Which programs are the most coveted jobs in college basketball?
College basketball might have a decent amount of upsets and parity, but don't get confused. Not every program or coaching job is created equal.
There are certain places that are better than others, whether it is due to tradition, location, recruiting base, fan support, financial resources or some combination of all of them. There are only a few truly "elite" jobs.
We decided to go through and rank the best 12 jobs in the country. If every job suddenly became open, this is where the top coaches would want to be.
Let's get started:
The Gators may not have the longstanding tradition that others on this list have, but the job is still a cushy one. Florida boasts a nice location and a tremendous recruiting base. They have won two national titles recently (2006 and 2007) and second-year head coach Mike White got the team back to the Elite Eight in 2017.
Additionally, the athletic department has tremendous resources, and the O'Connell Center is one of the most underrated home-court advantages in college hoops.
The Orange missed the NCAA Tournament this year, but are a March mainstay. The program has made two recent Final Fours (2013 and 2016) and has been to three national title games under Jim Boeheim, winning it all in 2003.
Now, the fact that Boeheim has been at 'Cuse since 1976 might hurt the program's ranking. Where will the Orange be once he leaves? Still, SU has a jewel of a basketball practice facility, a raucous home court and loyal fan base, and plays in the top conference in the country. Syracuse might not be the best location to recruit to, but whoever succeeds Boeheim shouldn't have too much trouble bringing in talent.
10. Michigan State
Sparty is synonymous with head coach Tom Izzo, but the program was viable even before he took over in 1995. Jud Heathcote made seven NCAA Tournaments and won a national title in 1979 with some guy named Magic Johnson playing point guard.
It is under Izzo, however, where the program has really stood out. MSU has made 20 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, seven Final Fours and captured one national championship in 2000. The Breslin Center is a fantastic place to play, MSU's athletic department is committed to hoops and the program lands quality recruits. Replacing Izzo won't be an easy task, but this is a good place to be.
Indiana's standing on this list is definitely up for debate. The Hoosiers could conceivably be moved up a few notches, or you could argue they don't belong in the top 12.
We think No. 9 is a fine spot. Yes, Indiana has made just four Sweet Sixteens and one Final Four in the last 23 years. Yes, the program isn't the cream of the college basketball crop anymore. Still, the Hoosiers have a tremendous tradition, one of the best local recruiting bases in the country, and a loyal and passionate fan base. The expectations from supporters might be a bit too high, but the right person can win here, and win big.
This is the sleeper on this list. Texas doesn't have a wealth of basketball tradition, but it absolutely is a tremendous job. Here's why.
First off, the Longhorns have a serious amount of cash to spend. Secondly, the state of Texas is loaded with blue-chip talent. Third, the facilities are excellent. And last, but not least, there isn't an overwhelming amount of pressure to win. Football is still king on campus, so basketball gets to operate in the shadows a bit. It has been a decade since the Longhorns advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, but this program seems like the proverbial sleeping giant.
Another program that could arguably be moved up or down a few notches. It is tough to match UCLA's past accomplishments, but what about looking ahead?
The Bruins haven't won it all since 1995, though the program did make three straight Final Fours from 2006-08. The brand of UCLA basketball isn't quite as strong as it used to be, but recruiting isn't a problem. The school is in the middle of a rich talent base, Los Angeles is a great location and Pauley Pavilion boasts a lot of history. You can debate where UCLA should be on this list, but you can't argue that it should be excluded.
Louisville isn't the premier program in its own state, but it is absolutely one of the best ones in the country. The Cards have a rabid fan base, excellent facilities and robust financial support.
You can recruit at Louisville with little problem, and the move to the ACC ensured that the Cards would continue to play in a marquee league. Rick Pitino brings name cache to this job, but there would be a lot of people clamoring for this gig if it opened.
Arizona's 16-year Final Four drought is a bit perplexing, but the program has reached a remarkable level of consistency. The Wildcats have missed only two NCAA Tournaments since 1985. Think about that.
Outside of Duke and Kentucky, has anyone landed more talent recently than Arizona? The Wildcats are a national brand and the program churns out pros. Throw in the school's commitment to hoops and a great home court and you have a top job.
The Blue Devils need very little introduction. They are a recruiting machine and have reached 12 Final Fours under Mike Krzyzewski, winning five national championships. Also, Cameron Indoor Stadium is an iconic home floor. What high school prospect wouldn't want to come to Durham?
So why is Duke "only" No. 4? Well, even though the Devils made four Final Fours and reached national status before Coach K, he has been in place since 1980 and has built the program into what it is today. There are always questions about what will happen to a team when a legendary head coach leaves, so that uncertainty keeps Duke here.
The Jayhawks have an unparalleled history. I mean, the program's first coach was James Naismith for crying out loud. Kansas has reached 14 Final Fours and won three national championships.
Bill Self just reloads in Lawrence, and even if some fans grumble that he's only won one national title, the Jayhawks are a contender every single year. They play in front of a tremendous fan base, in one of the country's best arenas, Phog Allen Fieldhouse. This is a plum gig if you can get it.
The Heels are the reigning national champions, the program's sixth national title. UNC has reached 20 Final Fours under five different head coaches.
Dean Smith might be Carolina's most famous head coach, but Roy Williams has taken the program to great heights. Also, the Carolina brand and tradition basically recruits itself. As Matt Doherty showed, not just anybody can do a good job here, but this is easily one of the most coveted jobs in the nation.
Okay, so perhaps this is a nice consolation prize after Kentucky's heartbreaking NCAA Tournament loss to UNC. The Wildcats beat out the Tar Heels here, for good reason.
There is no more fervent fan base in college basketball than Kentucky's. Yes, the pressure to win in Lexington is immense, but the support from fans and administrators is terrific. Kentucky's history (17 Final Fours, eight national titles) stands fine on its own, but John Calipari has built the UK brand into a force in the present. If you're a high school recruit with an NBA future, you want to play for the Wildcats.
Now, this is another program that isn't for everyone (looking at you, Billy Gillispie). But Kentucky is set up to succeed for the future, even if someone besides Coach Cal is leading the way.
What do you think of our rankings?