How many college basketball teams are there?
Researching, finding and choosing the best academic, athletic, social and financial fit among thousands of colleges with basketball teams is a big decision for any high school basketball player. Just how many college basketball teams are there? Fortunately, college-bound basketball athletes have plenty of options—there are over 1,300 4-year colleges with basketball teams at the NCAA D1, D2, D3 and NAIA levels. Men’s basketball athletes who want to up their game and work on their skills before pursuing a 4-year degree can also choose from over 600 junior colleges that currently have basketball teams. Altogether, that means there are nearly 2,000 basketball colleges across the nation.
In order to get a better understanding of basketball colleges and men’s college basketball rankings, keep reading our guide to figure out which division level is right for you—whether it’s colleges at the NCAA level, NAIA basketball schools, or JUCO basketball programs.
D1 basketball colleges
There are more than 350 NCAA Division 1 basketball colleges across the U.S. While there are many competitive opportunities at all division levels, many student-athletes are set on playing at one of these D1 basketball colleges, which are considered among some of the top men’s basketball colleges across the nation. However, it’s important to note that only about 1% of the nation’s 551,000 basketball athletes will go on to compete at one of these basketball schools.
D1 basketball colleges operate at the highest level of athletic competition. For high-school basketball players, this means competing against elite athletes, practicing at top athletic facilities and dedicating time, energy and effort to training in the off-season. Between a grueling practice schedule, traveling to games and competitions and keeping up with a rigorous academic schedule, it’s not uncommon for athletes attending D1 basketball colleges to dedicate themselves to the sport year-round. Division 1 basketball colleges are a great fit for basketball athletes interested in playing at the highest collegiate level—and have the work ethic, skillset and stamina to get there.
View the complete list of Division 1 basketball colleges.
Check out the best D1 basketball colleges.
D2 basketball colleges
There are more than 300 Division 2 basketball colleges throughout the U.S. Though many student-athletes have their sights set on competing at some of the top Division 1 basketball colleges, they’ll be surprised to find out D2 basketball colleges are also some of the top basketball schools in the nation. In fact, many student-athletes have the same athletic rigor and competitiveness as their D1 counterparts—and choose to compete at one of these D2 basketball colleges because the school is an overall better academic, social and financial fit.
Division 2 basketball colleges also require a high level of talent, commitment and hard work, as they also regularly appear in men’s college basketball rankings. Many student-athletes set their sights on competing at D2 basketball colleges because they offer a slightly less demanding schedule than D1 programs, allowing them to balance their passion and dedication for the sport with academics and extracurricular interests. However, landing a roster spot at a Division 2 college is just as competitive as Division 1—in fact, just like high-school athletes who go on to play at the D1 level, only 1% of players go on to attend and compete at one of the 304 D2 basketball colleges in the US.
D3 basketball colleges
There are more than 400 Division 3 basketball colleges located across the nation. While many student-athletes have their sights set on playing at D1 or D2 basketball colleges, competition at NCAA D3 basketball colleges is also fierce, with many elite athletes choosing to attend a D3 school to find the ultimate balance between athletics, academics and extracurricular interests.
As well as being the NCAA’s largest men’s basketball division with 420 member colleges, Division 3 basketball colleges provide student-athletes with an added level of flexibility than those at the D1 or D2 levels. D3 programs—trainings, games and both in and off-season practices are typically built around an athlete’s academic schedule and require less of a time commitment. However, this doesn’t exclude them from being some of the top men’s basketball colleges in the U.S. Competing at the D3 level still requires a high level of athletic rigor, as well as excellent academic standing, as many of these schools operate at peak academic caliber. In addition to being competitive athletically and academically, D3 basketball colleges provide a more balanced approach to athletics and offer student-athletes the chance to have a well-rounded college experience, allowing them to focus on their coursework, join a club, study abroad and more.
View the complete list of Division 3 basketball colleges.
Check out the best D3 basketball colleges.
NAIA basketball colleges
There are just over 200 NAIA basketball schools in the U.S. Though many basketball players are familiar with the NCAA division levels, it’s paramount not to overlook NAIA colleges with basketball teams. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics may not be as well-known as the NCAA, but don’t be fooled—the NAIA men’s basketball championships, for instance, is the longest-running championship at the collegiate level, starting two years earlier than those in the NCAA.
NAIA basketball schools are typically comprised of smaller colleges and universities and draw some similarities to NCAA division 3 basketball colleges. NAIA basketball schools are a better fit for student-athletes interested in smaller campuses and class sizes, a more balanced approach to athletics, academics and extracurricular interests, as well as a more flexible recruiting process. NAIA basketball schools allow athletes to juggle athletics and coursework with clubs and activities, part-time jobs or internships and even studying abroad. Additionally, while student-athletes interested in NAIA schools should register with the NAIA eligibility center, NAIA basketball schools do not have contact periods or recruiting rules, so student-athletes can contact coaches at any time and vice versa.
View the complete list of NAIA basketball schools.
Check out the best NAIA basketball schools.
Junior colleges with basketball teams
There are more than 600 junior colleges with basketball teams across the country. Starting out at JUCO a basketball college is an extremely popular choice among high-school basketball athletes interested in continuing to develop their athletic skills and boost their GPA. While most student-athletes have their eyes set on competing at four-year colleges and universities, it’s important not to exclude JUCO basketball from your target lists. In fact, many top men’s basketball schools continue to find recruits at JUCO basketball games and tournaments, and it’s extremely common for players to go on and play at D1 basketball colleges or D2 basketball colleges after one or two years spent gaining experience at the JUCO basketball level.
JUCO basketball colleges are a great stepping-stone for athletes who are uncertain of what division level they’d like to pursue, unsure of their desired major, or those who want to hone their skills to match up with the elite recruiting guidelines at their dream NCAA or NAIA basketball schools. Junior colleges with basketball teams also provide a great opportunity not only for athletes who need to develop their athleticism, but also for athletes who need to improve their grades before being continuing their collegiate career at a high-caliber academic four-year school. They are also considerably more affordable than four-year public and private universities, making them a cost-effective option for student-athletes who may not qualify for merit or need-based aid.
Learn more about JUCO basketball and view all colleges with junior basketball teams.
Men’s college basketball rankings and top basketball colleges
We analyzed NCSA Favorites data obtained from the college search activity of the over 137,000 men’s basketball recruits on the NCSA recruiting network, as well as U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, IPEDS graduation rate and cost after admissions data, to create the NCSA Power Rankings, which recognize the best basketball colleges.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA)
- Stanford University
- University of Michigan
- University of Florida
- University of Virginia
- Princeton University
- Duke University
- University of California
- Harvard University
These men’s college basketball rankings provide a unique look at the nation’s top men’s basketball colleges from both an athletic and academic standpoint. However, it’s important to note that men’s basketball athletes shouldn’t narrow their target list to just these ten schools. The top priority for men’s basketball athletes interested in pursuing their dreams of attending one of the 2,000+ basketball colleges should be finding the best basketball college fit, whether it’s at the NCAA, NAIA or JUCO basketball level.