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The 25 Most Successful Schools Of The 21st Century In Football And Men's Basketball, Combined

Let’s pretend that you’re a high school student who has begun to look at colleges. When considering what school to attend, you have a list of qualities you want the prospective university to possess. It must have:

  • Good (enough) academics
  • A nice campus
  • A deep and talented co-ed population

And, perhaps most importantly, it needs to have good athletic teams—athletic teams that you actually care about. So the football and men’s basketball squads need to be elite. Ideally, the school will be national championship contenders on both the gridiron and the hardwood.

Using a scientific ranking system, we’ve tabulated the top 25 schools that have been most successful in football and men’s basketball since the 2000-01 season.

The teams were given points for postseason achievements: Bowl games in football and NCAA Tournament success in men's basketball. 

We built the points system with the intent of weighing football and men’s basketball evenly. Since reaching a bowl game is not as impressive as notching an NCAA Tournament bid, the point system is structured to reflect such.

Lastly, games that have been vacated by the NCAA were included on this list. If it happened on the field or the court, it counts in our ranking.

Points were attributed as follows:


  • BCS National Championship Game win—20
  • BCS National Championship Game loss—15
  • BCS bowl win—10
  • BCS bowl loss—8
  • BCS Bowls: Orange, Rose, Fiesta, Sugar
  • Second-tier bowl game win—8
  • Second-tier bowl game loss—6
  • Second Tier Bowls: Capital One (Citrus), Cotton, Chick-fil-A (Peach), Outback
  • Third-tier bowl game win—6
  • Third-tier bowl game loss—4
  • Third Tier Bowls: Alamo, Sun, Buffalo Wild Wings (Insight), Gator, Russell Athletic (Champs Sports), Holiday
  • Fourth-tier bowl game win—2
  • Fourth-tier bowl game loss—0
  • Fourth Tier Bowls: The Rest

Men’s basketball

  • National championship—20
  • National championship game loss—15
  • Final Four—12
  • Elite Eight—10
  • Sweet 16—8
  • Round of 32—6
  • NCAA Tournament appearance—4

Now that you’re aware of how we organized the data, here are the 25 most successful schools of the 21st century in football and men’s basketball.

24 (tie). Tennessee—106 points
24 (tie). Oklahoma State—106 points
23. West Virginia—108 points
22. Pittsburgh—110 points
21. Arizona—111 points
19 (tie). Notre Dame—113 points
19 (tie). Auburn—113 points
18. Kentucky—121 points
17. Michigan—123 points
16. North Carolina—124 points

Next: Programs Ranked 15-11 >>