With the NCAA Championship game just around the corner on April 4th it is always nice to flick through the annals of college sports history, to see if there are any lessons to be learned from what has transpired previously in NCAA March Madness campaigns.
It is also useful to be able to see exactly the sorts of teams that were able to dominate the competition, to such a degree that they have etched their legends in stone; becoming known as some of the best rosters ever to have existed in college basketball.
UCLA Bruins – 1972
You can get long odds on the UCLA Bruins to win the NCAA Championship in 2022, with most online bookmakers and betting tipsters having them as wide as +2,500 in the NCAA Championship odds lines. That was certainly not the case back in 1972, when head coach John Wooden put together one of the most formidable college basketball rosters ever seen. What made the team so special was that not only did they finish the season unbeaten, but they did so by outscoring every team they played by an average of more than 30 points. The odds of that happening in the modern game are practically zero, showing exactly the sort of supremacy that the Bruins commanded over their peers at the time.
There were many star players on the roster, but the standout performer was Bill Walton, who averaged a crazy 21+ points per game, as well as 15+ rebounds per game. It goes without saying that he was named the player of the year in 1972, and the team he led will be remembered forever.
Indiana Hoosiers – 1976
The 70s was a hot decade for NCAA basketball because while UCLA dominated its early years, it was the Indiana Hoosiers who took over as time wore on. Just like the Bruins under John Wooden, Bob Knight fashioned a roster so powerful that it went the entire season unbeaten and even polished off UCLA in the Championship game by an impressive score of 86-68.
The star names that had the Indiana faithful jumping in the bleachers were Kent Benson, Steve Green, and Scott May, all of whom struck fear into the hearts of the opposition. Benson never blew up in the NBA quite as he did in the NCAA, but still had stints at the Bucks, Pistons, Jazz, and Cavaliers. Green was even less successful, only lasting for three seasons at the Pacers. May did the best of the lot, bagging an Olympic gold medal as well as playing for the Bulls, Bucks, and Pistons. He also shone for a number of years in the Italian basketball league system.
The modern-day Hoosiers are a shell of their former self, with the current team having some of the longest odds in the NCAA to pull off a highly unlikely Championship title tilt.
Kentucky Wildcats – 2012
As the NCAA expanded and teams were required to play more games than ever before, it became virtually impossible to complete the perfect season, but the Kentucky Wildcats of 2012 came close, notching up a record 38 wins for their inspirational head coach, John Calipari. Other teams since 2012 have managed to match the feat of winning 38 games, but they were also Calipari creations.
The driving forces behind the Wildcat NCAA onslaught were a unique class of freshmen by the names of Kyle Wiltjr, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, and Marquis Teague. The rest is history, with Davis going on to become one of the most revered players of his generation and claiming the NBA Championship for the first time in 2020. He has also been an NBA All-Star on no less than eight occasions.
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