Photos: Top 25 College Basketball Uniforms Ever

  • 25. Loyola Marymount (Bo Kimble Era)

    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.

    LMU’s current colors are crimson and navy blue, but back when Paul Westhead and his troops were running “The System” to high-scoring perfection, it was more of a crimson and grayish, robin’s egg blue. A quirky combination? Most definitely. But when it’s associated with perhaps the most beloved Cinderella ever, it just worked.

  • 24. Texas (T.J. Ford Era)

    As UT experienced a hoops renaissance in the early 2000s, stars like PG T.J. Ford made the burnt orange represent the same headiness, toughness and “Texas-ness” that it had represented when worn by the much more ballyhooed football team. Moreover, it was hard not to like the giant Longhorns logos on the sides of the shorts or the belt buckle-like block “T” on the waist. The current Western-style font UT uses on its jerseys? Lame.

  • 23. Indiana State (Larry Bird Era)

    Was it somewhat cheesy for the state of Indiana silhouette to form the first “I” in “Indiana” on their Larry Bird Era jerseys? Yes. But then again, there’s always been something quaintly cheesy about basketball in Indiana. The predominantly baby blue color of the whole ensemble just seals the deal.

  • 22. Michigan State (Magic Johnson Era)

    It’s a shame that the Spartans players didn’t don ultra-perm wigs against Michigan earlier this season, when they wore throwbacks from the Magic Johnson era - complete with a script “State” that made us misty-eyed with nostalgia. Among the litany of different uniforms that MSU has tried over the past 35 years or so, the script ones remain far and away our favorite.

  • 21. St. John’s (Chris Mullin Era)

    Arguably the high point of St. John’s basketball both in terms of on-court results and style came in the 1980s, when Chris Mullin starred in a deep-red jersey with “St. John’s” spelled out in old-school font. Perhaps in an effort to bring back memories of that heyday, the Red Storm started wearing the same style jerseys again this season for Big East games.

  • 20. Kansas State (Current)

    Once a study in overkill complete with renderings of cat-scratches and “shoulder pads,” the Wildcats went minimalist with their uniforms starting in the late 2000s. Gone were the aforementioned, superfluous garnishes in favor of clean uniforms that came in black, purple, gray and white. Most important: Going with a simple yet declarative “K-State” across the jersey. The purple jerseys are the best, by far.

  • 19. Oklahoma State (Doug Gottlieb Era)

    Like MSU, the Pokes’ uniforms just seem that much more legit when it’s a script “Cowboys” splashed across the chest rather than in a squarer font. The patterning on the bottom and sides of the shorts was very late 1990s-early 2000s in its boldness, but the black and orange color scheme (always a solid one) made it work.

  • 18. Duke (Grant Hill Era)

    Say what you will about the sport’s most polarizing program, the Blue Devils’ look has always been sharp. It’s changed slightly over the years (i.e. the stripe down the side, lining, material and backs) and call us a sucker for the ‘90s, but we love the old mesh look that’s so clean and makes the “D” logo on the shorts really pop.

  • 17. Arizona (Andre Iguodala Era)

    In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Arizona had one of the more popular sets of shorts on the consumer market. What sports nut didn’t love wearing something with “Cats” splashed in red down the sides and the awesome lining at the bottom? Even cooler was how former Wildcats standout Jason Terry had the same thing running down the sides of his knee-high socks. These need an immediate return to Tucson.

  • 16. Wake Forest (Tim Duncan Era)

    The Demon Deacons’ official colors are black and “old gold,” yet more often these days they opt for white at home and black on the road. As opposed to during the Tim Duncan Era in the mid-1990s, when Wake used to rock some awesomely shiny threads (the whites were also great). The shorts especially, with the interlocking “WF” on the sides and black and gold on the bottom, really made our day.

  • 15. Connecticut (Current)

    We decry a lot of modern-day changes to uniforms, yet what the Huskies did with the names on their jerseys has worked for us. Rather than continuing to jam “Connecticut” across the chest of the jerseys, they’ve mercifully shortened it to “UConn,” complete with a cool red outline of the “U.” It’s bolder and more declarative than the full state name, and the current unis are better and sharper than what the Huskies had in the Khalid El-Amin days.

  • 14. Utah (Keith Van Horn Era)

    The Utes (named after the Ute tribe) have started downplaying the Native American imagery as the NCAA has cracked down on politically incorrect nicknames and mascots. Which we understand, but it’s kind of a shame when it comes to the Utah uniforms of the late 1990s. Having the drum-and-feather logo form the “U” was always really cool, as was the fact that “Utah” was placed above a rendering of snow-covered mountains.

  • 13. Indiana (Current)

    You’re seemingly transported back in time whenever you watch an Indiana game and those crimson uniforms. Compare the current unis to, say, those worn by the Hoosiers when Isiah Thomas was starring for them in the early 1980s. Apart from the interlocking “IU” missing from the shorts on the current rendition, we have a hard time spotting any differences.

  • 12. Missouri (Anthony Peeler Era)

    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.”

  • 11. UNLV (Larry Johnson Era)

    The Runnin’ Rebels from the late 1980s and early 1990s were a take-no-prisoners kind of team. UNLV wasn’t messing around with their 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’ uniforms didn’t need to be flashy; they let their play do the talking.

  • 10. UMass (Marcus Camby Era)

    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.

  • 9. Arkansas (Corliss Williamson Era)

    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.

  • 8. Syracuse (John Wallace Era)

    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.

  • 7. Long Beach State (Current)

    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.

  • 6. Kansas (Kirk Hinrich Era)

    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.

  • 5. Cincinnati (Jordan Brand Era)

    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.

  • 4. Georgetown (Allen Iverson Era)

    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.

  • 3. Michigan (Fab Five Era)

    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.

  • 2. UCLA (Current)

    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?

  • 1. North Carolina (Jerry Stackhouse Era)

    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 1991-1992 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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