Best and Worst College Jerseys in the History of Basketball

Best and Worst College Jerseys in the History of Basketball

Basketball is a small sport. There are only five players on the court, and there are no face masks or helmets to obscure your view of the players. Because college basketball teams are comprised of so few people, jerseys can make their players appear less intimidating as opposed to a football star bulked up in padding. 

It is important to have great colors and a great logo your team wears with confidence. While not everyone can be a winner, the minimum a school can do is provide a winning uniform, right? Unfortunately, we know this is not the case. 

Let’s take a look at some of the worst and best college jerseys basketball offers us.

The Best:

These are our five picks, and why we think that these are some of the best college jerseys basketball can offer. 

  1. Marquette
  2. Oregon
  3. Duke
  4. USC
  5. North Carolina


1. Marquette University

Marquette has it right and deserves to be #1 on anyone’s list of best college jerseys basketball has seen. Head coach Al Mcqguire got to Marquette in 1964, and literally just wanted to win basketball games (what a goal, right?). He allowed Bo Ellis, one of his great players, to study design. Ellis was passionate about basketball fashion and in an unprecedented move, coach Al agreed to let Ellis design the uniforms for the Marquette team. What they got was crazy colors and unique patterns that were designed to be untucked

Marquette has been pushing the envelope on basketball uniform design for well over 50 years, and continues to innovate with new jerseys. They just want to win, and they’ll do it in style. 


2. University of Oregon

It helps your jersey design when you have Nike in your corner. Phil Knight, a major contributor to Oregon’s athletic department, has integrated Nike products into all of the athletic programs at prices that work well for both Oregon athletics and Nike’s business model. The Duck’s green and yellow designs continue to be some of the quirkiest (quackiest?) highlights on a college basketball court. With tributes to the military, and now boasting uniforms that glow in the dark, the people that design Oregon basketball jerseys just keep doing ridiculous things, and yet it works because of the Nike brand and Oregon culture.


3. Duke University

A four-letter word on the front of your jersey makes for an even, pretty way to design a uniform. And from the “Duke” logo to the royal blue color scheme, Duke uniforms have an imposing flash to them as the players tear down the court. Supported by their legendary “Blue Devils” iconography, Duke uniforms have a class all their own. They’re even looking at new waistbands and side blue panels for the 2019-2020 season, continuing to innovate on their winning design.


4. University of Southern California

The crimson and gold uniforms of the Trojans are a well-known intimidation factor in the college football world, but this Southern California team also boasts a selection of great basketball jerseys. With the rise of California basketball culture in recent years through the explosion of the Clippers and Golden State Warriors, along with the timeless relevance of the Los Angeles Lakers and frontman Lebron James, USC basketball is bigger than ever before. As rivals to UCLA, they may not be the better team, but they do wear better jerseys. The color combination is unique, giving a vintage yet timeless look to their ‘fits. 


5. University of North Carolina

Ah, the place that Michael Jordan built. North Carolina baby-blue Tar Heels uniforms are basically a color class of their own. The powder blue mixes perfectly with the white lettering, creating an effortless design that blends well onto different body shapes and sizes. The white home jerseys have the powder blue “North Carolina” lettering, with a single stripe down either side. The away jerseys let the intimidating, fresh UNC blue dominate and invert the white markings onto the letters and numbers. Alternate jerseys are black with the powder blue markings. All in all, they’re eye catching, and arguably some of the best college basketball can offer their players. Slam dunk, am I right? 

The Worst

Of course, not all basketball jerseys are marks of greatness. Even some great teams out there have gone with color schemes and designs that feel tacky at best. Here are some of the worst college jerseys in basketball history: 

  1. Maryland
  2. Auburn and Florida (Tie)
  3. Kansas St.
  4. Wyoming
  5. Baylor


1. Maryland University

The Maryland Terrapins uniform is the villain to the heroics of the Marquette jerseys. While Marquette jerseys have a storied tradition of basketball players feeling empowered to design their own uniforms, Maryland uniforms are sort of like the kitsch version of that: all of the colors and unique textures, none of the charm. You do get the feeling that they’re a bit self-conscious about this fact.

And, understandably so—the design is pretty outlandish, and not in the good way. The red and white paisley, and black and yellow diamonds, haven’t found their place in great sports uniforms.


2. Auburn University and the University of Florida (Tie)

The teams from these two universities can boast about their home uniforms which actually look good: a white base with blue and orange accents. Their away uniforms, however, leave a lot to be desired. It seems like every year, these basketball teams try to do something different with away uniforms that are doomed to either be blue with orange accents, or orange with blue accents. And while their football teams look great, the colors don’t exactly make for an outstanding basketball uniformthere’s a reason that the Denver Broncos play football, and not basketball. The colors work better on a green grass that brings them together, instead of a sand-colored court that simply reflects the orange.


3. Kansas State University

The Wildcats are working with a purple and gray color scheme, which simply won’t get you very far in a world of sports jerseys. Either the purple dominates and makes you reminiscent of  the Minnesota Vikings or the gray dominates and you really wish that their was more dimension and vibrancy to the look. Kansas State’s uniforms are all-in-all underwhelming for spectators, providing little creativity or originality. 

One bold move the school made was resurfacing the lavender jersey for their uniform, embracing the vintage look in 2018. This dual-toned purple look provided a unique look we almost wish they kept season-to-season. 


4. University of Wyoming

Wyoming’s school colors are brown and yellow. Not sure whether to be impressed that they’ve managed to create a great institution out of those colors, or to be frustrated that they’ve never changed. For most of the country, Wyoming is simply the lesser “W” state, with Wisconsin having the iconic red and white jerseys.

Really, the issue with Wyoming’s basketball uniforms is that they’ve never managed to get the right shade of yellow. Either it’s a little too pastel and mixes poorly with the 90s office building brown, or it’s too bright and doesn’t look good with... the same 90s office building brown. Still, one gets the feeling that they’re just one new designer away from some really classy, old-school brown and yellow jerseys.


5. Baylor University

People generally hate the neon jerseys that Baylor had during the 2012 March Madness neon jersey debacle when Adidas pushed neon on every team in their market. That’s not really the problem with Baylor’s jerseys. Mostly, the frustration is the constant vacillation from neon green back to a darker green. Baylor is definitely emulating Oregon, and it isn’t working out. Baylor should take one stance and stick with it, choosing a green that works best for their team. 

Final Thoughts

Uniforms are the first impression anyone has of a team. As the old saying goes, if you look good, you feel good; a beautifully designed uniform can give you a team the confidence they need to perform well and win those games. While style isn’t everything, it does have an impact. 

Have a cool (or less-than-ideal) jersey you think we missed? Reach out to us on social; we love to hear your thoughts on your alma mater!

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