Let me dispel some myths about Boeheim’s ability to consistently win 20+ wins.
#1: He wins all his games against cupcakes and then goes .500 in the Big East to get to 20 wins. Wrong. In 32 years of Big East basketball, Boeheim’s teams have finished below .500 only twice: the 1980-1981 squad went 6-8, and the 2005-2006 team went 7-9. Only three other teams went .500: 1981-1982 (7-7), 1996-1997 (9-9), and 2007-2008 (9-9). That means in Big East play, Syracuse has been better than a .500 team 27 out of 32 times, or 84% of the time.
Let’s even give the Boeheim-hater the margin of 1 game over .500. That’s 5 more teams (two teams at 9-7 and three at 10-8). That still means he has had 22 teams in 32 years BETTER than that.
By no stretch is Jim Boeheim just a .500 coach in the Big East. And even if he were, the Big East historically has been a very tough conference. .500 in such a conference would be a nice accomplishment. The worst team in Boeheim history went 6-8 in the Big East. Oh yeah, that worst Boeheim team… won the Big East tournament, and lacking an automatic bid to the NCAA, went to the NIT, and eventually lost in the NIT finals. Pretty impressive, for his worst team.
#2: He wins all his games against cupcakes in out of conference games. Syracuse has played 46 top 25 non-conference regular season games over the past 32 years (I’m not counting Boeheim’s first three seasons when there was no Big East conference and thus no non-conference games). Syracuse is 29-17 in those games, winning 63% of those games. He obviously does better against the non-top 25 teams, but to suggest he wins beats only the unranked teams is a fallacy.
If we take his 63% winning percentage against non-conference Top 25 teams, and multiplied that by 35, the average number of non NCAA tournament games a year, he would still win an average of 22 games a year. That’s assuming that he played only top 25 games for every game of the season, which would be absurd.
#3: He reaches the 20 game level to look impressive. Boeheim’s teams have reached 20+ wins 33 of his 35 seasons. They have won 22+ games in 27 of his 35 seasons (and will make it 28 this year). 18 times his teams have won 24+ games, and this season should make it 19. So not only does he win 20 games routinely, he wins 22 and 23 games routinely.
Jim Boeheim has as 120-127 record in his career against top 25 teams (49% winning percentage). So you take the average Syracuse basketball team and you throw a random Top 25 basketball team against them, and they are even money to win the game.
He is 52-63 against top 10 teams for his career (45%). An average Jim Boeheim team has a 45% chance of beating a top 10 team. Outstanding in my opinion.
Boeheim is 17-53 against top 5 teams, or 24%. So throw any Jim Boeheim squad on a court against the top 5 teams in the country, and they will win 1 out of 4. I wouldn’t call that outstanding, but over a 35 year window, that’s a pretty good indication of how competitive his teams have been.
Syracuse is currently on a 7 game non-conference regular season winning streak against top 25 teams. The last time they lost to a top 25, non-Big East team, during the regular season was 12/5/2006 versus Oklahoma State.
Bottom line, Jim Boeheim wins 20+ games a year because he is an outstanding coach with a consistently strong program, and he knows how to win games.