March Madness 2021: which university has the most championships?

There have been 36 different winners of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament ever since its birth in 1939. But which team has won the most titles?

March Madness 2021: which university has the most championships?

Ever since the first NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament in 1939, there have been 36 different winners, with UCLA having won the most with 11. Ahead of the 2021 edition of March Madness, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

UCLA lead the championship way

It’s been 81 years since the tournament’s inception and the first ever victory saw the Oregan Ducks beat Ohio State. The final score was 46-33 and that came on the back of a 29-5 season for the Ducks.

As mentioned above, The University of California, Los Angeles, better known as UCLA, have the most championship trophies in their cabinet. Incredibly, all but one of those 11 titles came in just 12 years, between 1964 and 1975, and seven back-to-back from 1967.

NCAA tournament championship wins:




UCLA 11 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1995
Kentucky 8 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998, 2012
North Carolina 6 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009, 2017
Duke 5 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010, 2015
Indiana 5 1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987
Connecticut 4 1999, 2004, 2011, 2014
Kansas 3 1952, 1988, 2008
Villanova 3 1985, 2016, 2018

It’s worth remembering that way back in the beginning of the tournament there were only eight teams competing. That changed in 1951 when another eight were added, and growth continued until 1985 when there was a 64-team format, which ran for 16 years. In 2001, the Mountain West Conference joined Division I taking the total to 65, and then, in 2011, three more were added, bringing us to where we are today.

March Madness: history highlights

Thanks to the NCAA, here are a few other points to note about the tournament:

- The term 'March Madness' was first used in reference to basketball by an Illinois high school official, Henry V. Porter, in 1939, although it wouldn't become associated with the NCAA tournament until Brent Musberger used it during coverage of the 1982 tournament.

- One Shining Moment, the anthem of March Madness, was first aired following the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 1987.

- Christian Laettner (Duke), is the NCAA tournament’s all-time leading scorer with 407 points. Only nine players have more than 300 points in March Madness.

- There have been 80 NCAA tournaments between 1939 and 2019. Kentucky has the most NCAA tournament appearances (58) and NCAA tournament wins (129).