In college basketball as in other sports, there’s no single answer to the question of what marks a team as “great”. Some of the game’s most famous champions—say, Jim Valvano’s 1982-83 NC State squad—were respectable teams that got hot at the right time, while some of the most astounding collections of individual stars never made it to the pinnacle of the sport.
Sometimes, of course, enormous talent does lead to championship success, as it did in 2009 for Tyler Hansbrough’s North Carolina juggernaut. Just as often though, a team like Paul Pierce’s 1996-97 Kansas Jayhawks seems to have all the pieces but can’t put together a title run.
Herein, a closer look at those two loaded squads and the rest of the 50 greatest college basketball teams ever assembled.
Note: in the interest of making the list less repetitious, teams that had very similar lineups in more than one season have been consolidated into a single entry. For example, the Florida Gators, who won the 2006 and 2007 national titles with the same starting five, appear once for both seasons.