March Madness History: All-time List of NCAA Champions – Mens Basketball

NCAA Champions - Mens BasketballNow that we have exhausted all of the major conference tournaments (sorry Conference USA but you have one team, so you didn’t qualify) as a source of March Madness history, it is time to turn our attention to the NCAA Tournament in the first installment of what I have decided to call, in an impromptu burst of creativity, March Madness History.

This will be a fun series for me to research and write, however, because I can relive the glory days of Indiana basketball — that wonderful time when a 1-17 conference record would have been deemed a complete impossibility. As this year proved, however, even the most incomprehensible collapse of a once proud program is possible with the perfect storm of catastrophic player departures and recruiting scandals. All of us IU fans are clinging to the optimism that it was just a one year blip and that Tom Crean will have us back competitive again next year.

Because, you see, while the IU program took a big hit this season, the IU tradition is still alive and strong; and the reason for that is IU’s splendid history of NCAA Tournament excellence. No, Indiana has not been a great tournament team over the past 15 years (except for that awesome 2002 run), but between 1973 and 1993 there were few teams who could match IU in postseason success. The table below, which lists the schools with the most NCAA Mens Basketball Championships, is proof positive of this.

Let’s get to the table and then analyze a bit. First, a few relevant NCAA Tournament links (some of which have not been posted yet, but will be), especially if you are planning on attending any of the tournament games this year:

The following table provides an ordered list of NCAA Champions in mens college basketball from most to least. It includes the number of titles for each school that has won at least one, and the years in which those titles were captured. I actually included this table at the bottom of a previous post, but figured it deserved its own. Here you go:

NCAA Champions - Mens Basketball

School Number of NCAA Titles Years
UCLA 11 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1995
Kentucky 7 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998
Indiana 5 1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987
North Carolina 5 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009
Duke 3 1991, 1992, 2001
Kansas 3 1952, 1988, 2008
Cincinnati 2 1961, 1962
UCONN 2 1999, 2004
Florida 2 2006, 2007
Louisville 2 1980, 1986
Michigan State 2 1979, 2000
N.C. State 2 1974, 1983
Oklahoma State 2 1945, 1946
San Francisco 2 1955, 1956
Arizona 1 1997
Arkansas 1 1994
California 1 1959
CCNY 1 1950
Georgetown 1 1984
Holy Cross 1 1947
LaSalle 1 1954
Loyala (IL) 1 1963
Marquette 1 1977
Maryland 1 2002
Michigan 1 1989
Ohio State 1 1960
Oregon 1 1939
Stanford 1 1942
Syracuse 1 2003
UNLV 1 1990
Texas Western (UTEP) 1 1966
Utah 1 1944
Villanova 1 1985
Wisconsin 1 1941
Wyoming 1 1943

Obviously, for me, the best part about this NCAA Champions table is the school in third place: Indiana. The Hoosiers have won as many titles as the rest of the Big 10 combined. The Big 10 needs to get a move on or it could get shut out this decade. Michigan State closed the 90s by winning the 1999-2000 championship, but it has been bupkus ever since for the conference.

North Carolina actually has a pretty good shot to tie the Hoosiers with their fifth championship if the Tar Heels can D up in the tournament. They certainly have the talent to win it all and will likely enter the 2009 NCAA Tournament as the #1 overall seed.

We know one thing: Kentucky won’t be adding to their total any time soon.

UCLA obviously has the most impressive historical resume of any school in the country — by a long shot. And the Bruins have reached three straight Final Fours, but have been unable to close the deal. It appears that UCLA is not good enough to make the Final Four this year, but stranger things have certainly happened. It still boggles my mind to look at their dominance in the 60s and early 70s. Just an amazing run, led by native Hoosier (but collegiate Boilermaker) John Wooden.NCAA Champions - Mens Basketball

Kansas joined the rarified air of 3-time NCAA Champions with their title last year. UConn, Louisville, and Michigan State all have two, but could stretch that number to three in this year’s tournament. I think there is a good chance that San Francisco will be sitting on their two titles for a long, long time in the future…

Out of the NCAA Champions in the Top 6, Indiana is obviously the furthest away from claiming another title based on our performance this season. However, Hoosier fans can take solace in that fact that each of the five other schools has dealt with periods of turmoil and struggle to rebound and become national powers once again. If Indiana is to hang a sixth banner in Assembly Hall, it will have to follow a similar path.

Hopefully Tom Crean is leading us on a path to do just that.

Update: Get ready for this year’s NCAA Tournament with our March Madness 2010 preview post.

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. It’s going to be a long while before anyone catches up to Coach Wooden’s contributions to UCLA’s record. But even more impressive than that, is how the State of California holds 15 national championships by three different schools in a period of only 53 years! That’s a Championship every 3.5 years! Incredible! However, the surprise is the State'(s) which holds the second most NCAA National Championships after California. At first I figured it must be Kentucky, which in fact I found to be correct. The State of Kentucky currently holds 9 NCAA National titles; seven with UK, and 2 through Louisville. BUT,… Kentucky does not hold that second position alone. They are tied in the second position with North Carolina. Tobacco Road also holds 9 NCAA National Titles; 4 through UNC, 3 with Duke, and 2 from NC State. If UNC is capable of taking the title this year, they will be in sole position, ahead of Kentucky, as the State with the second most NCAA National men’s college basketball Championships, with 10 titles. Kentucky would follow with 9; then Indiana with its 5 titles; Michigan with 4; Kansas and Ohio with 3 titles each; and Pennsylvania with 2 Championships by two private colleges in the Philadelphia area, LaSalle and Villanova. Connecticut, Florida, and Oklahoma round out the last of the States with two titles. Good luck to the Tar Heels, there going to need it!

  2. Miller Wilson says:

    “We know one thing: Kentucky won’t be adding to their total any time soon.” WTF? Do you even follow basketball? Please remind me which team had the number one recruting class this year? Who has the new coaching hotness? Finally, who wrote such an asinine remark?

  3. Miller Wilson says:

    Roy, with all due respect, I don’t know many people who care that much about titles in states. UK is number two on the list, period.

  4. As a resident of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I’d like to say that we don’t really like to count Louisville. So we’ll just count our 7 and be number 2 overall. We also have more wins than any other team in ncaa history, UK2K!!!!!! And were just gonna keep gaining on UCLA until we eventually overtake them. And for the author of this post, i’m sorry your an indiana fan. Cause we gotta saying down here in the Bluegrass. Our tree’s tip to the north because indiana sucks!!!!
    Go Cats 2010!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. There were national champions before the ncaa tournament started in 1939, in fact Wisconsin was nat. champ in 1912, 1914 and 1916 as well as their tournament title in 1941, so this guy saying that indiana has more nat. championships than all the big ten combined is false.

  6. Which also means that Kansas and N. Carolina would have more nat. titles than indiana

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  8. The two top teams have a twice to beat advantage. The lower ranked teams need to win twice against the higher ranked teams to advance to the best-of-three Finals , where the first team to reach two wins becomes the NCAA basketball champion.

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  1. […] will not be participating. The University of North Carolina, who has won the title 5 years, making it the team with the 3rd highest record of tournament wins will not be given the chance to make it to the big dance. This is quite the dynamic change in […]

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