Basketball fever is in the air as the NBA Playoffs reach their climax. Unfortunately for those who prefer the college game, the NCAA campaign is over for another season with the curtain coming down on the Final Four competition last month. This year, the prize went to the UConn Huskies, who romped past San Diego State Aztecs with a convincing 76-59 victory at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The NBA however is still well and truly ongoing, and a number of household names are all aiming to put their name on the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy once again. There have been plenty of shocking results so far, with the eighth-seed Miami Heat making it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals for the second consecutive season, while the seventh-seed Los Angeles Lakers have made their way into the Western Conference finals where they will face off against Nikola Jokic's top seed Denver Nuggets. And it is the Colorado-based outfit that has been made the +300 favorites for glory by Bodog's NBA odds and futures.
Basketball has an indescribable way of uniting people around their beloved team; it has a special ability to unite communities with a common goal of winning. Today, despite college ball being firmly positioned in the close season, we are celebrating the most dominant NCAA Division I basketball programs of all time.
For other teams to follow, these teams have blazed the path. They have long been well-known and have consistently won their conferences. Let's examine each team's background, top players, and the individuals that helped them win their respective championships.
UCLA is the most successful college basketball program in NCAA Division I history, boasting a record 11 national championships however, they are without a domestic crown in almost two decades. Led by the legendary head coach John Wooden, the UCLA Bruins won their first two national titles in back-to-back campaigns in 1964 and 1965. They had a year off in 1966 before embarking on an incredible run of seven consecutive NCAA Division I championships between 1967 and 1973, ensuring that they won nine titles in a decade, a period of dominance yet to be replicated.
The team was anchored by a host of legendary players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was the highest points scorer in the history of the NBA up until recently, with LeBron James toppling his longstanding record earlier this season. Players such as Bill Walton, Walt Hazzard, and Gail Goodrich, all contributed to the Bruins' success over the years.
It's easy to understand why the Kentucky Wildcats have developed a reputation as one of the most illustrious teams in the world of college ball over the years. They have won eight national titles throughout the years, writing their name into the history books in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998, and 2012. They still rank among the most legendary programs in the nation even if they haven't been able to win a championship in well over a decade.
The squad has continuously been able to attract and nurture great talent under the direction of legendary coaches like Adolph Rupp and John Calipari, and their championship victories stand as enduring testaments to the strength and competitiveness of the program. Despite the Wildcats' ups and downs throughout the years, their tremendous record of success on the floor speaks for itself.
With six national championships under its belt, North Carolina is third in line. One of the most well-known teams in the nation, the Tar Heels has a colorful past. In 1957, they won their first National Championship under the legendary Dean Smith's coaching. They also achieved success with coaches Roy Williams in 2005, 2009, and 2017, as well as Dean Smith in 1982 and 1993.
The list of renowned sportsmen who have entered the doors in North Carolina is enormous, but the unrivaled Michael Jordan stands head and shoulders above the rest. MJ is arguably the best basketball player to ever step onto a court, and none of his contemporaries can match his record of six wins and zero losses in the NBA Finals.
Five national championships have passed through the doors of the illustrious North Carolina College thanks to Duke's prestigious collegiate basketball program over the years. The team has developed into a colossal power in the world of college basketball under the direction of head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has been on the sidelines making decisions for four of those victories. The players the Blue Devils have produced over the years, from Shane Battier, JJ Redick, and Jayson Tatum in the 2000s to Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, and Bobby Hurley in the 1990s, demonstrate their dominance.
Finally, we have the reigning champion UConn Huskies. They secured their fifth crown earlier in the year when 19 points from point guard Tristen Newton was enough to secure the crown at the expense of San Diego State. In fact, the Connecticut outfit was so impressive throughout the recent Big Four tournament that three of their players were selected in the Final Four all-tournament team, with the aforementioned Newton, as well as Jordan Hawkins and MOP Adama Sanogo all featuring.
The Huskies have also secured titles in 2011 and 2014 and they were the dominant team in the country throughout the 2010s. Their first two crowns came back in 1999 and 2004.