Basketball Teams with the Most Men's NCAA Tournament Wins

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2022

Basketball Teams with the Most Men's NCAA Tournament Wins

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Regular-season accomplishments are nice, but success is largely viewed through the lens of March Madness.

    Throughout the history of the men's NCAA tournamentwhich began in 1939UCLA has brought home a record 11 national championships. However, a different team stands atop the all-time list of victories in the Big Dance.

    One note of clarification: Since its inception, the field has expanded from eight to 68 teams and utilized a variety of formats. Over the years, byes and play-in games have altered the construction of the bracket. Any victory is included.

    The list, which includes vacated wins and does not factor in the NIT, is accurate as of Elite Eight results in the 2022 tourney.

T-8. Michigan State Spartans and Syracuse Orange

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    NCAA Tournament Wins: 70

    Michigan State had appeared in the NCAA tournament twice before Jud Heathcote took over in 1976-77. Three seasons later, a roster led by future NBA legend Magic Johnson propelled the Spartans to their first-ever national championship.

    Heathcote guided MSU to 14 wins in nine appearances; Tom Izzo has overseen 24 straight trips to March Madness with 53 wins. Izzo's teams have collected eight Final Four runs and one national title.

    Syracuse has a relatively similar history.

    Before hiring Jim Boeheim in 1975, the Orange had eight NCAA tournament victories. He sharpened what Roy Danforth built, turning Syracuse into a perennial contender. The program has only missed the Big Dance in 10 of his 46 seasons, winning 62 games with one championship highlighting five journeys to the Final Four.

7. Villanova Wildcats

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    NCAA Tournament Wins: 71

    Villanova's history goes back to the beginning.

    During the inaugural NCAA tournament in 1939, the Wildcats picked up a victory over Brown. They returned to the postseason three more times under Al Severance, who preceded six NCAA bids for Villanova with Jack Kraft leading the program.

    Rollie Massimino provided the championship breakthrough, helping the eighth-seeded Wildcats to a surprise title in 1985. Overall, they landed 20 wins in his 19 seasons.

    Jay Wright replaced Steve Lappas in 2001 and has built the program into a powerhouse. Through the Elite Eight in 2022, Wright has 34 victories with national championships in 2016 and 2018.

6. Louisville Cardinals

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    Chris Steppig/Associated Press

    NCAA Tournament Wins: 76

    Louisville's program soared under the leadership of Denny Crum, who coached the Cardinals for exactly 30 seasons from 1971-72 to 2000-01. They reached March Madness 23 times, heading to six Final Fours and celebrating two national titles.

    Following his retirement, the school hired Rick Pitino. Although his tenure ended unceremoniously, Pitino had major success.

    Pitino oversaw 13 tournament teams in 16 years, and Louisville won a since-vacated championship over Michigan in 2013. But we're not ignoring the reality that it happened.

    Louisville posted 70 of these 76 wins during their tenures.

T-4. Kansas Jayhawks and UCLA Bruins

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    Greg Nelson/Getty Images

    NCAA Tournament Wins: 113

    Thanks to Sunday's triumph over Miami, Kansas matched UCLA for the fourth-most NCAA tournament wins.

    Kansas has a proud basketball tradition with three championships, six runner-ups and seven other Final Four appearanceswhich includes the 2022 squad. Phog Allen, Larry Brown and Bill Self all won national titles while leading the Jayhawks.

    And the most decorated program in Division I history, UCLA is most famous for its dominance in the John Wooden era.

    Wooden began his tenure in 1949 and reached the postseason only three times in his first 13 years. Starting in 1962, however, the Big Dance belonged to the Bruins. They won 10 national titles over a 14-year stretch, including seven straight from 1967-73.

    Wooden recorded 47 tournament victories in his UCLA career, and 10 coaches have combined for the other 66. Jim Harrick led the lone non-Wooden championship team in 1995.

    One notable connection is Brown oversaw UCLA's run to the Final Four in 1980 before winning the 1988 title at Kansas.

3. Duke Blue Devils

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    NCAA Tournament Wins: 118

    Duke put together a few respectable runs in the early years of the NCAA tournament, making the Final Four in three 1960s seasons under Vic Bubas and in 1978 with Bill Foster.

    But there's no question this number is about Mike Krzyzewski.

    Foster's successor in 1980, Coach K waited until his fourth season to finally punch a ticket to the Big Dance. During these last 39 seasons, Duke has appeared in 36 of the 38 NCAA tournaments and just secured Krzyzewski's 13th trip to the Final Four.

    Heading into the final weekend of the 2022 tourney, Duke has five championships and four runner-up finishes in his tenure. Krzyzewski is the all-time leader with 101 victories in March Madness.

2. North Carolina Tar Heels

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    NCAA Tournament Wins: 130

    Thanks to the 2022 squad's run to the Final Four, North Carolina has climbed within a single victory of sharing the record.

    In his debut season, Hubert Davis has become the sixth UNC coach to oversee a Final Four team. And he's aiming to join Frank McGuire, Dean Smith and predecessor Roy Williams as the leaders of a national championship-winning roster.

    McGuire is most notable for the 1956-57 Tar Heels' 32-0 season, while Smith and Williams are college basketball legends. Smith took UNC to 11 Final Fours with a pair of titles, and Williams won three championships in five Final Fours.

    North Carolina's pursuit of the record-tying triumph will come opposite Mike Krzyzewski and archrival Duke.

1. Kentucky Wildcats

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    Greg Nelson/Getty Images

    NCAA Tournament Wins: 131

    In the aftermath of 2022's crushing loss to Saint Peter's, this probably isn't much of a comfort. Kentucky became only the 10th second-seeded team to lose an opening-round game since 1985.

    Still, an all-time record is iconic.

    Kentucky's eight national championships only trail UCLA's 11, and no program has appeared in the NCAA tournament more often than the 'Cats. Kentucky (57) holds a strong lead over UNC (49), Kansas (48) and UCLA (47) in that category.

    Current coach John Calipari has accounted for 31 of Kentucky's tournament wins and celebrated a national title in 2012.