The Wolfpack became the first team since 1965-66 to defeat UCLA in NCAA tournament play, earning the first national title in school history with Final Four wins over the Bruins and the Marquette Warriors.
Center Tom Burleson would have been the hero of many other NCAA champions, as the 7’2” future Sonics standout averaged 18.1 points and 12.2 rebounds a night.
All five Blue Devil starters averaged at least 12.3 points a game, and only point guard Jay Williams (who dished out 6.1 assists a night) failed to pull down at least 5.2 boards per contest.
Magic Johnson was the driving force behind this team, but he wasn’t a one-person show. His classmate Jay Vincent (a future Dallas Maverick) was a solid complementary player as well. But the other key to MSU’s success was undersized PF Greg “Special K” Kelser and his team-leading 18.8 points and 8.7 boards a night.
Led by scoring machine Lennie Rosenbluth (28 points per game), UNC triumphed in one of the greatest championship games ever played, a triple-OT marathon against Wilt Chamberlain’s Kansas Jayhawks that went to UNC by a single point, 54-53.
Center Sam Perkins (14.3 points and 7.8 boards a night) was a long-range sniper who became an outstanding three-point shooter as a pro, while star SF James Worthy (15.6 points per contest) earned MOP honors in the tournament and moved on to a Hall of Fame career with the Showtime Lakers. By the way, they also had a freshman named Jordan.
Hall of Famer John Havlicek averaged just 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds a game in his college career because he was playing alongside Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas, who racked up 24.3 points and 17.2 points a night in a Buckeye uniform.
Four starters hit 40 percent or better from long range, and all five grabbed at least one steal a night for a team that set an NCAA tournament record by racking up an aggregate margin of victory of 129 points over six games.
Patrick Ewing was the leader of the Hoyas, who just may have been the best defensive team in NCAA basketball history.
Guards Walt Hazzard (later Mahdi Abdul-Rahman) and Gail Goodrich combined for 40.1 points a game before outstanding NBA careers, with Goodrich going on to the Hall of Fame after starring on the legendary 1971-72 Lakers.
Coach Phil Woolpert bucked contemporary prejudices with three black starters, including SG Hal Perry and PG K.C. Jones (a Hall of Famer for his stifling defense in Boston).
The third of those starters was the incomparable Bill Russell, a game-changing defender himself, who averaged 20 points and 20 rebounds a game for his college career as a prelude to the 11 titles he would win with the Celtics.
The heart and soul of this team, though, was the unstoppable Bill Walton, the Naismith Award winner in both seasons (and the next year as a senior), who averaged 20.3 points and 15.7 boards a game at UCLA before going on to a Hall of Fame pro career as a Blazer.
The very talented team who dominated almost everybody they played!
Although future Pistons All-Star Grant Hill would become by far the best pro of the group, at Duke, he was a supporting player to two of college hoops’ all-time legends.
Immortalized for his buzzer-beater against Kentucky in the 1992 Final Four, Christian Laettner racked up career totals of 2,460 points and 1,149 rebounds, while PG Bobby Hurley dealt out an NCAA record 1,076 assists.
7’2″ Lew Alcindor, the star center, would change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar only after averaging 26.4 points and 15.5 rebounds a game in college and winning an NBA title (the first of his six) with the Bucks. Plus, you had John Wooden as a head coach, and that doesn’t hurt.
The last undefeated champion! SG Bobby Wilkerson went on to a solid pro career in Denver, while center Kent Benson (the Final Four MOP) was no better than average in the NBA, but he was the perfect center in Coach Bob Knight’s offense.
Scott May—the Naismith Award winner and leading scorer with 23.5 points a night—became an excellent power forward for the Bulls, but the greatest pro success belonged to PG Quinn Buckner, a four-time All-Defensive selection who had his best years with the Bucks. In the Championship game, the Hoosiers lost star Bobby Wilkerson early in the game. Still, they pulled away in the second half to beat Michigan easily on their way to a National Championship.
No doubt a lot of the teams below Indiana on this list were more talented than the Hoosiers, but this was a perfect team that Coach Knight had built. Each player was brought in to fill a role, and every man on this team did just that.
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