The top 68 basketball programs in the nation (at least for 2012) will begin their journey in the 2012 NCAA tournament, with the Kentucky Wildcats regarded as the big favorites to win it all, ranked #1 in the nation and going undefeated in the SEC this season. Their also one of the most profitable programs in the nation, but they’re not the most valuable or profitable, with another Kentucky team surprising at the top.

Number 10 – Wisconsin Badgers

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The Badgers finished 14th in the final AP Poll of the season, getting the number 4 seed, finishing 24-9 overall and 12-6 in the Big Ten. The program’s value is at $17.2 million, with the basketball profits around $10 million last year.

Number 9 – Syracuse Orange

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Finishing the season as the number 2 team in the nation, Syracuse got the #1 seed in the East regional after going 17-1 in the Big East, winning the regular season title. Averaging over 22,000 in attendance, second in the nation, never hurts financially, with the team valued at $17.7 million and the program bringing in profits of around $11.5 million.

Number 8 – Arizona Wildcats

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This will be the second time in three years that the Arizona Wildcats won’t be making it into the NCAA tournament, showing their struggles and the decline of the Pac-12 who sent only two teams to the tournament. Still, alongside UCLA, it’s a brand in college basketball along the West Coast. The team is valued at $18.3 million, generating a $11.3 million profit.

Number 7 – Ohio State Buckeyes

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The Buckeyes finished 7th in the nation, getting the #2 seed in the tournament (East). They won the regular season title in the Big Ten (shared) for a second straight year. The team is valued at $21.9 million, with basketball profits of $13.8 million.

Number 6 – Indiana Hoosiers

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It’s been a few rough years for the Hoosiers, but they’re back in the tournament for the first time since 2008, ranking 17th in the nation on the AP. The program is valued at $23.2 million, bringing in a profit of $15.6 million.

Number 5 – Kentucky Wildcats

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There’s no doubt they’re the best team in the nation, finishing the season 32-2 while winning the SEC with a perfect 16-0, but Kentucky haven’t won the national title since 1998, a long drought for such a proud and demanding program. Value – $24.4 million. Program profit – $15.4 million.

Number 4 – Duke Blue Devils

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A program synonymous with its coach for the last 31 years, winning four national titles during Coach K’s reign. Duke didn’t win the regular season title and not the tournament title in the ACC for the first time since 2009, but were ranked 8th in the nation and got the number #2 seed in the Kentucky bracket. Value – $25 million. Profit – $15.1 million.

Number 3 – Kansas Jayhawks

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The Jayhawks made the NCAA tournament for the 23rd consecutive time. Finishing 6th in the nation a #2 seed behind North Carolina, they won the Big 12 for the 8th consecutive time. Team Value – $28.2 million. Profit – $17.7 million.

Number 2 – North Carolina Tar Heels

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The Tar Heels won the ACC regular season title for the fifth time in six years, with Roy Williams looking for his third national title at UNC. They got the #1 seed in the brackets, but lost their former supremacy in the Value charts to another Kentucky program. Current Value – $29.6 million. Profit – $17.9 million.

Number 1 – Louisville Cardinals

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The Cardinals, under Rick Pitino, won the Big East tournament for the first time this weekend since 2009, finishing the season ranked 18th in the nation and getting the #4 seed in the West regional. They leapfrogged over the Tar Heels thanks to their new KFC arena (22,000 seats). Value – $36.1 million. Profit – $23.2 million.

Numbers via Forbes.com