Success is measured by winning in sports, so here are the eight most successful basketball schools in NCAA history. With this year’s March Madness tournament already reaching the sweet sixteen, how many of the schools from this list are still playing in this year’s tournament?
5. Kansas Jayhawks, Connecticut Huskies, Louisville Cardinals
All three of these powerful college basketball programs have won the NCAA championship on three separate occasions. All three of these schools have won the NCAA tournament within the last six years with Louisville being the most recent, as they came into this year’s tournament as the defending champs.
Connecticut is the only of these schools to have the same head coach for all of their championships. Jim Calhoun led the Huskies to NCAA championships in 1999, 2004, and 2011. Prior to their championships in 2013 and 2008, Louisville and Kansas had not won a title since the 1980’s.
4. Duke Blue Devils
Duke University has been regarded as one of the five most successful basketball schools in the NCAA for more than 20 years. One of the main reasons for this high praise is their head coach, Mike Krzyzewski. Since taking over as head coach of the Blue Devils in 1980, Krzyzewki has led Duke to 12 NCAA Final Four appearances and 4 NCAA championships.
In 2011, Coach K surpassed his former coach, Bob Knight, for the most wins in the history NCAA division I basketball. Krzyzewski also led the US men’s Olympic basketball team to back-to-back gold medals in 2008 and 2012. Despite their early exit in this year’s tournament, there is no doubt that Duke will be back next year.
3. North Carolina Tar Heels and Indiana Hoosiers
The North Carolina Tar Heels have won five NCAA championships and have had iconic head coaches and future NBA stars throughout their school’s history. In 1982, North Carolina was fortunate enough to have both legendary head coach Dean Smith, and NBA Hall-of-Famer, Michael Jordan. This pairing culminated into Jordan hitting the game winning shot to give North Carolina the 1982 NCAA championship over Georgetown.
Smith coached North Carolina from 1961-1997, where he led the school to eleven Final Four appearances and two of their five national titles. In 2003 Roy Williams took over head coaching duties for North Carolina and went on to win national titles in 2005 and 2009.
Like the Tar Heels, the Indiana Hoosiers have won five NCAA championships in their school’s history. Although Indiana did not even qualify for this year’s NCAA tournament, the Hoosier’s were the last school to have a team go undefeated in the regular season as well as the NCAA national tournament. In 1976 the Bob Knight led Hoosiers went 32-0 in the regular season and went on win the national title. Knight was the head coach of Indiana for three of the team’s five championships.
2. Kentucky Wildcats
The Kentucky Wildcats have had five different coaches lead them to eight national championships. John Calipari took them there most recently in 2012, while Adolph Rupp coached Kentucky to four championships between 1948 and 1958.
Current Louisville head coach, Rick Pitino also won a national title with Kentucky in 1996.This year’s Kentucky Wildcats will be playing in the sweet sixteen after upsetting the number one-seeded Wichita State Shockers.
The UCLA Bruins have won an astonishing 11 NCAA titles. Much of this success is due to the work and effort of one of the greatest coaches in the history of basketball, John Wooden. Wooden coached UCLA from 1948-1975, and won a staggering 10 championships in 12 years. Wooden and the Bruins dominated college basketball for over a decade and won seven consecutive national titles from 1967-1973.
The one NCAA championship for UCLA that was not won with John Wooden at the helm was in 1995 under Jim Harrick. UCLA will be looking to add to their historic of championships when they take on number ranked Florida in the round of 16.
These are the eight most successful basketball schools in the history of the NCAA. Though some have more recent success, and others have a storied history, they are all the royalty of men’s college basketball.
Commentary By Eric Kummel