College Basketball’s 10 Best Uniforms
College sports are about pageantry. That’s why fans, alumni and, yes, uniforms are just as big a part of a program as anything else.
In light of Nike’s tour-de-force through college hoops and its unis, we examine the sport’s Top 10 uniforms in their traditional form.
10. Michigan State
Some high-profile programs like Kansas, Syracuse and Georgetown are completely off this list because they botched previously great unis. That allowed Michigan State to land at No. 10. The Spartans seemingly changed their unis every single season but let’s hope these stay for a while. The dark hunter green is a sight to behold and “Spartans” across the chest is a big upgrade from “State.” We’re not sure what an ancient Greek warrior font is supposed to look like, but Nike nailed it with this.
The block letter “M” on the front of the jerseys was more iconic, but we still like the present-day Tigers uniforms that stand out thanks to a brown mustard look that the Tigers pull off. We’re also a fan of the thick black collar and shortened version of the school’s name, “Mizzou,” which is splashed across the chest in capital letters. But come to think of it, the Tigers would look good playing games in their pajamas this season as they are now the second-ranked team in the country.
Here’s the thing about Kentucky basketball: It always seems like a wave of blue has arrived wherever the Wildcats are playing. “Big Blue Nation” is one of the best fanbases in sports. In addition to that loyalty, it’s the swath of UK’s particular shade of the color that engulfs the rest of college basketball. The rest of the uniform is simple - with a white Kentucky on the front. Our one critique? Lose the shorts that have an unexplained patch of white below a “UK” logo. Don’t tell the Wildcats’ passionate fans that the look isn’t perfect.
It’s always unpopular to say good things about Duke. The Blue Devils are like the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, either you love ‘em or hate ‘em - but mostly they are the target of ridicule. We have nothing bad to say about their sharp, clean uniforms - though we actually prefer the whites since there is no black on them. And the shorts, which combine the two aforementioned colors, with the school’s “D” logo are simply awesome. Maybe the uniforms alone can sell some tickets at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Two words: Old school. When we think of Indiana basketball, it’s hard not to picture coach Bob Knight in his red sweater. But while Knight wasn’t exactly the picture of stoicism on the sideline, the Hoosiers’ dark-red uniforms are some of the classiest in sports. They scream tradition and are memorable alongside the electric Alumni Hall to form an incredible game-day experience. We love the minimalist shorts and throw in IU’s famous striped warm-up pants and you have an unbeatable combination in Bloomington, where they’re as passionate about basketball as anywhere in the country.
The incredible basketball tradition in the desert is only enhanced by their wonderful uniforms that combine an extremely dark blue with red font. If these threads don’t pop off your television screen - or even off the court if you are watching the team in person - then no uniforms will. But we can’t help but picture the sweet shorts with white along the side that Mike Bibby, Miles Simon and Jason Terry wore en route to the 1997 national championship. Where art thou?
During Jim Calhoun’s tenure at Connecticut, the Huskies have come out of nowhere to become one of the nation’s power programs. They also now boast some of the sharpest uniforms in the country. The navy blue with the familiar cut-off style around the shoulders also sports “UCONN” across the chest with the “U” in red and “CONN” in white. It’s a great combination that helps us identify with Huskies’ three national championships and their constant presence in March.
Now that we’re in an election year, can we have a presidential platform that includes a mandate that the Wolverines always wear maize uniforms? It’s a gorgeous look that became famous during the Fab Five era - though Jalen Rose, Chris Webber and company had an even better look but the current threads are still outstanding. The current dark blue jerseys, which are sometimes used, should be retired so we can permanently bask in maize glory.
How can UCLA not be near the top of any college basketball list? Well, except the national rankings this season. The Bruins are perhaps the sport’s signature program that features legendary coach John Wooden and stars Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton among a host of others. We can add their light-blue uniforms with the yellow that helps the “UCLA” and numbers pop off the threads. We think they should wear their white unis less and give us more blue heaven.
Jason O. Watson/US Presswire
1. North Carolina
Was there any question? We are one step away from “Carolina Blue” becoming an official color. We all know what it looks like; it’s the powder-blue crush that fills the Dean Dome and conjures up memories of college basketball past. Michael Jordan and James Worthy wore it; Raymond Felton and Sean May did, too. Now Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller represent Chapel Hill - one of college basketball’s capital cities - with the classic unis that are easy on the eyes. Throw in the hint of white, the amazing diamond pattern on the side and the great font on the jerseys, and you have yourself a masterpiece.