20. 1988-89: 28-8, 9-5 (Final Four)

19. 2017-18: 29-8, 13-5 (Elite Eight)

18. 1989-90: 29-9, 9-5 (championship game)

Each of the top 21 teams on this list won 28 or more games and advanced at least as far as the Sweet 16. In 1989-90, Duke reached the title game only to get blown out by UNLV; the 30-point margin (103-73) remains a record for the championship. All five starters on the 2017-18 team turned pro after that season, led by guard Jayson Tatum, making it one of the most gifted groups of Krzyzewski's tenure.

17. 2012-13: 30-6, 14-4 (Elite Eight)

16. 1999-00: 29-5, 15-1 (Sweet 16)

Krzyzewski earned a rare nod as ACC Coach of the Year in 1999-00 — he'd only win five times in his 42 seasons — after milking 29 wins and a Sweet 16 bid out of a pretty young group that lapped the rest of the conference. A year later, that same cast would put together a dominant run to the national title. The 2012-13 team was the best in the country for most of the season and spent a month at No. 1 but couldn't get past eventual national champion Louisville in the Elite Eight.

15. 1993-94: 28-6, 12-4 (championship game)

14. 2010-11: 32-5, 13-3 (Sweet 16)

13. 2005-06: 32-4, 14-2 (Sweet 16)

12. 1997-98: 32-4, 15-1 (Elite Eight)

In 1993-94, Duke came up just shy of the program's third title in four years after losing 76-72 to Arkansas in the championship game. The squads in 2010-11, 2005-06 and 1997-98 are three of his best to not win it all: Duke spent every week of 1997-98 inside the top three but coughed up a 10-point halftime lead and lost to Kentucky in the Elite Eight.

Mark Williams (15) and Paolo Banchero (5) celebrate Duke's win over Arkansas in the Elite Eight. © Ezra Shaw, Getty Images Mark Williams (15) and Paolo Banchero (5) celebrate Duke's win over Arkansas in the Elite Eight.

11. 2021-22: 32-6, 16-4 (Final Four)

As in 2017-18, Duke is set to send as many as five players from this year's roster into the June NBA draft — and all five could go in the first round. This may not be the best team of Krzyzewski's tenure but it does stand as one of his finest coaching jobs. Beginning with the final minutes of a win against Michigan State in the second round, Duke has been a different team in the tournament after an uneven regular season.

10. 2003-04: 31-6, 13-3 (Final Four)

9. 2001-02: 31-4, 13-3 (Sweet 16)

8. 2009-10: 35-5, 13-3 (national champions)

That 2009-10 ranks last among Krzyzewski's five national champions is a statement in itself, since the Blue Devils were deep, experienced and often dominant on both ends. Led by senior guard and future Krzyzewski replacement Jon Scheyer, Duke went 17-0 at home and lost just once from February on to claim a title in the third straight decade.

7. 2018-19: 32-6, 14-4 (Elite Eight)

Tyus Jones (5) reacts after hitting a three-point shot late in the second half that helped Duke beat Wisconsin for the 2015 national championship. © Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports Tyus Jones (5) reacts after hitting a three-point shot late in the second half that helped Duke beat Wisconsin for the 2015 national championship.

6. 2014-15: 35-4, 15-3 (national champions)

Krzyzewski harnessed the power of the one-and-done prospect in 2014-15. Built around freshmen Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, the Blue Devils went 11-1 in games decided by single digits and beat a much more experienced Wisconsin team to capture the fifth and most recent title of his tenure.

5. 1985-86: 37-3, 12-2 (championship game)

With Bilas, Dawkins and Henderson now seniors, Amaker, a junior, and newcomer Danny Ferry coming off the bench, Duke lost two games in three days in January but was otherwise flawless all the way to the final night of the season. The Blue Devils would lose a close one to Louisville for the national championship and make another three Final Four trips before Krzyzewski's first title. The 37 wins set a program record later tied in 1998-99.

4. 2000-01: 35-4, 13-3 (national champions)

Sandwiched among another five or six teams more than good enough to win it all, the 2000-01 squad put it all together behind a roster starring Shane Battier, Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Nate James and Chris Duhon. The offense averaged 90.7 points per game and is one of the best in college basketball history.

3. 1998-99: 37-2, 16-0 (championship game)

One of the best teams in history to not win it all, Duke lost by two points to Cincinnati on Nov. 28 and by three points to Connecticut in the title game on March 29. Of the 37 wins, just three came by single digits. Four players would go early in the next draft: Elton Brand at No. 1, Trajan Langdon at No. 11, Corey Maggette at No. 13 and William Avery at No. 14. This was an absolutely dominant group that would've challenged for the top spot by sealing the deal against the Huskies.

2. 1990-91: 32-7, 11-3 (national champions)

Duke's Christian Laettner shoots the game-winning basket in overtime over Kentucky's Deron Feldhaus that sent the Blue Devils to the 1992 Final Four. © CHARLES ARBOGAST, Associated Press Duke's Christian Laettner shoots the game-winning basket in overtime over Kentucky's Deron Feldhaus that sent the Blue Devils to the 1992 Final Four.

1. 1991-92: 34-2, 14-2 (national champions)

The teams that turned Duke into the most envied and hated-on program in the country. (You can mostly thank Christian Laettner for that.) After knocking on the door for the second half of the 1980s, the Blue Devils upset UNLV in 1991 and then repeated a year later behind Laettner's heroics in the Elite Eight against Kentucky. Starring Laettner, Grant Hill and Bobby Hurley, the 1991-92 team is one of the best in college basketball history and Krzyzewski's greatest achievement.

Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Duke basketball: Coach K's 42 Blue Devils teams, ranked: Which one is No. 1?

It's Jon Scheyer's time to lead Duke men's basketball. He's ready for the challenge .
Jon Scheyer is the first new Duke men's basketball coach since 1980 with Mike Krzyzewski retiring. It's a job he's ready to handle.“Coach K’s humor sort of surprises people,” said Collins, head coach at Northwestern for the last nine years and a 13-year assistant for Krzyzewski. “He’d always say to players that he was a true inner city Chicagoian, then say about me: ‘He’s not from real Chicago. He’s from the suburbs.’ Then he’d talk about knowing all these city streets and shortcuts. That same joke he’d use with me, he’d use with Jon.

See also