The Top NCAA Men's Teams of All Time
Certain colleges and universities are known for their legacies of strong basketball programs. UCLA, for example, has won a mindboggling 11 NCAA championships. But a few individual teams made such an impact on the game that they can be considered the best of all time.
The movie Hoosiers is loosely based on the true story of a small-town high school team in Indiana that beat a big-city school for the state championship.
1976 Indiana Hoosiers
The University of Indiana Hoosiers went 32-0 in 1976, the only Division I team that has ever gone undefeated. Led by coach Bobby Knight, the Hoosiers beat the defending champion UCLA Bruins in the Final Four and won the national championship in a game against their Big Ten rivals, the Michigan Wolverines. Indiana won its regular season games by an average of more than 17 points a game and had two All-Americans in Scott May and Quinn Buckner.
1992 Duke Blue Devils
The 1992 Duke men's basketball team had superstars in Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Grant Hill, but they played as a team the whole season. They were the defending national champions, and Mike Krzyzewski coached them to a 34-2 record in the regular season.
The top seeded Blue Devils breezed through the NCAA tournament — until they ran into Rick Pitino's Kentucky Wildcats in the Elite Eight. The two teams battled their way into overtime and Duke trailed 103-102 with only 2.1 seconds remaining. Christian caught a long pass from Grant, dribbled once, turned to the basket, and hit a 17-foot jumper to put the Blue Devils ahead just as time ran out.
Duke eked out a three-point win over Indiana in the Final Four and then ran away with an anticlimactic championship game against the University of Michigan's much hyped freshmen starters, the Fab Five.
In the 1982 title game, future NBA rivals Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing faced off against each other. Three years earlier, Magic Johnson's Michigan State Spartans defeated Larry Bird's Indiana State Sycamores in the most-watched title game ever. The Bird-Magic rivalry continued in the NBA, where they met in the finals in 1984, 1985, and 1987.
1996 Kentucky Wildcats
After losing to Duke in the 1992 Elite Eight, Rick Pitino led his Wildcats to a Final Four appearance in 1993. But his best team was the 1996 Wildcats, who went 34-2 and featured future first-round NBA picks Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Derek Anderson, and Ron Mercer. The Wildcats were at their best in the NCAA tournament, winning their six tourney games by an average of more than 20 points each.
1982 North Carolina Tar Heels
The 1982 University of North Carolina team had players like Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, and James Worthy. None of their opponents could figure out how to stop their powerful offense. The Tar Heels went 34-2 in the regular season and advanced to the national championship game against Georgetown. With 17 seconds remaining in the game, Michael launched a 17-foot jumper to clinch a 63-62 victory for the Tar Heels.
1974 North Carolina State Wolfpack
The 1974 North Carolina State Wolfpack went 30-1. It was led by highflying David Thompson, who would go on to star for the Denver Nuggets, and 5 foot 6 inches point guard Monte Towe. The Wolfpack could win any way needed, beating Maryland 103-100 for the Atlantic Coast Conference title and then taking down UCLA 80-77 in the NCAA semifinals before finishing it off with a 76-64 NCAA championship win over Marquette.
1968 UCLA Bruins
John Wooden's 1968 UCLA team lost to the University of Houston in the middle of the season but came back to trounce the same team in the NCAA tournament — by 32 points. UCLA had Lew Alcindor, who averaged 26 points and 16 rebounds a game. The Bruins downed North Carolina 78-55 to win the NCAA tournament.
1972 UCLA Bruins
John's 1972 UCLA Bruins dominated the landscape like no other team, before or since. They earned a perfect 30-0 record and beat opponents by an average of more than 32 points per game during the regular season. The team featured future NBA Hall of Fame center Bill Walton, who would later claim he was “embarrassed” by his play as UCLA beat Florida State by five, 81-76, in the NCAA championship game that year.
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Kareem owns eight UCLA records, including most field goals (943), most points in a season (870), and most points in a single game (61).