With all apologies to the Big Ten, there is no question that the SEC is the best conference in college football. The results over the last few decades speak for themselves. However, the SEC tends to get a bad reputation when it comes to college basketball. While that reputation isn’t entirely unfounded, the league has a lot more basketball tradition than most people realize. To prove our point, let’s take a closer look at the best basketball programs in SEC history.
5. Florida Gators
The Gators don’t have as much history as some of the other basketball programs in the SEC. However, Florida has done a great job of trying to make up for lost time.
The Gators didn’t make their first NCAA Tournament until 1987, but Lon Kruger got things going and then the program thrived under Billy Donovan for many years. Since the mid-90s, we’ve seen Florida in the Final Four five times and win back-to-back national championships, which is enough to get them into the top-5 of SEC programs.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide
Long overshadowed by its prestigious football program and all of those national championships won by Bear Bryant and Nick Saban, Alabama basketball is something special.
The Crimson Tide have the third-most SEC wins, the third-most SEC regular-season titles, and the second-most SEC Tournament titles. The only thing holding back Alabama is a lack of Final Four appearances and just one Elite Eight trip. But within SEC play, the Crimson Tide has had great success over the years.
3. Tennessee Volunteers
Since the 1960s, the Volunteers have consistently been one of the top basketball programs in the SEC. While Tennessee is still missing a Final Four appearance, the Volunteers have the second-most wins in SEC history.
They’ve also won their fair share of conference championships, although most of them are a few decades in the past. Nevertheless, Tennessee has always produced winning seasons and All-Americans, helping earn the SEC a little respect.
2. Arkansas Razorbacks
It’s far too common for people to forget the prowess the Razorbacks have on the basketball court. Arkansas ranks among the top-25 programs all-time in both wins and winning percentage, not to mention six Final Four appearances.
In fact, the Razorbacks were the SEC’s first bonafide powerhouse back in the 1920s and 30s. The Hogs then had an incredible run in the 1970s and 80s under Eddie Sutton before Nolan Richardson made them a national powerhouse in the late 80s and early 90s, ultimately winning the 1994 national championship. Historically, there’s only one SEC program that has accomplished more.
1. Kentucky Wildcats
It’s a no-brainer that Kentucky is the greatest basketball program in SEC history. Frankly, the Wildcats are the most successful program of all-time if you judge based on wins, winning percentage, NCAA Tournament wins, and Sweet 16 appearances.
From Adolph Rupp to John Calipari, there has been a long string of successful coaches at Kentucky, helping the Wildcats capture eight national championships and counting. Honestly, Kentucky could stop playing basketball today, and in 100 years, no other SEC program would come close to matching its long list of accomplishments.