20 Best College Basketball Teams In America

In United states of America sporting events are very popular and athletes are encouraged from very young ages to begin investing in their desired sporting careers.

College sports offers an opportunity for athletes to take their sports to a whole new level post high school.

It is also encouraged because it raises funding for these colleges and provides an opportunity for these athletes to attend college at cheaper rates or almost even free.

Basketball is very popular so its not out of place that college basketball is extremely popular and lucrative.

What is College Basketball?

College basketball is basketball or leagues played between teams from different colleges and universities in the United States of America.

The most popular league is the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The NCAA is divided into 3 divisions named Division I (Highest level), Division II and Division III.

The division I is divided into 2 based on the gender of the players (male and female). The teams in each division play in yearly tournaments to determine the national champions. These Tournaments are referred to as “march madness”

How is College Basketball Different from NBA?

NBA is National Basketball Association. It is a professional basketball league in North America that features players from all over the world.

A lot of players get into the NBA from college basketball; however, they are not the same. The framework of this tournament differs from that of college football and it is regarded as the peak of a player’s basketball career.

  1. The shot clock – is the time provision for an offensive team to attempt a shot. In the NCAA the shot clock is 35sec but in NBA it’s 24secs. This means that the NBA games have higher score lines and are faster paced than college basketball games.
  2. Fouls – In NBA a player is allowed six personal fouls before “fouling out”. In college basketball, the players are allowed only five.
  3. Possession – In NBA, the possession disputes are resolved by a jump ball. In college basketball, however, possession simply alternates between teams. A possession arrow is often placed on the scorer’s table to indicate which team gets possession in the next situation.
  4. The season – The number of games a team plays in a tournament in the NBA is about 82 games in just six months. College teams have to survive a mere 30 or 35 games over a season that lasts 4 months.

In spite of these minor differences, for the undiscerning eye, the NBA and NCAA are mostly the same because the rules of a basketball game stay the same anywhere in the world.

A lot of basketball enthusiasts would argue that college basketball is more entertaining and has a lot more heart and passion than the professional NBA because it’s a game where every team truly stands a fair chance at the title.

This is because every college basketball game is important and there are no permanently good or bad teams. This is unlike the NBAs where it seems as though the championship is reserved for the Lakers and Celtics.

The minor alterations of the rules of the game in the NBA that makes the game more professional seems to limit the need for real tactical play and seems like more of a one-on-one game which makes for a level of predictability.

The fans and the passion of college basketball games is undeniably the best. These college students don’t need music to bring the entire stadium to life and their passion and excitement is very infectious.

One can’t sit through a college basketball game without getting caught up in the colours and euphoria of the fans at the stadium.

The college basketball teams have the privilege of being able to retain and sustain their traditions over the years which gives a certain sentimental value to the games.

How to Become a College Basketball Player?

The odds of a high school basketball player getting into a college basketball team are very slim because of the very few opportunities available to young players.

It’s important that anyone choosing this path has to be realistic with their opportunities, challenges and chances at every point in time.

It is expected that anyone attempting to get into a college basketball team should have his/her basics covered. This includes;

  1. Physical Features – It’s a no brainer that anyone looking to play basketball on a higher stage has to be very well above average in height. You would also need to be coordinated, be athletic and have endurance.
  2. Skill – A ball player has to have remarkable skill and talent to set him apart in the eyes of these college basketball coaches. You must be IMPRESSIVE with a capital I. Raw talent goes a long way to getting you attention you absolutely need if you are getting into a college basketball team.
  3. Work Ethic/Dedication – you must want this more than anything else because this is what will help you survive the extremely long work hours at the gym. In this case, talent can only take you so far. You will a healthy dose of hard work and grit.

If you have gotten this far, I’m assuming you have your basics covered. So now, to the meat of getting you into that dream college team.

Good Grades

It is not just enough that you have great basketball skills, it is also important to remember that colleges are still for academic purposes so you will be judged based on your grades for the most part.

Having good grades (well above average) will go a long way to getting your application considered.

Find a Good AAU Team

AAU is Amateur Athletic Union. It refers to non-school basketball teams that compete in tournaments. These teams can help improve your skill and profile.

It can also give you some experience in playing in a semi-professional team. They also play some “showcase” tournaments which can be your opportunity to get scouted.

Attend Elite/Showcase Camps

Some colleges have these Elite camps and these may provide opportunity to compete with peers and people with similar interests to get a true idea of your talents.

Create a Highlights Video

This is a no brainer because you would need to send out these videos to schools you wish to apply to.

Make list of the colleges you are interested in and email them

A lot of colleges have their coaches and athletic staff emails available on google.

You can send them an email including a personal introduction, why you are interested in playing for them and attending their school, necessary personal and professional history including applicable basketball stats, your contact information, link to your highlights video and details of your high school varsity basketball or AAU team schedule.

Benefits of Playing College Basketball

The benefits of playing basketball professionally at a college level cannot be exaggerated. It is a wonderful opportunity to get an education while following your dreams full-time.

On a personal level, you get proper training with sufficient equipment available at your college, you also get a well-rounded academic experience with the help of some college tutors for when you inevitably miss classes.

If you enjoy travelling, seeing new places and meeting new people then college basketball can help satisfy this aspect of your soul. It gives you a great opportunity to travel for games and also to meet people in the places that you would be visiting.

College basketball offers access to scholarships. Colleges have specific amounts set aside for scholarships for athletes and as a player you can access this funding in your college, if you qualify.

College basketball games are aired nationwide so it gives exposure. It creates an opportunity for you to be seen by anyone from talent scouts to coaches from all over the country.

In essence, a career in college basketball is worth it even though it may be short-lived.

How are College Basketball Teams Ranked?

One of the most relevant ranking systems for college basketball teams is the AP Poll.

AP poll is the Associated Press Poll. It provides weekly rankings of the top 25 NCAA teams in the 3 division I college sports. These sports include football, man’s basketball and women’s basketball.

This Associated Press is made up of about 65 sportswriters and broadcasters from across the country. They each get to rate all 25 teams and their individual rankings are collated to give the AP Polls.

In college basketball, this poll is used to compare teams throughout the season. The poll is usually released every Monday and the voter ballots are made public.

Best College Basketball Teams in America

This is a short list of College basketball teams who have come tops in national rankings over the years.

These rankings are done based on their performance over the years in national championships. The AP Polls also play an important role in these rankings as they are nationally recognized and transparent. 

1. Kansas Jayhawks Men’s Basketball Team

It is the intercollegiate men’s basketball team for the University of Kansas. They are classified as division I and compete in the Big 12 conference.

It is considered as one of the most prestigious college basketball programs in America with over 5 championships; 3 NCAA championships and 2 Helms National Championships.

They have been national runner up 6 times and consecutive conference title holders at 14 titles, a streak that ran from 2005 till 2018.

Also, they have ranked in AP polls 232 consecutive polls from February 2009 till February 2022. This is the longest streak in AP poll history.

2. Villanova Wildcats Men’s Basketball

Villanova Wildcats Men’s Basketball represent the Villanova University in college basketball.

Each year, they compete in NCAA Division I. Due to their level of influence, they are called the Wildcats.

Officially, they are one of the top 5 teams in the Philadelphia state. They share a healthy rivalry and competition.

Additionally, they have won National Championships three times. They have won the Philadelphia big five 27 times.

3. Virginia Cavaliers Men’s Basketball Team

Virginia Cavaliers Men’s Basketball Team represent the University of Virginia. They compete in the Atlantic coast Conference in division I of the NCAA.

They have won one NCAA division one game and two National Invitation Tournaments and three ACC tournament titles. It is coached by Tony Bennett and its home games are played in John Paul Arena which opened in 2006.

4. Gonzaga Bulldogs Men’s Basketball

They represent the Gonzaga University. It competes in the West Coast Conference in Division I of the NCAA.

Their home stadium is the McCarthey Athletic Centre in Spokane, Washington. They have had 15 players win the WCC player of the year award and two of its players in 1961 and 2006 have led in National scoring.

5. Illinois Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball Team

Illinois Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball Team compete in the NCAA division I basketball; the Big Ten conference.

They represent the University of Illinois and their home games are played in the State Farm Centre.

Over the years, they have won seventeen Big ten regular season Championship. The team is being coached by Brad Underwood.

6. Michigan Wolverines Men’s Basketball

Michigan Wolverines Men’s Basketball represent the University of Michigan. They compete in the Big Ten Conference in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The Wolverines have their home games at the Crisler Centre in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They have won an NCAA championship and 2 National Invitation Tournaments. It is coached by Juwan Howard.

7. Baylors Bears Men’s Basketball

Baylors Bears Men’s Basketball are at home at the Ferrell Centre and are coached by Scott Drew.

The team represents Baylor University in Waco Texas. They play in NCAA division I, Big 12 Conference.

8. West Virginia Mountaineer Basketball Team

West Virginia Mountaineer Basketball Team are of the West Virginia University.

They have won 13 conference tournament Championships with 29 appearances in NCAA Tournaments. They have appeared in 16 National Invitation Tournaments and have won 2 of these.

9. Ohio State Buckeyes Basketball Team

They are of the Ohio State University, with home games at the Value City Arena in the Jerome Schottenstein Centre in Columbus, Ohio. 

The arena was opened in 1998 and has served as the home ever since.

10. Florida State Seminoles Men’s Basketball

For Florida state University, this intercollegiate basketball team competes in NCAA and also in ACC.

They play all their home games at the Donald L. Tucker Centre located in Tallahassee Florida.

11. Duke Blue Devils College Basketball

The Duke blue devils coached by Mike Krzyzewski represents Duke University. Their home arena is the Cameron Indoor Stadium located in Durham, North Carolina.

They have won 5 NCAA Championships and appeared in 11 championship games, 16 final fours and have an NCAA-best to their name.

12. Houston Cougars College Basketball Team

This team represents the University of Houston in NCAA competitions. They were founded in 1945.

Their arena is the Fertitta Centre in Houston Texas. They are presently being coached by Kelvin Sampson. They have won 9 conference regular season championships in their history.

13. Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball Team

Their first season was in 1903 and they represent the University of Kentucky. Their arena is the Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center.

Presently, the head coach is John Calipari. They have the highest number of NCAA appearances at 59 appearances. They have also won the National Invitation Tournament twice.

14. Iowa Hawkeyes Men’s Basketball Team

Representing the University of Iowa, they are coached by Fran McCaffery. Their arena is the Carver-Hawkeye Arena with 15,400 capacity.

They have played in 27 NCAA tournaments and 8 NIT tournaments. They have won Big Ten tournament twice.

15. Creighton Bluejays Men’s Basketball Team

They are for the Creighton University and nicknamed the Bluejays.  

They currently compete in the Big East Conference and play home games at the CHI Health Centre Omaha, Omaha Nebraska. The current head coach is Greg McDermott

16. Texas Tech Red Raiders Basketball Team

They are 6th place in the big twelve. They are of the Texas Tech university located in Lubbock Texas.

Their home is called the United Supermarkets Arena. Since being founded in 1925 they have won 12 regular season conference championships and 5 post season conference championships.


They are 3rd in the Big 12. Their first season was in 1906 and their present head coach is Chris Beard.

Their arena is the Frank Erwin Centre in Austin Texas. They rank 17th in total victories among all NCAA division I college basketball programs.

They have won 28 conference championships in 35 total appearances.

18. Oregon Ducks Basketball Team

They are the number 1 team in the Pac-12 Conference. They are for the University of Oregon and are coached by Howard Hobson.

Their arena is the Mattew Knight Arena located in Eugene, Oregon. They have made an NCAA appearance 17 times and have won 8 conference championships.

19. Arkansas Razorbacks Basketball Teams

They are ranked second in the NCAA South-eastern Conference.  Their home arena is the Nolan Richardson Court at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They have relatively lower wins than other basketball teams on this list, however, they are still ranked very high even with limited appearances in the NCAAs.


College basketball is a very relevant part of the American college and sport culture and creates great opportunities for young players to get access to a college education and a sporting career simultaneously.


You May Also Like