Teams With the Most NCAA Tournament Championships

With a fifth NCAA Tournament championship, Duke join an elite group of college basketball programs with at least five titles, including North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky and UCLA.

Duke Blue Devils – 5

Duke blue Devils

Unlike the other teams on this list, Duke have won all of their titles under one coach, Mike Krzyzewski, who became the head coach at Durham in 1980 and began putting championship rings on his fingers since 1991, trailing only John Wooden with 10 championships among NCAA coaches.

Duke won their first two titles back to back in 1991 and 1992, beating Kansas in the first final followed by a win over Michigan and its Fab Five in 1992. A nine year wait followed which included two losses in the final (to Arkansas and Connecticut) before the 2001 tournament in which Duke beat Arizona to claim a third title.

In 2010 Duke beat Butler, barely, in an ugly final (it was another ugly final with Butler a year later against UConn). And five years later, a third time in Indianapolis and after a short Final Four drought, Krzyzewski led Duke to a 68-63 win over Wisconsin to claim title number five, coming in an impressive span of 25 years.

North Carolina Tar Heels – 5

North Carolina 2009

The five titles for North Carolina span a period of 53 years, beginning in 1957 under Frank McGuire, beating Kansas 54-53 in a game that went to three overtimes, the only time that’s happened in the NCAA Tournament championship game.

The Tar Heels lost in three finals until they got to lift the trophy once again, this time under Dean Smith, an assistant under McGuire from 1958 to 1961, with Michael Jordan and James Worthy steering them to a win over Georgetown in 1982. Dean Smith won his second title as a head coach in 1993, as North Carolina beat the Fab Five from Michigan with the famous Chris Webber time out.

Roy Williams took charge of North Carolina in 2003 (he was a Smith assistant from 1978 to 1988), and he has won two championships with them: First in 2005, beating Illinois, and again in 2009, with a win over Michigan State.

Indiana Hoosiers – 5

Indiana Hoosiers

The Hoosiers have been crowned NCAA Tournament champions five times between 1940 and 1987. The first two titles, in 1940 and 1953, came under the coaching of Branch McCraken, leading them twice to wins over Kansas, including by just one point in 1953.

Bob Knight became the head coach in 1971 and lead the Hoosiers to three more titles – first in 1976 with a dominant win over Michigan to cap off an undefeated season, followed by a title in 1981 with a win over North Carolina and finally in 1987, beating Syracuse by one point in the final.

Kentucky Wildcats – 8

Kentucky Wildcats

From 1948 to 1958 Kentucky were the dominant force in college basketball, winning four titles under Adolph Rupp. Over Baylor in 1948, followed by beating Oklahoma A&M a year later. In 1951 came a win over Kansas State and in 1958 Kentucky beat Seattle to win a fourth title in just over a decade.

From here came a 20-year wait, and a team coached by Joe B. Hall led Kentucky to a win over Duke and claim a fifth title, losing twice in the final during the 20-year wait. Another long period of waiting came, this time going on 18 years until Rick Pitino led the Wildcats to the title in 1996 with a win over Syracuse. Two years later Tubby Smith led Kentucky to victory and glory against Utah.

The last title, number 8 on the list, is fairly recent, in 2012, when John Calipari and his group of mostly one-and-done freshmen led by Anthony Davis overcame Kansas in the final. Calipari coached them to the final in 2014, losing to Connecticut.

UCLA Bruins – 11

UCLA 1995

Still the most successful program in college basketball history in terms of tournament titles, although the last one came in 1995, which happens to be their only one since 1975.

Ten of the 11 titles were won between 1964 and 1975, when UCLA often had not just the best team in the country but also the best player in the nation, be it Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) or Bill Walton, among many other greats.

From 1964 to 1973 UCLA won the title nine times, missing out in 1966 (UTEP). It’s impressive to say that during that impressive run of nine titles in 10 years, it was always a different team waiting in the final: Duke, Michigan, Dayton, North Carolina, Purdue, Jacksonville, Villanova, Florida State and Memphis State.

In 1975 it was the swan song of the great 60’s and 70’s UCLA team with a win over Kentucky. That was also the last year Wooden coached in. In 1995 Jim Harrick was the head coach bringing UCLA back to the front of the sport with a win over Arkansas in the final. In 2006, Ben Howland led them to the final, losing to Florida.

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