Power Ranking the Top 20 College Basketball Programs of All Time
Which college basketball programs have been the best over the years? Is UCLA or Kentucky the #1 program?
Triangle Hoops Journal has ranked the top programs of all-time.
The factors considered were national championships, total wins, NCAA Tournament wins, Final Fours, and conference championships. In addition, a key component to the rankings was name recognition, which took into account whether the ranking made sense based on the program’s reputation and whether the program is generally associated with college basketball success.
The following rules were applied in order to improve the logic of the rankings:
• A program without a national championship cannot attain a top 10 ranking. The top 10 programs are the truly elite programs, and a program cannot seriously be considered as the best of the best without ever cutting down the nets.
• NCAA Tournament success was a major factor and is given more credit than any other factor. Therefore, in ranking programs with similar resumes, this was the deciding factor in which program deserved the higher ranking.
• A program with success in multiple eras was given more credit than a program with success in only one era. For example, Michigan State's two National Championships (79, 00) indicate greater long-term achievement and consistency than UConn's two National Championships (99, 04), and assuming all other factors were equal, Michigan State would earn the higher ranking.
Did your favorite school make the Top 20? Read on to find out!
20. Temple Owls
Rounding out the Top 20 is Temple, which attained its ranking based on its 1,740 all-time wins (#6), two Final Fours, 31 NCAA Tournament wins, and 10 conference championships.
Best known figure: John Chaney
Best player: Mark Macon
19. Marquette Golden Eagles
Marquette has one NCAA Championship, 1,445 all-time wins, three Final Fours, and 34 NCAA Tournament wins.
Best known figure: Al McGuire
Best player: Dwyane Wade
18. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys have two NCAA Championships, 1,502 all-time wins, six Final Fours, and 38 NCAA Tournament wins.
Their ranking was hurt by the fact that their championships were won in the 1940s.
Best known figure: Eddie Sutton
Best player: Bob Kurland
17. Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois has 1,630 all-time wins, five Final Fours, 38 NCAA Tournament wins, and 17 Big 10 Championships.
Best Known Figure: Lou Henson
Best Player: Kendall Gill
16. Villanova Wildcats
Villanova has one NCAA Championship, 1,530 all-time wins, four Final Fours, and 49 NCAA Tournament wins (#8).
Best known figure: Rollie Massimino
Best player: Paul Arizin
15. Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas was another team underrated by ESPN/Sagarin. The Razorbacks have one NCAA Championship, six Final Fours, and 40 NCAA Tournament wins. Their success has spanned multiple eras.
Best known figure: Nolan Richardson
Best player: Sidney Moncreif
14. Georgetown Hoyas
The Hoyas have one NCAA Championship, five Final Fours, 45 NCAA Tournament wins, 10 Big East Championships, and 1,499 all-time wins.
Best known figure: John Thompson
Best player: Patrick Ewing
13. Cincinnati Bearcats
The Bearcats have two NCAA Championships, 1,572 all-time wins, six Final Fours, and 40 NCAA Tournament wins.
Cincinnati's NCAA Championships were won in the 1960s ('60 & '61).
Best known figure: Oscar Robertson/Bob Huggins
Best player: Oscar Robertson
12. NC State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack has two NCAA Championships, 1,560 all-time wins, 10 ACC Championships, three Final Fours, and 32 NCAA Tournament wins. The Wolfpack is ranked slightly ahead of Cincinnati because its titles were won in multiple eras under different coaches.
Best known figure: Jim Valvano
Best player: David Thompson
11. Michigan Wolverines
The Wolverines have one NCAA Championship, 15 Big 10 Championships, six Final Fours, and 42 NCAA Tournament wins.
Best known figure: Chris Webber
Best player: Glen Rice
10. Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State has one NCAA Championship, 10 Final Fours, 20 Big 10 Championships, and has been the NCAA runner-up several times. The Buckeyes' success spans multiple eras, reaching Final Fours in seven different decades.
Best known figure: Clark Kellogg
Best player: Jerry Lucas
9. Syracuse Orange
The Orange are No. 5 in all-time wins with 1783, have four Final Fours, one NCAA Championship, and 52 NCAA Tournament wins. They have been incredibly consistent under Coach Boeheim.
Best known figure: Jim Boeheim
Best player: Derrick Coleman
8. Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans have two NCAA Championships, eight Final Fours, 10 Big Ten Championships, and 52 NCAA Tournament wins.
Best known figure: Magic Johnson
Best player: Magic Johnson
7. Louisville Cardinals
The Cardinals have two NCAA Championships, eight Final Fours, 60 NCAA Tournament wins, and 1,607 all-time wins.
Best known figure: Denny Crum
Best player: Wes Unseld
6. Indiana Hoosiers
The Hoosiers' five NCAA Championships were won in several eras from 1940 to 1987. Indiana is just below Duke and Kansas because IU has not had as much recent success, but does have eight Final Fours, 60 NCAA Tournament wins, and 20 Big Ten Championships.
Best known figure: Bob Knight
Best player: Scott May
5. Kansas Jayhawks
The Jayhawks' program comes in just ahead of Indiana based on their 2,003 all-time wins (#3), 13 Final Fours, 84 NCAA Tournament wins, and three National Championships spanning a period of 58 years.
Best known figure: James Naismith
Best player: Danny Manning
4. Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils have four NCAA Championships, 15 Final Fours (#3), 94 NCAA Tournament wins (#4) and 1,911 all-time wins (#4). Their only weakness is that all of their NCAA Championships were won after 1990.
Best known figure: Mike Krzyzewski
Best player: Christian Laettner
3. North Carolina Tar Heels
Carolina is just slightly below Kentucky and UCLA. The Heels have five NCAA Championships, 18 Final Fours (#1), 102 NCAA Tournament wins (#1), and is #2 in all-time wins.
Best known figure: Michael Jordan
Best player: Phil Ford/Michael Jordan
2. UCLA Bruins
The Bruins' program could really be considered #1b. UCLA has 11 NCAA Championships, 17 Final Fours, 99 NCAA Tournament wins, and 30 conference championships. Perhaps no program can match UCLA's legendary status, with the likes of Wooden, Alcindor, and Walton.
Best known figure: John Wooden
Best player: Lew Alcindor
1. Kentucky Wildcats
A close call between UK and UCLA, but Kentucky is #1 in all-time wins (200 more than UCLA) and has had success dating back to the 1940s. Kentucky has seven National Championships, 13 Final Fours, 103 NCAA Tournament wins, and 27 conference championships.
Best known figure: Adolf Rupp/Rick Pitino
Best player: Jamal Mashburn