College basketball has brought us so many incredible teams that have had the talent, motivation, and attitude to win championships. But some of them have been so great that they almost personify perfection. Headed by inspirational coaches who put together a talented group of athletes with no-quit attitudes, their impressive seasons speak for themselves.
Here are five of the greatest National Collegiate Athletic Association teams to ever play men’s college basketball.
1. 1968 UCLA
With coach John Wooden at the helm, the 1968 Bruins had a dominant 29-1 record. They also were fortunate enough to have one of the greatest players in NCAA history, Lew Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). After dunking was temporarily outlawed in the sport, his innovative and un-guardable “sky hook” shot took the team a long way. Rounding out the starting five was Lucious Allen, Lynn Shackelford, Mike Warren, and Mike Lynn. Although they lost the “game of the century” against Houston for their only defeat, the Bruins came back in a huge way in the NCAA tournament by beating their opponents by an average of 21 points. They went on to thrash North Carolina in the championship game by 23.
2. 1976 Indiana
Finishing with an undefeated record, 32-0, the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers made coach Bobby Knight proud. They were led by the great Scott May, who helped the Hoosiers go all the way to beat Michigan, 86-68, in the national title game. Averaging 24 points and 8 rebounds per game, May took player of the year honors in ‘76. His supporting cast consisted of Bob Wilkerson, Quinn Buckner, Tom Abernethy, and Kent Benson. The Hoosiers were so tough that they beat their opponents by an average of 18 points. After bringing home a championship, coach Knight said, “I was just so pleased that the team won because it was one of the truly great college basketball teams.”
3. 1973 UCLA
UCLA’s championship run in 1973 was a special one because it was the school’s seventh straight title under Wooden and the year that it accomplished its record-breaking 61st consecutive victory. The team went 30-0 thanks to players like Larry Farmer, Greg Lee, Larry Hollyfield, and Jamaal (Keith) Wilkes. But 6-foot-11 Bill Walton was the athlete who dominated college basketball in ’73, averaging 20.4 points per game and 16.9 rebounds. Of all his great performances, he saved the best for the title game, when he scored 44 points on 21 of 22 shooting. Wilkes was great in his own right and averaged 14.8 points per game. The Bruins defeated Memphis in the final by a score of 87-66.
4. 1982 North Carolina
Any team with Michael Jordan on its roster has the chance to be great. And the North Carolina Tar Heels definitely got to that level in 1982, when they finished 32-2. Along with MJ, they were comprised of James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Matt Doherty, and Jimmy Black. Loaded with so much talent, Coach Dean Smith’s roster had 10 players who would eventually get drafted to the NBA. The Heels took down Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas in the NCAA championship game to win the title. Though the savvy freshman Jordan went on to become arguably the greatest player in the history of the game, Worthy was the guy who led the team in scoring, with 15.6 points per game. In the victory over the Hoyas, he wound up with 28 points and got the Final Four MVP award.
5. 1992 Duke University
Many remember the 1992 Duke team for the insane buzzer-beating shot by Christian Laettner to knock off Kentucky in the East Regional final game, but there was so much more. With amazing point guard Bobby Hurley, Antonio Lang, Grant Hill, and Thomas Hill, the Blue Devils were loaded with talent and finished with the season with a 34-2 record. Laettner was the guy who led the squad to back-to-back national titles and was the player of the year. He averaged 21.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game that season, but having Final Four MVP Hurley on the court was vital to his success. Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils beat Michigan in the title game by 20 points.