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Which of These 7 College Basketball Powerhouses Is the Most Prestigious? [POLL]

Duke, UCLA, Indiana
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We are smack in the middle of the phenomenon known as March Madness where the titans of the sport duke (not Duke) it out for the title of national champion, as a field of 68 will be whittled down to one.

College basketball has more than its fair share of programs rich in tradition, but have you ever stopped to figure out which one is the best? It’s more difficult than trying to spot the difference between a block and a charge, but it definitely makes for spirited debate.

The following schools have won a staggering number of national championships and have been home to an even more staggering number of All-Americans. So, which program is the most prestigious? Is it based on titles? Final Four appearances? Head coaching accomplishments? There’s no single answer, so we’ll present some evidence and let you make the call.

UCLA

UCLA
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National titles: 11
National runners-up: 2
Final Fours: 18
Notable Players: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Reggie Miller, Sidney Wicks, Bill Walton, Ed O’Bannon
The Bruins set the gold standard with 11 national titles including an astounding seven in a row between 1967-1973 under legendary coach John Wooden, who still casts a long shadow in Westwood. UCLA dominated in the ’60s and ’70s, but the Bruins haven’t won a national championship in 20 years, which constitutes a long drought for this fan base, although they did go to three straight Final Fours within the last decade. UCLA also holds the record most consecutive weeks ranked — 221 between 1966 and 1980.

Kansas

Kansas
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National titles: 3
National runners-up: 6
Final Fours: 14
Notable Players: Wilt Chamberlain, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce, Clyde Lovellette
In terms of history, KU has some roots that are tough to top. The Jayhawks were once coached by the man who invented basketball, James Naismith. The school has won three national titles and has more than 2,100 all-time victories, second most all-time. They’re enjoyed 95 winning seasons and won the most conference championships in history (57) — both Division 1 records.

Duke

Duke
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National titles: 4
National runners-up: 6
Final Fours: 15
Notable Players: Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Dick Groat
Duke may be the most polarizing school in this argument simply because people either love or hate the Durham, NC university. The Blue Devils have four national championships and the game’s winningest coach, Mike Krzyzewski, continues to roam the sidelines. Eleven national player of the year awards have gone to Blue Devils. Along with rival North Carolina, the school has also won the ACC regular season title a record 19 times.

North Carolina

North Carolina
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National titles: 5
National runners-up: 4
Final Fours: 18
Notable Players: Michael Jordan, Phil Ford, Vince Carter, James Worthy
Where there’s Duke, North Carolina isn’t far behind. Winners of five national titles, the Tar Heels’ longtime coach, Dean Smith, played for Phog Allen at Kansas, who was coached by Naismith, giving UNC a direct link to the game’s creation. UNC owns the record with 27 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances between 1975-2001 (Kansas could tie that next year). The Tar Heels won at least 20 games for 31 straight seasons from 1970-2001 (a record) and were the second program to reach 2,000 all-time wins. Along with UCLA, North Carolina has participated in a record 18 Finals Fours.

Kentucky

Kentucky
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National titles: 8
National runners-up: 4
Notable Players: Alex Groza, Pat Riley, Jack Givens, Jamal Mashburn
Final Fours: 16
John Calipari now oversees a Wildcats program that has more wins than any school in history (2,176 as of this writing) and leads in winning percentage. It has eight national titles, trailing only UCLA and is the only program with more than one NCAA and NIT title. It’s also the only school to win a national championship with five different coaches and leads all schools with 54 NCAA Tournament appearances. It has more NCAA Tournament wins than any other teams (118 as of this writing).

Indiana

Indiana
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National titles: 5
National runners-up: 1
Final Fours: 8
Notable Players: Scott May, Calbert Cheaney, Quinn Buckner, Steve Alford, Isiah Thomas
The Hoosiers have five national titles (third most all-time) and its 1976 team went undefeated — the last team to do so. Many pundits argue that it’s the greatest college team to ever play the game. Bob Knight enjoyed a record-setting run, picking up three national titles and, at the time of his retirement, he held the record for most career wins by a head coach, a mark since surpassed by Krzyzewski, whom he coached while at Army. IU has claimed 21 Big 10 titles and have made 38 tournament appearances, good for seventh all-time.

Connecticut

Connecticut
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National titles: 4
National runners-up: 0
Final Fours: 5
Notable Players: Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Kemba Walker, Shabazz Napier, Tate George
UConn’s domination does not go back nearly as far as other schools on this list, but its recent history may be the best. The Huskies have four national championships, all since 1999. A regional power in the ‘60s and ‘70s, UConn didn’t truly become a national threat until Jim Calhoun arrived in Storrs in 1986. He put the the Huskies on the map, making the school a yearly threat to go deep in March and producing NBA players seemingly at will.

 

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