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Best Basketball Colleges: 2019 NCSA Power Rankings

Choosing the right college is a big decision for any high school basketball player. Where do you want to spend the next four years of your life? What do you want to study? Should you play NCAA D1 or D2? The rankings below are designed to get you started on your college search by learning about schools that you may not have thought to consider.

NCSA Power Rankings are based on proprietary analysis of NCSA Favorites data obtained from the college search activity of the over 2 million student-athletes on the NCSA recruiting network, U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, IPEDS graduation rates, and IPEDS average cost after aid.

The goal of these ranking is to help families find the right college fit athletically, academically, socially and financially.

Best Men’s Basketball Colleges

There are over 1,300 4-year colleges that offer opportunities to compete in men’s college basketball. The 2019 overall rankings are dominated by “name brand” schools at the top, with several NCAA D1 colleges, 12 NCAA D3 colleges and 1 NCAA D2 college.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Stanford University
University of Michigan
University of Florida

Top 100 Colleges for Men’s Basketball Student-Athletes

Best NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Colleges

There are over 350 NCAA D1 men’s basketball colleges, large and small, in all corners of the US. Fully funded programs can offer up to 13 scholarships per team. While many families know of the Power 5 schools they see on TV, this year’s rankings have a mix of colleges, showing that the “right college” is up to the recruit to find.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Stanford University
University of Michigan
University of Florida

Top 50 NCAA D1 Men’s Basketball Colleges

Best NCAA Division 2 Men’s Basketball Colleges

The NCAA D2 level has 300+ colleges with men’s basketball teams. Fully funded D2 basketball programs can offer up to 10 scholarships per team. While most student-athletes think of D1 schools when considering college, they are surprised to find that athletes at the D2 level often have the talent to be D1 but chose D2 for a better fit.

University of California – San Diego
Bentley University
Point Loma Nazarene University
California State Polytechnic University – Pomona
Rollins College

Top 50 NCAA D2 Men’s Basketball Colleges

Best NCAA Division 3 Men’s Basketball Colleges

There are over 400 men’s basketball colleges competing at the NCAA D3 level. While you may know NCAA D3 schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, most families don’t realize D3 athletes can get several other forms of financial aid (academic scholarships, grants and aid) that can make these schools competitive with any other division levels scholarship offer.

Johns Hopkins University
Emory University
Amherst College
University of California – Santa Cruz
California Institute of Technology

Top 50 NCAA D3 Men’s Basketball Colleges

Best NAIA Men’s Basketball Colleges

There are just over 200 colleges that have men’s basketball teams at the NAIA level. Fully funded teams can offer up to 11 scholarships per team. While an NAIA college might not have been the school you grew up dreaming about, with a little research, you might find it is just what you are looking for.

Asbury University
University of Michigan – Dearborn
Concordia University – Nebraska
St. Ambrose University
Bethel University – Indiana

Top 50 NAIA Men’s Basketball Colleges

Best Women’s Basketball Colleges

There are over 1,300 4-year colleges that offer opportunities to compete in women’s college basketball. The 2019 overall rankings are dominated by “name brand” schools at the top, with several NCAA D1 colleges, 13 NCAA D3 colleges and 2 NCAA D2 college.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Stanford University
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Princeton University
Harvard University

Top 100 Colleges for Women’s Basketball Student-Athletes

Best NCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Colleges

There are over 300 NCAA D1 women’s basketball colleges, large and small, in all corners of the US. Fully funded programs can offer up to 15 scholarships per team. While many families know of the Power 5 schools they see on TV, this year’s rankings have a mix of colleges, showing that the “right college” is up to the recruit to find.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Stanford University
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Princeton University
Harvard University

Top 50 NCAA D1 Women’s Basketball Colleges

Best NCAA Division 2 Women’s Basketball Colleges

The NCAA D2 level has 350+ colleges with women’s basketball teams. Fully funded D2 programs can offer up to 10 scholarships per team. While most student-athletes think of D1 schools when considering college, they are surprised to find that athletes at the D2 level often have the talent to be D1 but chose D2 for a better fit.

University of California – San Diego
Truman University
Regis University
Point Loma Nazarene University
Bentley University

Top 50 NCAA D2 Women’s Basketball Colleges

Best NCAA Division 3 Women’s Basketball Colleges

There are over 400 women’s basketball colleges competing at the NCAA D3 level. While you may know NCAA D3 schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, most families don’t realize D3 athletes can get several other forms of financial aid (academic scholarships, grants and aid) that can make these schools competitive with any other division levels scholarship offer.

Johns Hopkins University
Emory University
Amherst College
University of California – Santa Cruz
Franklin & Marshall College

Top 50 NCAA D3 Women’s Basketball Colleges

Best NAIA Women’s Basketball Colleges

There are just over 200 colleges that have women’s basketball teams at the NAIA level. Fully funded programs can offer up to 11 scholarships per team. While an NAIA college might not have been the school you grew up dreaming about, with a little research, you might find it is just what you are looking for.

Loyola University New Orleans
Indiana Wesleyan University
Taylor University
University of St. Thomas – Texas
Concordia University – Nebraska

Top 50 NAIA Women’s Basketball Colleges

What to look for in a college as a student-athlete

Student-athletes have even more to consider about a college than their non-athlete peers. Recent research published in an NCSA report shows that nearly 45% of college athletes aren’t listed on their teams roster the next year. In more basic terms, too many student-athletes are choosing colleges that aren’t the right fit and end up leaving the team. The below criteria can help families quickly decide if a school is worth considering.

Athletic Fit – This is less about knowing how good you need to be to play at a certain level and more about knowing what level is right for you. Would you rather be a starter and get significant playing time or compete at the highest level you can, even if you don’t see much game time?
Academic Fit – Having good grades ensures you will have more opportunities at the next level. But you also want to make sure you pick a school that has the major you might want and a manageable academic workload. It is okay if you don’t know these answers initially, like everything in the college search process, they can change.
Social Fit – Even before you get the opportunity to get to know a coach or the team, you should think about things like location, school size, weather, distance from home and other important factors. Once you get the opportunity to meet the coach and team, ask questions about coaching style, practice philosophies and how playing time is determined.
Financial Fit – Getting a full-ride athletic scholarship is far from the norm in college sports. Families should expect to cover some, if not all of the cost of college for some of the years in school. Rather than focus on just the sticker price of colleges, learn to evaluate schools on your expected contribution. You should know what you are prepared to pay. Realize that it takes time to understand what your final costs might actually be once you talk to a coach.

College List Template: How do I make my college list?

Knowing how to evaluate potential schools is only one part of the game. With so many unknowns in the recruiting process – will the coach stay, what if I get hurt, what if I get a lot better next year – you want to have a range of schools on your list. Below, we breakdown how to build a college list that will set you up for success.

Reach School (5-10 schools) – Everyone has a dream school. They might be a dream because you aren’t good enough athletically yet, your grades are borderline or maybe it is looks too expensive. You should always have these types of schools on your list because you never know what opportunities might open up, but don’t only have dream schools on your list or you risk never finding an opportunity at the next level. These are schools where you have a <5% chance of making on the team. Target School (10-20 schools) – These are schools you know you qualify for now or with a conservative estimate on how much better you will get in the near future. Keep in mind, even if a school is a good fit athletically or academically, you are competing against other recruits and there are no guarantees. These are schools where you stand a 25%+ chance of making the team and getting into the school.
Safety School (3-5 schools) – Imagine everything goes wrong, the coach quits last minute, you get a career ending injury or just have a big change of heart and decide to go another direction for college. You need safety schools on your list to ensure that, even in the worst-case scenario, you can still make progress towards your degree. These are schools where you have a 90%+ chance of getting in and making the team.

DistinctAthlete.com is an entertaining sports site. The site specializes in viral sports content. Content includes controversial and original opinions, news stories, off-beat stories, humorous videos, entertaining photos, exclusive interviews, and witty banter between the writers and commenters. Distinct Athlete was launched in May of 2012 and has been featured and/or cited on several prominent sports sites.

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