College basketball teams are among the most popular sports in the world, with dozens of them averaging over 10,000 fans per home game. Syracuse (21,992) and Kentucky (21,695) both draw larger crowds than the most popular NBA teams. Furthermore, the most popular women's NCAA basketball teams, South Carolina (10,406) and Iowa State (9,573), draw crowds comparable to the top WNBA teams. It takes a lot to play for the top teams in the NCAA basketball rankings, as expected, but several of the nation's best high school players do it every year.
So, what does it take to be a member of one of the best NCAA basketball teams? Of course, a well-rounded skill set is required. For example, if you want to play point guard for an NCAA Division 3 basketball team, you should have a couple of years of AAU experience and accolades such as all-conference or all-area. Women's players aspiring to be power forwards for one of the nation's NCAA Division 2 basketball teams, on the other hand, should have comparable experiences and accolades and average nine points and six rebounds per game.
Despite the fierce competition, thousands of college basketball teams look to fill their rosters each season. There are hundreds of NCAA Division 1 basketball teams among them.
The NCAA is the most well-known organization in charge of overseeing and regulating college sports in the United States and, in Simon Fraser University's case, Canada. It is in charge of the Final Fours as well as hundreds of schools that have more comprehensive views of their athletic departments. Meanwhile, the NAIA is similar to the NCAA, but it does not have any top-tier college basketball teams because their skill levels are similar to those of NCAA Division 2 and 3 teams. The NAIA also supports a few universities in Canada, the Bahamas, and the United States Virgin Islands. Junior colleges are two-year teams that also provide playing opportunities.
Basketball schools, whether NCAA or NAIA, are divided into a number of conferences, each of which has at least ten teams, though some are smaller. In almost all cases, especially at the Division 1 level, NCAA basketball teams will compete for regular-season and tournament titles, the latter of which guarantees a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Although at-large berths for D3 postseason play are especially limited, some conferences send several NCAA basketball teams to postseason play.
The distribution of NCAA teams by state is generally based on population. In other words, states with larger populations have more college basketball teams, while smaller states have fewer. For example, California has 25 D1 schools and New York has 22, while Wyoming has one and Alaska has none, making it the only state without D1 basketball. Alaska and Alaska Anchorage, on the other hand, do sponsor D2 basketball.
UCLA has historically set the standard in NCAAM, winning 11 national titles. Its most recent occurrence was in 1995. Meanwhile, Connecticut is the NCAAW pacesetter; the Huskies have won the championship 11 times, the most recent being in 2016. A few champions finished their championship runs as undefeated NCAA basketball teams. On the men's side, the most recent undefeated NCAA basketball team was the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers (32-0), while Connecticut's women's team went 38-0 in 2015-16 and 40-0 in 2013-14.
Of course, for D1 NCAA basketball teams, NCAA basketball rankings such as the Associated Press poll are not the ultimate goal; getting as high a seed as possible in the NCAA Tournament and then getting as close to a national championship as possible are. These polls do, however, provide a roughly accurate measure by which to compare teams, and for NCAAM, the NET rankings provide a look at a rating tool that the selection committee highly values when selecting and seeding teams.
The top-ranked men's teams in the NCAA basketball rankings heading into the 2019-20 season were Michigan State, Kentucky, and Kansas, while the best women's teams were Oregon, Baylor, and Stanford. This is also true for ESPN's college basketball rankings. The AP poll considers media members' opinions, whereas the ESPN college basketball rankings are based on coaches' votes.
During the season, NCAA basketball polls are released on Mondays or Tuesdays, depending on the poll, and computer rankings such as the NET rankings and the RPI are updated daily or, in some cases, minutely.
In November, the college basketball season begins. The first D1 men's and women's games of the 2019-20 season were played on Nov. 5, and NCAA basketball teams will play more than 30 games in a season that will last into March and, for the best NCAA basketball teams, into April. Conference play usually starts around New Year's Day, with conference tournaments held in February or March. Some conferences will also play a few league games in early December.
Almost all conference champions, determined in most cases by conference tournaments and in others by regular-season championships, qualify for their respective national tournaments. The format for all NCAA basketball postseason play, whether within a conference or nationally, is straightforward. Wins advance the team to the next round, while losses end the squad's participation in that event.
The Virginia Cavaliers began the 2018-19 men's season with a 28-2 record before exiting the tournament in the semifinals after a 69-59 loss to Florida State. However, that would be the team's only setback as they went undefeated in the NCAA Tournament, defeating Texas Tech, 85-77 in overtime, in the championship game.
Meanwhile, the 2018-19 Baylor Lady Bears went 28-1 during the regular season before cruising through the Big 12 Tournament with a 3-0 record and then claiming their third national title, defeating Notre Dame in a memorable championship game, 82-81.
The website of the NCAA basketball team's athletics department is the best place to look up schedules. This is where you can get the most up-to-date information on game times and broadcast/streaming details, which frequently include the inclusion of multiple games on ESPN college basketball. However, keep in mind that these times will always be local to the time zone in which the school is located, so make any necessary adjustments if that differs from where you are. NCAA basketball scores from previous games are also available here.
Or maybe you'd like to see a schedule of all D1 college basketball games. In that case, you'll need to go elsewhere, such as ESPN's NCAA basketball page, which contains all of that information. This website also provides television information for all games, not just those broadcast on its extensive channel lineup. Furthermore, ESPN NCAA basketball provides a great place to view all of the day's NCAA basketball scores, though you must select "Division I" if you want to see all D1 scores. ESPN college basketball scores' default page view only shows the top 25 NCAA basketball scores.
ESPN NCAA basketball, as well as 247sports and the various news outlets local to the schools you're considering attending and playing for, are excellent sources of information. Although national sources are useful, for in-depth information on specific teams, you should limit your search to local resources.
The basketball recruiting process can be perplexing for recruits, especially since they are all new to it, whereas the coaches who are recruiting them are, in most cases, quite experienced. However, you can help yourself narrow that gap in experience by educating yourself as much as possible on topics such as where you compare to others and where the best fit for you is.
When it comes to comparing yourself, 247Sports is one of the best resources for doing so. This list of the nation's top recruits can also be filtered by position and location. Furthermore, if you want to play in the NBA, you should look at rankings like the one created by BestColleges.com, which ranks teams based on NBA draft picks over the last few years.
As you make your way through your time at high school, pay close attention to the basketball recruiting timeline. The first step is to start during your freshman year. If that’s come and gone, start playing catch-up now to maximize the time that you have left and maximize your chances of securing the best overall fit possible for yourself.
You also want to impress NCAA basketball teams by putting together highlight tapes of yourself in action. Even better, take part in camps run by college basketball teams so that they can see your game in person.
In addition to being amongst the nation’s best on the court, you need to bring other skills to the table in order to be considered for scholarships awarded by NCAA basketball teams. These include your scholastic aptitude as well as your demeanor and how you handle yourself with your teammates and with your coaching staff. However, perhaps most importantly is how you respond to adversity, to unexpected challenges. You will surely experience unexpected stumbling blocks in college, regardless of where you play, and coaches want to see how you respond to those types of situations before awarding you a basketball scholarship.
Note that NCAA D3 schools do not offer basketball scholarships but do tend to award a considerable amount of financial aid to their general student bodies. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the rest of the schools do. One notable exception is the Ivy League as those eight institutions also do not make any basketball scholarships available, but, like D3, their financial aid packages tend to be generous.