The best basketball schools weren’t made overnight. They don’t make Cinderella runs through the NCAA tournament only to go back into obscurity. No, the best basketball programs in the country are teams that have a history built on excellence and a future similarly bright. Whether it’s a future Hall of Fame coach or a string of impressive recruiting classes, these schools are built to succeed in the long run — not one miracle run. And they do. While there are some good teams that just missed this list (not a result of bias), here are the NCAA’s 10 best basketball programs.
It’s difficult to think of UCLA basketball without associating it with Hall of Fame coach John Wooden. Wooden turned the Bruins into a college basketball dynasty second to none, winning 10 national championships in a 12-year stretch between 1963 and 1975. Four times he recorded undefeated seasons — this has also never been matched. But after he retired in 1975, UCLA didn’t win another title until 1995 under then-coach Jim Harrick. That would be the last championship banner for the storied Bruins.
In the mid-2000s, UCLA had a few very good teams that failed to bring home the goods. In 2007, for example, the Bruins’ roster featured future NBA All-Stars Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and Darren Collison, yet they still managed to come up short (falling to Memphis in the Final Four).
It’s the many disappointments over the past decade that have hindered the status of the program. While UCLA is certainly an elite program in a favorable location, the team needs more consistency in its players and coaches to join the ranks of the Kentuckys and Dukes of the NCAA.