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Daniel Wilco | November 6, 2018

The college basketball teams with the most national championships

Getty Images UCLA 1995 championship UCLA's 1995 championship was the Bruins' 11th in program history — the most of any team.

There are currently 353 schools in Division I basketball. Yet only 15 teams have won multiple national championships. UCLA, with 11, comes in first. But which schools are close behind?

There are seven teams tied for ninth place at two championships apiece. Cincinnati (1961, 1962), Florida (2006, 2007), Louisville (1980, 1986), Michigan State (1979, 2000), North Carolina State (1974, 1983), Oklahoma State (1945, 1946), and San Francisco (1955, 1956). Interestingly enough, four of those teams won their two championships in back to back years.

Here is the rest of the Top 10:

T7: Kansas — 3

Years: 1952, 1988, 2008

Kansas 2008 championship Kansas' 2008 championship

While they have won thrice, the Jayhawks have the worst championship game win percentage of any team with more than three appearances, going 3-for-9 over the program’s history.

T7: Villanova — 3

Years: 1985, 2016, 2018

Villanova Wildcat players reflect on Kris Jenkins' game-winner

Villanova knows how to win a championship in style. The Wildcats’ first title still holds the record for the lowest-seeded team to win the NCAA tournament, as 8-seed Villanova upset mighty 1-seed Georgetown in 1985. In 2016, Kris Jenkins etched his name into March lore with a half-court buzzer-beater to down North Carolina. And in 2018, junior guard Donte DiVincenzo won the MOP after scoring 31 points off the bench as the Wildcats won their second in three years.

6: Connecticut — 4

Years: 1999, 2004, 2011, 2014

Connecticut is tied with Duke and North Carolina for the most national championships this century, but there’s a much more prestigious record the Huskies hold. UConn has been to four championship games and has won every time. No other team with at least three appearances is undefeated in title games.

T4: Indiana — 5

Years: 1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987

Indiana’s first two championships came via a former player in Branch McCracken. McCracken graduated from Indiana in 1930, and took over the coaching job in 1938-39. In his second year, he led the Hoosiers to a 20-3 season capped off by a 60-42 win over Kansas in just the second national championship game ever. Seven years after McCracken’s tenure ended, Bob Knight would take over in Bloomington. Knight’s first championship with Indiana in 1976 came on the end of a 32-0 season — the last perfect season by a national champion. 

T4: Duke — 5

Years: 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015

All five of Duke’s championships come after 1981. Why is that an important date? It’s the first season Mike Krzyzewski took over in Durham. Before Coach K, Duke had been to two title games, losing to UCLA in 1964 and Kentucky in 1978. Since, they’ve been to nine, winning five, and holding the record for the most championships since 1990.

3: North Carolina — 6

Years: 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009, 2017

In 1957, a year after Bill Russell and San Francisco went 29-0 to win the national championship, fifth-year coach Frank McGuire led North Carolina to the second-ever undefeated national championship season in NCAA tournament history. The Tar Heels wouldn’t make it back to the championship game until 1968, in Dean Smith’s seventh year in Chapel Hill. It was the second of three straight Final Four trips without a title, but Smith’s first (and UNC’s second) would come in 1982, thanks to a roster of James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and Michael Jordan. Smith would win one more title in 1993. All three of UNC’s other championships came from his protégé, Roy Williams.

2: Kentucky — 8

Years: 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998, 2012

In the middle of the 20th century, long before they became famous for their team’s youth, Kentucky was a powerhouse. Adolph Rupp started at Kentucky in 1930-31, but it wasn’t until his 18th season, in 1948, that the Wildcats would win the program’s first NCAA tournament title. They’d repeat in 1949, and pick up two more before Rupp retired. Since, four different coaches have won a title with Kentucky: Joe B. Hall in 1978, Rick Pitino in 1996, Tubby Smith in 1998, and John Calipari in 2012.

1: UCLA — 11

Years: 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1995

In all of college sports, it doesn't get much better than UCLA's reign through the ‘60s and ‘70s. From 1964 to 1975, UCLA had an overall record of 335-22, a win percentage of .938. Over 12 years. Through it all, the Bruins picked up 10 national championships, including seven in a row — feats that will never be replicated.

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