As we head into the final four this weekend and the college basketball championship game next week, on this last day of March Madness, we’re crossing our fingers here at League that our hometown team, the Villanova Wildcats, makes it to the championship game for the first time since 1985.
We thought it would be fun to explore the history of the basketball championship — particularly because this year, only one of the top ten historical winners is appearing. Since 1939, the NCAA has held its annual Men’s Division 1 Basketball Tournament each spring. So what colleges have emerged as championships most often?
#10: University of Florida Gators
The Gators have won two championships — back to back in 2006 and 2007. This year they made it to the big dance, but sadly lost to George Washington 82 to 77. Better luck next year, Gators!
#9: University of Cincinnati Bearcats
Were you surprised to see the Bearcats on this list? It’s probably because they haven’t won the championship since 1962 — after also winning it in 1961. They’ve made it the dance plenty, though, and this year were in the first round. They lost to local favorites St. Joe’s, 76 to 78.
#8: University of Louisville Cardinals
You can count on the Cardinals to make it to March Madness each year, but sadly, not this year. But they won the Championship in 1980, 1986, and as recently as 2013. Maybe next year, Cardinals!
#7: University of Kansas Jayhawks
The Jayhawks are March Madness regulars, and this year made it all the way into the Elite Eight where they lost to Villanova, 64 to 59. This ruined many a bracket out there. Next year might be your year, Jayhawks!
#6: University of Connecticut Huskies
The Huskies often dominate, and they’ve won four championships: 1999, 2004, 2011, and 2014. This year, however, they fell to Kansas in the first round, 73 to 61. But with 33 post-season appearances since 1951, you can expect to see them next year — and the Women’s team is in the final four!
#5: Duke University Blue Devils
Duke won the day last year — as they did in 1991, 1992, 2001, and 2010 as well. This year they made it the second round before losing to Oregon, 82 to 68. They played with heart, but it wasn’t meant to be. Here’s to 2017!
#4: North Carolina Tar Heels
At last, we’ve reached a championship team that is in the 2016 Final Four. Many a bracket predicts them as the winner in 2016, too. They’ve won in 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, and 2009 — but 2016 has been one of their best years yet.
#3: Indiana University Hoosiers
Since 1940, the Hoosiers have appeared in the post season a whopping 39 times. They also won the championship five times, in 1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, and 1987. They lost in in the Sweet Sixteen this year to North Carolina, 101 to 86, here in Philadelphia.
#2: University of Kentucky Wildcats
With fifty six post-season appearances and a whopping eight championships, Kentucky is no stranger to March Madness. They won in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998, and 2012, but this year lost in round two to Indiana, 73 to 67.
#1: UCLA Bruins
Were you surprised to see the Bruins at #1? If so, it’s probably because they haven’t won a championship since 1995, but they’ve won eleven times: in 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1995. Last year they made it to the Sweet Sixteen, but this year didn’t go post-season at all. Hopefully next year will be a banner year for this team.