Legends in the Making: The Best Men’s College Basketball Programs of All Time

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One of the best things about college basketball is that it actually has playoffs to determine a champion. No coaches poll, no computers, no group of bitter sportswriters with an agenda to choose a champion, and no bowl games.You play in a bracket until the last team is standing, whether it’s from one of the big conferences or a smaller one,which drives everyone crazy. When determining which teams are the Greatest Men’s College Basketball Programs of all-time, it’s easy because part of the criteria is on how many championships they have, because they have a playoff! But championships aren’t all that make a program great. It’s a tradition of running a clean program, winning, great coaches, players, as well as class and the few players who actually go. So here are the Top 5 Greatest Men’s College Basketball Programs of All Time.

5 Kansas – First Season 1898

The Jayhawks are second only to Kentucky in all time wins, and have three national championships, six times a runner up and 14 Final Four appearances. Kansas also has the most winning seasons in Division I history with 93. Rest assured, there will be a 94th, 95th, 96th, 97th and more winning seasons to come as the Jayhawks will keep on winning and producing some of the greatest player in the country for a long time to come. Kansas’ first coach was James Naismith who happened to invent the sport of basketball.He is also, unfortunately, the only losing coach in the school’s history. Kansas is also the school responsible for producing one of the greatest players and biggest exaggerators when it comes to bragging about one’s sexual exploits in history in Wilt Chamberlain.

4 North Carolina – First Season 1910

Top 5 could get into a lot of trouble for ranking the Tar Heels so low. After all, they were voted as the number one most successful men’s college basketball program in the last 50 years by ESPN. But someone has to be ranked third, right? And if it weren’t for those classy kids at Duke, the Tar Heels would be ranked higher. But you can’t overlook the five national championships, four runner ups and 18 Final Four appearances. The Tar Heels have been rankednumber one more times than any school in the nation. They also turned out a ton of great assistant coaches who went on to the big time, as well as a ton of great players. Probably the most famous is a guy by the name of Michael Jordan, who was a pretty good college player in his day and sold a whole bunch of shoes for Nike while playing in the NBA.

3 Kentucky – First Season 1903

The Wildcats play their games in the largest arena in the United States — the 23,500-seat Rupp Arena. That’s huge for a state full of hillbillies and moonshiners, but most of them turn out in drives as the Wildcats regularly lead the nation in attendance. Is that what makes them great? Yeah. That and the eight national championships, three runner ups, 15 Final Four appearances, 56 seasons of 20-plus wins, and 13 times winning 30 games or more.Kentucky is the only school to win national championships with five different coaches (Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith and John Calipari). Winning less than 20 games a season at Kentucky is likely to get a coach fired.

2 Duke – First Season 1905

The Blue Devils have been one of college basketball’s greatest programs over the past 30 years, and that’s saying a lot considering that they play in the traditionally competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. The Blue Devils are only second to UCLA in appearances as the number one team in the nation in weekly polls. This seems to be the program people love to hate because of its squeaky clean image, its squeaky clean players and squeaky clean coach. All they do is win, win, win (four championships in all with six runner ups, and 15 Final Four appearances), send players to the NBAand make life miserable for their arch rivals down the tobacco road at the University of North Carolina. Rumor has it that players at Duke actually go to class and graduate, too.

1 UCLA – First Season 1920

From 1949-75 the Bruins never had a bad season and exploded in the 1960 and early 1970s winning a record 10 national championships, including nine straight — a record that no one will likely ever break. Year after year the Bruins turn out players who would go on to stardom in the NBA,winning more titles and eventually the Hall of Fame. Although they’ve only won one title since the late legendary coach John Wooden retired, the Bruins are the gold standard in men’s college basketball. And let’s face it! Where would you rather play college basketball? In Westwood, California near the beach and the entertainment capital of the world or in some frozen wasteland in the Midwest or Northeast?
Indiana – First Season 1900
If you overlook the nutty coach who was always yelling and throwing chairs, when you think college basketball in the Midwest, the Indiana Hoosiers usually come to mind. Four national championships, one runner up and eight Final Four appearances beg for distinction. Indiana also has the honor of being the last men’s college basketball team to run the table with an undefeated season in 1976. Plus, Indiana is big in the money department, too. A recent study has it ranked as the third most valuable program in the country.

Syracuse – First Season 1900
Winning its only title in 2003 with two second place finishes and just four Final Four appearances, the Orangemen currently have the nation’s longest streak of winning seasons with 42, which is an NCAA record. There will be more wins to come as they move to the Atlantic Coast Conference and take on slobs such as North Carolina and Duke.

Temple – First Season 1894
The Owls are the only team here that so far has not won a national title or even reached the finals, though they won the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) twice in 1938 and 1969. The Owls have only two Final Four Appearances in 1956 and 1958. But going into the 2012-13 season, Temple is ranked sixth all-time in wins with 1,766. That’s more wins than some elite programs have amassed, including UCLA, Indiana and Louisville.

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