Best Colleges In Basketball

Last Updated on December 20, 2022 by

College basketball is extremely competitive. Yet, for many high school-aged fans or players, a good basketball team is vital to the overall college experience.

One of the great aspects of college basketball is its rich sense of history and tradition. Many schools throughout the sport’s history have created unforgettable moments or set incredible records that help give each basketball program its own history and culture.

Right here on Collegelearners, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on best colleges in basketball, best women’s college basketball teams, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.

Best Colleges In Basketball

Every year in March, the best men’s college basketball teams from across the country battle for the national championship in the single-elimination NCAA tournament. One of the most exciting sporting events in the world, the tournament is nicknamed “March Madness” for the frenzy created among fans.

For aspiring basketball recruits, the best men’s college basketball programs provide an opportunity to be part of a special journey and increase their odds at a career in the sport. For students and fans, these teams offer incredibly entertaining extracurricular and viewing experiences.

To provide insight on the best programs, the following page ranks the best men’s college basketball teams in the country. We considered various factors, including overall winning percentage, conference championships, NCAA tournament appearances, tournament wins, and players who reach the NBA.

University of Kentucky

With eight national championships, the most recent in 2012, the University of Kentucky is the best men’s college basketball program in the nation. In school history, UK has made 57 NCAA tournament appearances, putting together a .711 winning percentage and making the Final Four 17 times.

The program also boasts 52 first-round NBA picks, including three first overall selections in Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015, Anthony Davis in 2012, and John Wall in 2010.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Among the best men’s college basketball teams in the country, the Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill boast an overall winning percentage of .739. In addition to 32 first-place finishes in the ACC conference, the team has made 20 Final Four appearances and brought home six championships, including titles in 2005, 2009, and 2017.

Of the 51 NBA first-round picks who played for the Tar Heels, two went first overall: James Worthy in 1982 and Brad Daugherty in 1986.

University of Kansas

Kansas University won the last of its three NCAA championships in 2008, but the school’s 15 Final Four appearances and .697 tournament winning percentage help make KU one of the best men’s college basketball programs. The team has produced 32 NBA first-round picks, including first overall Danny Manning in 1988 and Andrew Wiggins in 2014.

Other notable alumni include Wilt Chamberlain, Paul Pierce, and Joel Embiid.

Duke University

Appearing in the NCAA tournament 43 times, the Duke University Blue Devils have won five titles, including most recent wins in 2001, 2010, and 2015. Coach Mike Krzyzewski, or “Coach K,” is one of the most respected coaches in the history of college basketball. Duke has produced 48 NBA first-round picks, including four first overall picks like Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson.

University of Connecticut

Since 1999, the University of Connecticut has made five Final Four appearances and won four titles, good enough to make them one of the best men’s college basketball teams in the nation. In its history, UConn boasts 33 NCAA tournament appearances and a .637 overall winning percentage.

The UConn Huskies have also seen 20 players get picked in the first round of the NBA draft, including star players Ray Allen, Kemba Walker, and Andre Drummond.

Syracuse University

Long considered one of the best men’s college basketball programs, Syracuse University has put up a .687 winning percentage over 120 seasons, including 38 appearances in the NCAA tournament, six trips to the Final Four, and a national title in 2003. The Orange boast 24 NBA first-round picks, including the 1990 first overall pick, Derrick Coleman, and NBA star Carmelo Anthony.

University of California, Los Angeles

Though not a major powerhouse in recent years, the University of California, Los Angeles has amassed a .687 overall winning percentage and 49 NCAA tournament appearances. The Bruins have made 18 Final Fours and won 11 titles, the most in all of men’s college basketball.

UCLA also boasts 39 NBA first-round picks, including two legendary first overall picks, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. UCLA’s former coach John Wooden is arguably the most famous coach in the history of college basketball.

Villanova University

One of the best men’s college basketball programs in the nation, Villanova University has posted a .657 winning percentage over more than 100 seasons, along with 39 appearances in the NCAA tournament, 61 wins, six trips to the Final Four, and three championships, including titles in 2016 and 2018.

The Wildcats have produced 15 NBA first-round picks, including three in 2018: Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, and Omari Spellman.

Michigan State University

Over 122 seasons, the Michigan State University Spartans have managed a .612 winning percentage and made 33 NCAA tournament appearances, including 10 trips to the Final Four. The Spartans also boast 69 wins in the NCAA tournament, two national titles, and 21 first-round selections, including former first overall pick and legendary Los Angeles Lakers point guard Magic Johnson.

University of Arizona

Despite only winning a single national title in 1997, the University of Arizona is still one of the best men’s college basketball programs. Over 116 seasons, the Wildcats have earned a .658 winning percentage, 26 conference titles, 35 NCAA tournament appearances, and four Final Four appearances.

The Wildcats have produced 22 players selected in the first round of the NBA draft, including Deandre Ayton, the first overall pick in 2018.

University of Virginia

Despite being known for losing in perhaps the biggest upset in NCAA history in 2018, the University of Virginia has developed one of the best men’s college basketball programs. The Cavaliers have compiled a .584 winning percentage, making 23 NCAA tournament appearances. Since 2016, UVA has become a powerhouse under coach Tony Bennett, making two Final Four appearances and winning the 2019 title.

Additionally, 12 Cavaliers have been selected in the first round of the NBA draft, including Ralph Sampson, the first overall pick in 1983.

University of Louisville

The University of Louisville Cardinals have managed a .666 overall winning percentage, 43 NCAA tournament appearances, 10 Final Four appearances, and two titles, along with a vacated championship from 2013. The Cardinals have posted 61 wins in the NCAA tournament and have produced 24 first-round NBA picks, including current Utah Jazz star point guard Donovan Mitchell.

Gonzaga University

In 70 seasons, the Gonzaga University Bulldogs have put up a .655 winning percentage along the way to winning 18 conference championships, making 22 NCAA tournament appearances, and reaching one Final Four. Gonzaga has produced nine NBA first-round picks, including legendary Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton and two first-round picks in the 2019 draft.

University of Michigan

Despite winning just one national title in 1989, the University of Michigan still ranks as one of the best men’s college basketball programs. Boasting a 104-year team history and a .608 winning percentage, the Wolverines have made 29 NCAA tournament and eight Final Four appearances.

U-M has also churned out 27 first-round picks, including first overall picks Cazzie Russell and Chris Webber. The Wolverines are perhaps best known for their “Fab Five” team, which started five freshmen during the 1991-1992 season

University of Texas

The University of Texas Longhorns boast an overall winning percentage of .622, along with 34 NCAA tournament appearances, three Final Four appearances, and 17 conference championships. The Longhorns have also produced 18 first-round picks in the NBA draft, including LaMarcus Aldridge, Tristan Thompson, and Kevin Durant.

How Many NCAA Men’s College Basketball Teams Are There?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association serves nearly 1,100 schools across the country, with teams divided within three divisions and more than 100 conferences. The 350 best men’s college basketball teams play within Division I and are split among 32 conferences.

Each year, the team that wins their conference championship gets an automatic entry into the NCAA tournament, with the remaining 36 teams chosen by a selection committee. The NCAA tournament takes place each March and uses a single-elimination format to narrow the field to a Final Four and then a national championship game.

Do College Basketball Players Get Paid?

In an effort to protect the recruitment process and level the playing field for smaller schools, the NCAA made it illegal for men’s college basketball teams to pay student athletes for their services. Colleges can provide students with scholarships and stipends, but those funds must only cover the costs of earning an education.

In 2020, however, the NCAA Board of Governors supported a shift in the rules that would allow student athletes to profit off of their name and likeness. Under the new ruling, players would be able to make money as long as the funds do not come from the school.

What Percentage of Men’s College Basketball Players Go to the NBA?

With nearly 500,000 student athletes in the NCAA system across all sports, the odds of a basketball player reaching the NBA remain very low. Since there are fewer players on each NBA team than in other sports, the odds of getting drafted in the NBA are lower than in the MLB, NHL, and NFL.

In men’s college basketball, nearly 19,000 student athletes participate, with over 4,000 players becoming NBA draft eligible. Each year, only 60 players get drafted. While some players sign with teams as undrafted free agents, it is still very difficult to earn a roster spot in the NBA.

Best Women’s College Basketball Teams

Women’s basketball is dominated by a handful of extremely talented teams. Our rankings consider team unity, a successful coach and talented players.

NCAA March Madness brings together the best women’s college basketball teams in the country, all vying for the national championship and the right to showcase their talents on the big stage. For aspiring basketball stars, attending one of the top schools for women’s basketball dramatically improves the odds of making it to the WNBA. Additionally, other students who attend these schools get the pleasure of watching and cheering for a top team.

This page looks at the best women’s college basketball teams nationwide, highlighting what makes them great. To determine this ranking, we considered many factors, including NCAA championships, Final Four appearances, team wins, winning percentage, and success at the WNBA draft — specifically in the first round. While team history plays a large role, recent success weighs more heavily in the ranking.

University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut has boasted one of the best women’s college basketball teams over the last two decades. Though the team won its first national title in 1995, its championship in 2000 kicked off a remarkable 10 titles in 16 seasons. Between 2014 and 2017, the team won 111 consecutive games. The UConn Huskies have also churned out 25 first-round WNBA picks — 10 more than the next-best team.

University of Tennessee – Knoxville

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville stakes its claim as one of the best women’s college basketball teams by posting more wins than any other school and an .801 winning percentage. The Volunteers have won eight NCAA championships, including back-to-back victories in 2007 and 2008. UT Knoxville players have gone on to be selected in the first round of the WNBA draft 15 times, which only ranks behind UConn.

Baylor University

Its three national titles, including championships in 2005, 2012, and 2019, put Baylor University squarely in the ranking of the best women’s college basketball teams. In addition to 10 conference championships, the school boasts a .661 winning percentage and has reached the Final Four four times. At the WNBA draft, eight Bears have gone on to be selected in the first round — seventh-most among all colleges.

Stanford University

In addition to winning NCAA championships in 1990 and 1992, Stanford University boasts the fifth-most wins in collegiate basketball, along with a .766 winning percentage. Ranked among the top three women’s college basketball teams going into the 2020-21 season, Stanford looks to return to the Final Four for the 14th time in team history — the third most of all time. The school has produced 12 first-round picks in the WNBA draft, which also ranks third-best overall.

University of Notre Dame

Boasting one of the best women’s college basketball teams, the University of Notre Dame has a .750 winning percentage and almost 1,000 wins. The school also holds two national titles. From 2011-2019, the school appeared in all but two Final Fours, bringing its overall total to nine appearances. Ten Fighting Irish players have been selected in the first round of the WNBA draft.

University of Maryland, College Park

In 2006, the University of Maryland, College Park won a thrilling game in overtime to capture its first NCAA title in team history. UMD would return to the Final Four two more times, in 2014 and 2015, bringing its total national semifinal appearances to five. The Terrapins also rank among the best women’s college basketball teams due to the program’s more than 1,000 wins, .701 winning percentage, and development of eight first-round picks.

University of South Carolina

Winning the NCAA championship in 2017, the University of South Carolina has secured a spot as one of the best women’s college basketball teams in the country. Though March Madness was canceled in 2020, the school was set to enter the tournament as the top seed. UofSC has also produced seven first-round picks in the WNBA draft, ranking in the top 10 among all women’s college basketball teams.

Duke University

Despite never winning an NCAA title, Duke University makes the ranking of the best women’s college basketball teams because of the program’s consistency through the years. Since 1999, Duke has made the Final Four four times. The Blue Devils made the finals in 1999 and 2006 (which they lost in overtime). This college basketball powerhouse has produced 11 first-round picks, which ranks fourth on the all-time list.

Mississippi State University

A relative newcomer to the ranks of the best women’s college basketball teams, Mississippi State University has made recent noise on the national stage, making back-to-back NCAA finals in 2017 and 2018 (losing both games). MSU looks to return to the Final Four for the third time in team history in 2020-21, ranking fifth in the nation heading into the season. At the WNBA draft, five Bulldogs have been selected in the first round, including the third pick in 2019.

University of Louisville

The University of Louisville earns a spot among the best women’s college basketball teams on the basis of three trips to the NCAA Final Four in 2009, 2013, and 2018. The Cardinals finished sixth in the national rankings in the shortened 2019-20 season, maintaining that rank heading into the 2020-21 season. UofL has also performed well at the WNBA draft, watching four players get chosen in the first round, including the first overall selection in 2009.

Louisiana Tech University

Despite not making the Final Four since 1999, Louisiana Tech University has a history that cannot be denied. Louisiana Tech won the first-ever NCAA title in women’s college basketball in 1982 (and another in 1988), appeared in the finals six times, and reached the Final Four 10 times. Additionally, the team sits third among the best women’s college basketball teams in wins, with over 1,100 total victories and a .769 winning percentage.

Louisiana State University and A&M College

Louisiana State University’s women’s college basketball team has never won the NCAA championship, but it has made the Final Four on five occasions, which is tied for the sixth-most Final Four appearances of all time. All five of those appearances came between 2004-2008, representing one of the most dominant runs in NCAA basketball history. LSU has also developed seven first-round WNBA picks.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The 1994 championship winner, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill boasts one of the best women’s college basketball teams due to its nearly 1,000 wins and a .680 winning percentage. The Tar Heels also made the Final Four in back-to-back years in 2006 and 2007. At the WNBA draft, UNC-Chapel Hill players have been selected in the first round nine times, which is the sixth-most of all time.

University of Oregon

After losing a heartbreaking game in the 2019 Final Four, the University of Oregon made another claim as one of the best women’s college basketball teams in 2020, securing the second seed in the country before the NCAA tournament was canceled. Entering the 2020-21 season, the Ducks rank ninth and look to build on the 2019-20 season, which saw three UO players selected in the first eight picks of the WNBA draft.

University of Oklahoma

Rounding out the list of the best women’s college basketball teams, the University of Oklahoma has made three trips to the Final Four, including a loss in the 2002 final and back-to-back national semifinal losses in 2009 and 2010. The team also captured the Big 12 conference championship eight times, including seven times between 2000 and 2009. On the WNBA draft floor, OU has developed five first-round picks.

How Many NCAA Women’s College Basketball Teams Are There?

The NCAA features more than 350 women’s college basketball teams in Division I, which is the division that plays for the national championship during March Madness. Across all three divisions, there are nearly 1,100 school teams and over 100 conferences, including 32 conferences in Division I.

For entry into the NCAA national tournament, 32 of the 64 teams receive a spot by winning their conference tournament. The remaining 32 teams receive spots via at-large bids — bids that members of the NCAA selection committee vote on based on a team’s performance throughout the season. The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament was first played after the 1981-82 regular season.

Do College Basketball Players Get Paid?

Traditionally, women’s college basketball players in the NCAA do not receive pay for their play on the court. This ensures that all colleges enjoy an equal opportunity during the player recruitment process. Schools can and do provide scholarship funding and financial support for educational purposes.

The NCAA Board of Governors did, however, support a new ruling that would allow NCAA student-athletes to receive financial benefits from external sources under certain conditions. For example, they can profit off of their name and likeness, but they still cannot receive money directly schools.

What Percentage of Women’s College Basketball Players Go to the WNBA?

While some women’s college basketball players do go on to play professional basketball in the WNBA, the odds of that happening actually sit lower than any of the other major sports leagues, including the NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL.

According to numbers reported by the NCAA, more than 16,500 women play NCAA basketball each year, but only approximately 3,600 are draft eligible. Additionally, during the WNBA draft, only about 31 women get selected from that NCAA pool. That means roughly 0.8% of eligible players get drafted.