The UMass Minutemen basketball team, also known as the Massachusetts Minutemen, represents the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts in NCAA Division I men's competition. (UMass women's teams and athletes are known as Minutewomen.) The Minutemen, who currently compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference, last played in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in 1998. The head coach of the UMass Minutemen men's basketball team is Derek Kellogg.
Before the 1990s, the Minutemen's basketball program was not regarded as a great basketball powerhouse. However, a new coach by the name of John Calipari took over the head coaching job at the time, and he helped the Minutemen become A-10 Tournament Champs 5 consecutive times (1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96), and appeared in the NCAA Tournament 8 times, including two appearances in the Elite Eight (1995, 1996) and a Final Four appearance (1996) that resulted in third place, the highest ever for the Minutemen. In the 1990s, the Minutemen were frequently ranked first in the Associated Press season polls. Any postseason action by the Minutemen after 1998 has either been none or NIT action. 2007-08 postseason action saw the Minutemen to the 2008 NIT final game, where they lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes 85-92.
Until recently, Massachusetts and Connecticut played in the "U-Game," a reference to the two schools' nicknames, UMass and UConn, respectively. The last "U-Game" was played in 2004, a game won by the Minutemen 61-59.
Perhaps the school's most recognizable coach was John Calipari. At UMass, Calipari took a team previously in a NCAA drought to its first NCAA tournament in 30 years, in 1992. In the next few seasons, Calipari would take the team to new heights, like the Sweet Sixteen (1993) and the Elite Eight (1995), as well as No. 1 rankings in the AP weekly poll. In 1996, a rare trip to the Final Four and third place was achieved by the Minutemen for the first time. After the 1996 season, Calipari left the team to coach the NBA team, the New Jersey Nets.
In 2005, Travis Ford replaced Lappas. Ford is a former head coach at Campbellsville University and Eastern Kentucky University. The 1994 Kentucky graduate actually began collegiate play at the University of Missouri, where he played as a freshman. At Missouri, Ford made the Big Eight Conference All-Freshmen Team. At Kentucky, he set school records and was named the 1993 Southeast Region MVP in the 1993 NCAA Tournament. Following the 2007-08 season, his fourth with the Minutemen, he left to take the head coaching vacancy at Oklahoma State.
On April 23, 2008, former Minutemen player Derek Kellogg returned to Amherst and became the 21st coach of the program.
The Minutemen have appeared in 8 NCAA Tournaments. Their combined record is 11-8.
One more former UMass hoops star was George "Trigger" Burke, for whom the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame is named after.