AP Poll College Basketball Rankings: Greatest 25 Programs Of All-Time

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AP Poll College Basketball Rankings: Greatest 25 Programs Of All-Time

AP Poll

AP Poll College Basketball Rankings: Greatest 25 Programs Of All-Time

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According to the AP college basketball polls, where do all of the teams historically rank? Here are the top basketball programs of all-time utilizing the AP’s final rankings.


AP Poll College Basketball Rankings: Greatest Program Of All-Time

AP Poll, All-Time College Basketball Rankings
1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s
Coaches Poll, All-Time College Basketball Rankings
1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s
College Football AP Greatest Programs of All-Time

The AP’s top 25 poll is better known for its football rankings, but it’s been among the most consistently reliably systems for basketball, too. The football side started in 1936, basketball in the 1948-1949 season.

No other rankings are as good when it comes to providing a college basketball historical snapshot.

According to the AP final rankings for each season, how and where did all the college basketball teams rank since they all started? What did the voters think over the years?

Just like we do for the football rankings, take all the AP final rankings and use our simple scoring system – the final AP No. 1 in each season gets 25 points, the No. 2 team 24, No. 3 23, and so on down to the bottom.

Now, with that said, there’s one massive difference between football and basketball.

It’s a glitch, and there’s no way around it. Unlike football – at least since 1968 – the AP comes out with its final basketball rankings at the end of the regular season and not after the whole season is over. So the NCAA Tournament doesn’t factor in to almost all of the year’s AP college basketball rankings.

The AP has always named a college football national champion, and that mattered in the old poll-and-bowl days. But then came the BCS – and it still matted to a certain extent – and now we have the College Football Playoff to define a national champion. That’s not the deal for basketball.

You can look at this two different ways.

On one side, that makes these rankings a true representation of how good the basketball teams were in each season. To be blunt, the NCAA Tournament – which didn’t officially become the dominant force over the NIT until 1971 – is a gimmick. A team can finish seventh in its conference, get hot for two weekends, and it’s deep in the mix for the national title.

On the other side, the 1988 NCAA Tournament champion Kansas Jayhawks weren’t in the final AP Top 25. The 1985 Villanova Wildcats weren’t ranked, and the 1983 NC State Wolfpack were 16th. So those teams – and others – get little to no credit in the rankings below, proving that determining a national title based on the opinion of judges probably isn’t the best way to go.

So there are a bunch of structural inconsistencies, but …

Based on the final AP college basketball rankings from the 1948-1949 season through to the end of the 2021-2022 regular season, who earned the most all-time recognition from the AP voters?

AP Poll, All-Time College Basketball Rankings
1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s
College Football AP Greatest Programs of All-Time
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AP Poll: 1949 to 2022 Final All-Time College Basketball Rankings

1 Kentucky 1082

2 North Carolina 944

3 Duke 921

4 Kansas 857

5 UCLA 732

6 Louisville 518

7 Arizona 475

8 Indiana 458

9 Michigan State 416

10 Ohio State 415

11 Syracuse 403

12 Cincinnati 400

13 Michigan 398

14 Illinois 394

15 Villanova 387

16 Notre Dame 358

17 Purdue 324

18 Maryland 314

19 Marquette 311

20 Georgetown 286

21 Gonzaga 285

22 Oklahoma 283

T23 Utah 271

T23 UConn 271

T23 Arkansas 271

AP Poll, All-Time College Basketball Rankings
1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s
College Football AP Greatest Programs of All-Time

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