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March Madness®: 25 Years of NCAA’s Best Basketball Teams

It’s tourney time! But before you fill out your bracket, we’re here with some historical perspective that might give you some competitive insights. As the excitement of the NCAA® Men’s Basketball Championships—and the controversy currently surrounding the sport—grip the nation, let’s look back at which teams have had the most and the deepest tournament runs throughout the last quarter century.

Best NCAA Basketball Teams of the Past 25 Years

*All data in this piece is current as of January 2018 and includes wins that may have since been vacated.

Along with counting total tournament appearances and wins, we also weighted wins as teams got deeper into the tournament—just like you would score a bracket you filled out.

Based on our analysis, North Carolina is the best NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Team of the past 25 years.

Top 5 NCAA Basketball Tournament Teams of the Last 25 Years

#1. North Carolina

#2. Kentucky

#3. Duke

#4. Connecticut

#5. Kansas

This was a close contest. Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas all have more tournament appearances than North Carolina. Kentucky even has more tournament wins total. But North Carolina made it to 2 more Final Fours than Kentucky and, thanks to 2017’s win over Gonzaga, has 1 more championship. Wins in these heavily weighted rounds give North Carolina the edge.

See full stats on all teams.

Teams with the Most Tournament Appearances

Most teams that made the tournament made it at least twice. Over 270 teams made at least 1 appearance in the tournament in the past 25 years, and over 220 of them made it at least twice.

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Teams with the Most Tournament Wins

Only 3 teams have 60 or more wins in the past 25 tournaments: Kentucky, North Carolina, and Kansas.

Teams with the Most Final Four Appearances

North Carolina is the only team to make 10 Final Four appearances in the last 25 years. This means 40% of Final Fours since 1992 featured North Carolina.

Teams with the Most Championship Appearances

  • Duke—5
  • Kentucky—5
  • North Carolina—5
  • Connecticut—4

Kentucky, North Carolina, and Duke have all played in 5 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship games. Connecticut is right behind them with 4 games.

Connecticut has also been the most efficient tournament team of the past 25 years. It ranked as the number-four team in our bracket scoring, despite having fewer tournament appearances, fewer Final Four appearances, and fewer championship appearances than the other schools in the top 4. That means that although Connecticut may not get to the tournament as often as the other powerhouses, when Connecticut plays, it usually wins. 

Connecticut has the best winning percentage in championship games. It won all 4 it’s played in.

Teams with the Most Men’s NCAA Basketball Championships

The last 25 titles have gone to just 14 schools. And just 5 schools won 64% of all national title games since 1992. These 5 schools have the only teams to win more than one title in the same period.

  • Connecticut—4 (2014, 2011, 2004, 1999)
  • North Carolina—4 (2017, 2009, 2005, 1993)
  • Duke—3 (2015, 2010, 2001)
  • Kentucky—3 (2012, 1998, 1996)
  • Florida—2 (2007, 2006)

Best Basketball Conference of the Past 25 Years

Using the same method we used to measure team success, we also looked at success on a conference level. Not surprisingly, the Atlantic Coast Conference—home of both North Carolina and Duke—came out on top.

Top 6 Basketball Conferences of the Past 25 Years

  1. ACC
  2. SEC
  3. Big Ten
  4. Pac-12
  5. Big 12
  6. AAC

*Conference stats reflect historical performance of the teams that are current members of each conference.

Tournament Wins by Conference

Teams from 32 different conferences have made the tournament at some point in the last quarter century. Despite the wide array of conferences participating, the winner’s circle is much smaller for this time period: schools from just 7 conferences won over 86% of tournament games.

*Conference stats reflect historical performance of the teams that are current members of each conference.

How did your team rank?

Find out where your favorite team ranked in the chart below. Don’t forget to give a shout-out to your alma mater in the comments. Share this with your friends so you can brag about your team coming out ahead!

Where to Watch the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

This year’s tournament will be broadcast on CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV. These channels will air different tournament games simultaneously. Make sure your TV package has these channels so you don’t miss a minute of the action. If you need a new TV provider to access the channels, enter your zip in the box below to find the available TV providers in your area.

Please enter a valid zip code.

Eligible Teams without a Tournament Appearance in the Past 25 Years

Ranking of All Teams from the Past 25 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournaments

Swipe Left to See All →
RankTeam NameTournament AppearancesTournament WinsFinal Four AppearancesChampionship AppearancesNational ChampionshipsTotal Bracket Score
1North Carolina Tar Heels22671054205
2Kentucky Wildcats2368853186
3Duke Blue Devils2458653164
4Connecticut Huskies1749544161
5Kansas Jayhawks2560531122
6Florida Gators1742532117
7Michigan State Spartans2248721107
8Arizona Wildcats234532192
9UCLA Bruins203942185
10Syracuse Orange183842184
11Louisville Cardinals203731175
12Maryland Terrapins172821158
13Arkansas Razorbacks132022157
14Villanova Wildcats162321154
15Wisconsin Badgers213431054
16Michigan Wolverines122122045
17Ohio State Buckeyes132431044
18Butler Bulldogs142122043
19Gonzaga Bulldogs202911042
20Indiana Hoosiers182111033
21Illinois Fighting Illini162011032
22Utah Utes142011032
23Memphis Tigers131811031
24Oklahoma Sooners172120031
25Texas Longhorns212410030
26Oklahoma State Cowboys171920028
27Purdue Boilermakers182400026
28Xavier Musketeers182300026
29Stanford Cardinals142010025
30Oregon Ducks111710024
31West Virginia Mountaineers111810023
32Cincinnati Bearcats202100023
33Georgetown Hoyas131710022
34Marquette Golden Eagles151610021
35Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets7911020
36Temple Owls161500018
37Pittsburgh Panthers141600017
38Iowa State Cyclones131500016
39Wake Forest Demon Deacons121500016
40Virginia Cavaliers111400016
41Missouri Tigers131300016
42Wichita State Shockers71110015
43Notre Dame Fighting Irish121300015
44Mississippi State Bulldogs81010014
45Massachusetts Minutemen7910014
46Tennessee Volunteers111300014
47Virginia Commonwealth Rams11810012
48Alabama Crimson Tide8810012
49Boston College Eagles101100012
50Tulsa Golden Hurricanes91100012
51Baylor Bears71000012
52LSU Tigers7710011
53Minnesota Golden Gophers9610010
54Washington Huskies81000010
55George Mason Patriots551009
56North Carolina State Wolfpack990009
57Florida State Seminoles780009
58South Carolina Gamecocks441008
59California Golden Bears1280008
60Iowa Hawkeyes980008
61Miami Hurricanes880008
62Texas A&M Aggies780008
63USC Trojans870008
64Saint Joseph's Hawks770008
65Vanderbilt Commodores970007
66Kansas State Wildcats960007
67New Mexico Lobos1160006
68Western Kentucky Hilltoppers1060006
69San Diego State Aztecs860006
70Dayton Flyers850006
71St. John's Red Storm750006
72Rhode Island Rams550006
73Creighton Bluejays1150005
74Southern Illinois Salukis950005
75Saint Louis Billikens750005
76Texas Tech Red Raiders750005
77Auburn Tigers350005
78Providence Friars740005
79Kent State Golden Flashes640005
80Brigham Young Cougars1240004
81George Washington Colonials940004
82Charlotte 49ers840004
83Mississippi Rebels740004
84Northern Iowa Panthers740004
85Seton Hall Pirates740004
86UAB Blazers640004
87Nevada Wolf Pack540004
88Arizona State Sun Devils440004
89Davidson Wildcats830004
90UNLV Rebels830003
91Georgia Bulldogs730003
92Saint Mary's Gaels730003
93Miami (OH) RedHawks430003
94Ohio Bobcats430003
95Richmond Spiders430003
96Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers430003
97Washington State Cougars330003
98Murray State Racers920002
99Valparaiso Crusaders920002
100Chattanooga Mocs720002
101Clemson Tigers720002
102Princeton Tigers720002
103Colorado Buffaloes620002
104Old Dominion Monarchs620002
105Weber State Wildcats620002
106Bucknell Bison520002
107Manhattan Jaspers520002
108Pacific Tigers520002
109Siena Saints520002
110Harvard Crimson420002
111Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks420002
112Cornell Big Red320002
113Detroit Titans320002
114Florida Gulf Coast Eagles320002
115Penn State Nittany Lions320002
116Santa Clara Broncos320002
117Virginia Tech Hokies320002
118Bradley Braves220002
119Georgia State Panthers220002
120Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders220002
121Tulane Green Wave220002
122La Salle Explorers120002
123Missouri State Bears120002
124New Mexico State Aggies1010001
125Pennsylvania Quakers1010001
126Utah State Aggies910001
127Winthrop Eagles810001
128Montana Grizzlies710001
129North Carolina–Wilmington Seahawks610001
130Vermont Catamounts610001
131Hampton Pirates510001
132Charleston Cougars410001
133Hawaii Warriors410001
134Wisconsin–Green Bay Phoenix410001
135Colorado State Rams310001
136Drexel Dragons310001
137Fresno State Bulldogs310001
138Indiana State Sycamores310001
139North Dakota State Bison310001
140Northwestern State Demons310001
141Pepperdine Waves310001
142Southern University Jaguars310001
143Western Michigan Broncos310001
144Coppin State Eagles210001
145DePaul Blue Demons210001
146Eastern Michigan Eagles210001
147Illinois State Redbirds210001
148Lehigh Mountain Hawks210001
149Morehead State Eagles210001
150San Diego Toreros210001
151Wyoming Cowboys210001
152Arkansas–Little Rock Trojans110001
153Central Michigan Chippewas110001
154Cleveland State Vikings110001
155Mercer Bears110001
156Norfolk State Spartans110001
157Northwestern Wildcats110001
158South Florida Bulls110001
159Yale Bulldogs110001
160Iona Gaels700000
161Belmont Bruins600000
162Holy Cross Crusaders600000
163Albany Great Danes500000
164East Tennessee State Buccaneers500000
165Louisiana–Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns500000
166Austin Peay Governors400000
167Boise State Broncos400000
168Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens400000
169Long Beach State 49ers400000
170Monmouth Hawks400000
171Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers400000
172Nebraska Cornhuskers400000
173North Carolina–Asheville Bulldogs400000
174South Alabama Jaguars400000
175South Carolina State Bulldogs400000
176South Dakota State Jackrabbits400000
177Texas Southern Tigers400000
178UCF Knights400000
179Wofford Terriers400000
180Akron Zips300000
181American University Eagles300000
182Ball State Cardinals300000
183Boston University Terriers300000
184Central Connecticut State Blue Devils300000
185Coastal Carolina Chanticleers300000
186Eastern Kentucky Colonels300000
187Illinois–Chicago Flames300000
188Jackson State Tigers300000
189Lafayette Leopards300000
190Long Island Blackbirds300000
191Navy Midshipmen300000
192North Carolina A&T Aggies300000
193Oakland Golden Grizzlies300000
194Oral Roberts Golden Eagles300000
195Robert Morris Colonials300000
196Southern Methodist Mustangs300000
197Texas–San Antonio Roadrunners300000
198UC Santa Barbara Gauchos300000
199UTEP Miners300000
200Air Force Falcons200000
201Alabama State Hornets200000
202Buffalo Bulls200000
203Cal State–Northridge Matadors200000
204Colgate Raiders200000
205East Washington Eagles200000
206Evansville Aces200000
207Fairleigh Dickinson Knights200000
208Florida A&M Rattlers200000
209Hofstra Pride200000
210James Madison Dukes200000
211Liberty Flames200000
212Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks200000
213Loyola (MD) Greyhounds200000
214Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils200000
215Morgan State Golden Bears200000
216New Orleans Privateers200000
217Niagara Purple Eagles200000
218Nicholls State Colonels200000
219North Texas Mean Green200000
220Northern Arizona Lumberjacks200000
221Portland State Vikings200000
222Radford Highlanders200000
223Rider Broncs200000
224Sam Houston State Bearkats200000
225Samford Bulldogs200000
226St. Bonaventure Bonnies200000
227St. Peter's Peacocks200000
228Tennessee State Tigers200000
229Texas State Bobcats200000
230Troy Trojans200000
231UNC Greensboro Spartans200000
232Wright State Raiders200000
233Alcorn State Braves100000
234Appalachian State Mountaineers100000
235Arkansas State Indians100000
236Arkansas–Pine Bluff Golden Lions100000
237Binghamton Bearcats100000
238Cal Poly Mustangs100000
239Cal State–Bakersfield Roadrunners100000
240Cal State–Fullerton Titans100000
241Canisius Golden Griffins100000
242Charleston Southern Buccaneers100000
243Delaware State Hornets100000
244Drake Bulldogs100000
245East Carolina Pirates100000
246Eastern Illinois Panthers100000
247Fairfield Stags100000
248Florida Atlantic Owls100000
249Florida International Golden Panthers100000
250Houston Cougars100000
251IUPUI Jaguars100000
252Jacksonville State Gamecocks100000
253Lamar Cardinals100000
254McNeese State Cowboys100000
255Montana State Bobcats100000
256North Carolina Central Eagles100000
257North Dakota Fighting Sioux100000
258Northeastern Huskies100000
259Northern Colorado Bears100000
260Northern Illinois Huskies100000
261Northern Kentucky Norse100000
262Oregon State Beavers100000
263Portland Pilots100000
264Prairie View A&M Panthers100000
265San Francisco Dons100000
266San Jose State Spartans100000
267Southeast Missouri State Redhawks100000
268Southeastern Louisiana Lions100000
269Southern Miss Golden Eagles100000
270Southern Utah Thunderbirds100000
271Stony Brook Seawolves100000
272TCU Horned Frogs100000
273Texas A&M–CC Islanders100000
274Texas–Arlington Mavericks100000
275UC Davis Aggies100000
276UC Irvine Anteaters100000
277UMBC Retrievers100000
278Wagner Seahawks100000
279Western Carolina Catamounts100000

Teams that tied were sorted alphabetically.

About the Author

John Dilley is an endless source of new ideas. With a background in both sports and music, he offers a unique perspective. He has written for The Daily Utah Chronicle, Filler, and has contributed content to several commercial websites.

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