There are just certain uniforms that epitomize everything we love about college basketball. For some, it’s because of their timelessness. Others simply looked cool based on the stars and teams who wore them. Here are our picks for the Top 25 College Basketball Uniforms Ever.
It's not just at Michigan where they have love for a block "M." For a program without a Final Four berth to its name, Mizzou sure made it easy to recognize them whenever they were playing on TV -- particularly in their yellow road road threads, with a white "M" setting the stage for a black "issouri."
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The Runnin' Rebels from the late 1980s and early 1990s were a take-no-prisoners kind of team. UNLV wasn't messing around with its uniforms either: A predominantly red ensemble with the school's initials splashed across the front of the jersey and white stripes with black trim lining the sides and the bottom of the shorts. The Rebels didn't need their uniforms to be flashy; they let their play do the talking.
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How could you not want to buy in to a "Refuse to Lose" mentality when you looked as good as the 1990s Minutemen? Marcus Camby and company had some of the more unique jerseys around, with a huge cursive "U" connected to a "Mass" whose font looked like something on a 1970s or 1980s movie poster. It was uniquely UMass, and uniquely cool.
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There are times when piping on the shorts and jerseys feels superfluous, yet that wasn’t the case for the Razorbacks when they were unleashing Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” on hapless opponents. If anything, it made Arkansas look as though they were running even faster than they actually were, a la streamers whipping in the wind. The excessively baggy shorts most associated with guard Scotty Thurman just made the look more legendary.
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Nowadays, Orange players look like they’re wearing oversized t-shirts with far too much gray on them to be called the “Orange.” It’s a shame because Syracuse used to have great unis. We loved the script look of the 1980s but the 'Cuse really topped itself with the threads they donned in the 1990s -- most prominently featured on the 1996 Final Four team led by John Wallace -- that had a creamsicle quality to them, a great font and excellent shorts featuring an awesome logo on the side.
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Rather than shy away from LBSU’s unofficial and surfer dude-sounding nickname of “The Beach,” 49ers athletics as a whole has embraced it. None more so than the basketball team, which splashed the nickname in a tiki-like font across the jerseys and even designed their home floor at Walter Pyramid to resemble the beach, complete with palm trees. That bold shade of yellow is a beauty.
Kansas is a place where tradition is sacred. One such tradition that sadly went by the wayside: The circus font on the Jayhawks’ uniforms, which harkened back to the days of Phog Allen. Alas, the KU administration switched to a Trajan font during the summer of 2007, much to the chagrin of many in the KU community. The current Jayhawks’ uniforms look like something fit for the WNBA.
A Bearcats team infamous for its rough play and toughness under Bob Huggins even looked the part in its sleek, Jordan Brand uniforms in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The white stripes pattern on the sides of the jerseys and the shorts were a nice modern-day touch without being over the top. Unlike, say, the cat scratch designs on the current incarnation of the Bearcats' ensemble.
As far as the Hoyas players were concerned, the addition of a kente cloth pattern to the sides of their jerseys and shorts in the mid-1990s was a swag thing. The West African design was totally unique to college hoops and sealed Georgetown's place as black America's favorite college basketball team. Just as cool: The program’s recent decision to bring the iconic design back after it had been absent for more than 15 years.
What made the Wolverines' uniforms from the early 1990s iconic was not just the uniforms themselves as much as how the Fab Five wore them: With baggy shorts, black socks, black shoes and tons of cockiness. Over time, UM’s beautiful bright yellow threads and the massive block "M" on the sides of the shorts became associated with this hip hop-inspired change to the style of basketball.
Perhaps as a nod to the great John Wooden and the hoops behemoth he built in Westwood, the Bruins' uniforms have barely changed since he stopped coaching. The predominantly "true blue" threads with gold trim and gold lettering remain almost exactly the same. Given its association with unprecedented college basketball excellence and timeless fashion, why bother ever changing it?
Where to start with a uniform that's almost universally regarded as college basketball's best? Perhaps with the color scheme of "Carolina blue" (you know a school's uniform is good when one of its colors is named after the school) and white. It's simple yet completely unique to the Tar Heels. Then there’s the addition of an argyle pattern on the sides of the jerseys and shorts prior to the 1991-92 season, which only made the perfect college basketball uniform that much more iconic.
There are subtle but notable differences between UNC's current uniforms and those in the 1990s: The material, font, short lining, jersey trim and backs. The '90s unis are better in each category, making them the greatest college basketball unis ever.
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