Take a trip down memory lane and relive the glory days of college basketball. We're talking about the teams that defined an era, coached by legends like Bob Knight, John Wooden, Rick Pitino, John Thompson, Dean Smith, Jerry Tarkanian, and Coach K himself, Mike Krzyzewski. Lew Alcindor dominating the paint, Michael Jordan soaring through the air, Patrick Ewing swatting shots into the third row, and Larry Johnson ruling the court. These squads weren't just good; they were downright iconic. Each team capped off their seasons with the ultimate prize: a national title. These squads weren't just stacked with talent; they were fortified with experience. Unlike today's landscape, where freshman phenoms bolt for the NBA at the first scent of success, these teams marinated in college hoops culture, honing their skills and forging bonds that could withstand the fiercest competition. With current NIL deals and a looming salary cap, it's hard to imagine teams will ever replicate the dynasties of old. Join us as we countdown the top 10 college basketball teams of all time.
1971-1972 UCLA Bruins (30-0)
Head Coach: John Wooden G - Henry Bibby, G - Greg Lee, F - Jamaal "Silk" Wilkes, F - Larry Farmer, C - Bill Walton Bench: C - Swen Nater, G - Tommy Curtis, G - Larry Hollyfield
Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes, Swen Nater and Henry Bibby helped lead UCLA to an undefeated season in 1972. They won by an average margin of 32 points per game. The season was also part of UCLA's NCAA record 88-game winning streak. The UCLA streak contributed to a personal streak that lasted almost 5 years for head coach John Wooden. This teams basketball IQ was simply off the charts. Prior to joining the varsity team, Greg Lee (17.9 ppg), Jamaal Wilkes (20.0 ppg), and Bill Walton (18.1, 68.6 per cent) were members of the 20–0 Frosh team. The Bruins greatness can be summed up from Bill Walton's disappointed about his team's 81-76 victory over Florida State in the championship game. "I'm really embarrassed, I can't believe how bad I played. I'd have to say it was one of my worst games. We should have beat these guys with ease. I guess I should be happy that we won, but, in all honesty, I'm not.”
The team opened the season as the No. 1 team in both the AP and UPI polls. They faced an intense national schedule with multiple big time games scheduled outside their conference including Ohio State, Notre Dame and Texas. The team defeated opponents by an average of over 30 points a game. The most points that any team ever scored against them was 83 points, and they still won that game by 17. At the end of the season Bill Walton took home the Naismith College Player of the Year. Both Walton and Henry Bibby were named to the 1972 All-American First Team.
Head Coach: Rick Pitino G - Tony Delk, G - Derek Anderson, F- Antoine Walker, F - Walter McCarty, C - Mark Pope Bench: F - Ron Mercer, C - Nazr Mohammad, G - Jeff Sheppard, G - Wayne Turner
Known as "The Untouchables", this was the deepest college basketball team of all time. Kentucky featured 11 future NBA players on their rosters. Led by Ron Mercer, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Antoine Walker and Derek Anderson. Head coach Rick Pattino was able to keep elite talent, like freshman Ron Mercer happy while only playing 12 minutes a game. The Wildcats won their six tourney games by an average of 21 points. They used relentless defensive pressure, uptempo offense and great depth to dominate throughout the season. For an example of the destruction they caused opponents check out their first half route of LSU in conference play. The closest anyone got to beating them in the NCAA Tournament was seven points.
That season the Cats reeled off a school-record 27 consecutive wins, as they became the first team in 40 years to go undefeated (16-0) in SEC play. “I just remember beating teams so bad — just seeing guys actually quit. It was fun, but it was almost like a thrill to see guys give in to our pressure,”“It was physically impossible to outlast us in any game,” Derek Anderson said. Kentucky’s Elite Eight matchup resulted with a 83-63 win over the Tim Duncan-led Wake Forest Demon Deacons. In the 1996 Final 4 they defeated number one seed U-Mass and lottery pick Marcus Camby. In the final they took on 4th seeded Syracuse. They went on to win 76-67 behind Tony Delk’s 24 points and Antointe Walker’s 9 rebounds. Some people think the 2012 Kentucky team was better, simply put they are wrong.
Margin of Victory: 22 ppg
Notable Wins: Utah, Wake Forrest, Mass, Syracuse, Miss State, Florida, LSU, Indiana, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Louisville
1966-1967 UCLA Bruins (30-0)
Head Coach: John Wooden G - Mike Warren, G - Lucius Allen, G - Kenny Heitz, F - Lynn Shackleford, C - Lew Alcindor Bench: G - Bill Week, F - Jim Nieslsen, G - Gene Sutherland
This was John Wooden's first truly dominate team. The Bruins went undefeated going wire to wire as the number one team in America. The team was led by starters Lew Alcindor, Lucius Allen, Lynn Shackleford, Mike Warren and Kenny Heitz. Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) had his best individual year averaging 29 points per game (still a school record) to go along with 15 rebounds per game. At the end of the year he was named a First Team All-American and College Player of the Year. In the tournament they left no doubt, crushing teams by 15 or more points in each game. Alcindor also took home tournament MOP honors.
The Bruins entered the season ranked number 1, beginning what was then the most consecutive weeks ranked in the AP poll. This was the season Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, debuted on to the college basketball scene. After playing on the freshman team under then NCAA rules, Alcindor dominated at the varsity level as a sophomore, leading UCLA to an undefeated 30–0 record while averaging 29.0 points and 15.5 rebounds. The dunk was banned in college basketball after the season, primarily because of Alcindor's dominant use of the shot. Three other players averaged in double figures, including sophomore guard Lucius Allen and junior Mike Warren.
Margin of Victory: 25.9 ppg
Notable Wins: USC, Cal, Dayton, Houston, Georgia Tech, Duke
1975-1976 Indiana Hoosiers (32-0)
Head Coach: Bob Knight G - Quinn Buckner, G - Bobby Wilkerson, F - Tom Abernathy, F - Scott May, C - Kent Benson Bench: F - Wayne Radford, G - Jim Crews, F - Rich Valavicius
The last known undeafted team in college basketball history. Scott May, Kent Benson and Quinn Buckner were All-America selections in both 1975 and 1976 seasons helping to lead the Hoosiers to the 1976 title. Over the 1975 and 1976 seasons the Hoosiers went 63-1. On the season, Indiana outscored opponents by an average margin of 17 ppg. Thought by many of Bobby Knight's "critics" to be his best team. The 76 team was truly a defensive standout, a hallmark that Knight himself couldn't be prouder of.
The team entered the season ranked No. 1. In a preseason exhibition game against the reigning World Champion, the Soviet National Team, the Hoosiers won by a convincing 94–78 margin. The Soviet team included two stars from their gold medal team in 1972, Aleksandr Belov and Sergei Belov. The game was played before a sellout crowd of 17,377 at the new (now-defunct) Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. Star Scott May scored 34 points on 13-for-15 shooting. The Hoosiers then opened the season with an 84–64 win over the reigning NCAA National Champion, UCLA. The game was played in St. Louis as one of the first made-for-TV games in college history, with the starting time at 11 p.m. for maximum national airing. May scored 33 points. They were dominant in the NCAA Tournament, beating Alabama, Marquette and UCLA to advance to the Championship game against Michigan. To win the title Indiana got a combined 51 points from Scott May and Kent Benson and a superb performance by Quinn Buckner. They won with ease 86-68. At the end of the season Scott May was named the National Player of the Year and Kent Benson was named the NCAA Tournament MVP.
Margin of Victory: 17 ppg
Notable Wins: Michigan State, Soviet National Team, Purdue, UCLA, Florida State, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Ohio State, St. Johns, Marquette, Michigan
1991-1992 Duke Blue Devils (34-2)
Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski G - Bobby Hurley, G - Thomas Hill, F - Grant Hill, F - Christan Laettner, F - Brian Davis Bench: F - Antonio Lang, F - Cherokee Parks, C - Eric Meek
Grant Hill, Christan Laettner, Bobby Hurley helped Duke to 2 straight National Titles. The Blue Devils won their second straight NCAA title in 1992. The team was truly an embarrassment of riches, which diverse talent all over the floor. Christian Laettner was as good of a college player as there was in the 90's. At the end of the season Laettner took home every major award including the AP National Player of the Year and the Naismith Award. He became the only player to start in four consecutive final 4 appearances. Point guard Bobby Hurley played the role of John Stockton for the devils. Future NBA superstar Grant Hill did a little of everything for Duke, displaying unlimited future potential.
Coach K’s Blue Devils started the 1991-1992 season ranked No. 1 and they rolled off their first 17 games. Their unbeaten streak came to an end when they lost a close contest to North Carolina in the Dean Dome by a score of 75–73. However, Duke would only lose another game (to Wake Forest 72–68) for the rest of the season and finished the season with a 25–2 record and the 10th regular-season championship in school history. They placed in 3 iconic 1992 NCAA tournament games including their Elite Eight matchup with Jamal Mashburn’s Kentucky Wildcats. Duke won on perhaps the best shot in college basketball history, as Grant Hill passed it the length of the court to Christian Laettner for the turn around game winner. In the Final 4 they faced Coach K’s college coach Bob Knight, they beat the Hoosiers in a close 81-78 contest. In the National Championship they were able to dismantle Michigan's iconic Fab Five in the final with a 71-51 victory. They were first repeating team since UCLA's seven-year dynasty from 1967 to 1973. Since 1980 only this Duke team and the 2007 Florida Gators were able to repeat as champs.
Margin of Victory: 15.4 ppg
Notable Wins: Indiana, St. Johns, Michigan, Georgia Tech, UCLA, North Carolina, LSU, Kentucky
1955-1956 San Francisco Dons (29-0)
Head Coach: Phil Woolpert G - Hal Perry, G - KC Jones, F - Carl Boldt, F - Mike Farmer, C - Bill Russell Bench: G - Gene Brown, F - Mike Preseau, F - Bill Mallen
The oldest team on our list. San Francisco isn't exactly thought of as an NBA factory. However back in the 1950's things were much different. Future NBA teammates Bill Russell and KC Jones helped lead the Dons to back to back championships in the 50's. Going into the National Championship in 1956 their unbeaten streak had reached 55 games. During the 56 season San Francisco hadn't won a regular season game by less than seven points. They dominated the opposition by more than 20 points per game. Jones and Russell helped to form a dominate defense that couldn't be beat. One sports writer commented that their second string would have been the second best team in the country.
In his senior season Russel averaged 20.6 points and a whopping 21 rebounds per outing. Future pro KC Jones chipped in with 10 points and 5 rebounds. While future pro Mike Farmer averaged 8 points and 8 rebounds. They won the NCAA tournament in dominant style, winning each game by 12 points or more. In the final they drafted Iowa 83-71, led by Bill Russell’s 26 points and 27 rebounds.
Head Coach: John Thompson G - Michael Jackson, G - David Wingate, F - Reggie Williams, F - Bill Martin, C - Patrick Ewing Bench: F - Michael Graham, G - Horace Broadnax
The Hoyas were straight up intimidating, employing prison yard rules even before the NBA's Detroit Pistons. Led by future NBA talent Patrick Ewing, Reggie Williams, David Wingate, Michael Jackson and Bill Martin the Hoyas dominated on their way to the Championship. Georgetown helped bring the newly formed Big East conference into national spotlight. The Hoyas lost by two points against DePaul and Villanova, and by only four to St Johns when then junior guard Chris Mullin scored 33. This team personified coach John Thompson with intimidation, defensive mindset, toughness, teamwork and athleticism. At a time when college basketball was at its peak, this team found a way to dismantle almost everyone they played.
They lost by a combined total of 8 points in there 3 losses. They were able to avenge 2 of those losses, beating each time after they initially lost. In the NCAA tournament they steam rolled competition, except for a narrow first round escape against SMU. They beat Kentucky by holding them to 40 points in the Final 4 matchup. The Championship game was a Georgetown domination as they beat Houston’s Phi Slama Jama 84-75. The Hoyas could have made it 2 straight championships, however a underdog Villanova team upset them in the 1985 final. They remain the only Georgetown men's basketball team to win a national championship.
Margin of Victory: 16.4 ppg Notable Wins: Houston, Syracuse, Villanova, St. Johns, Kentucky, UNLV
1981-1982 North Carolina Tarheels (32-2)
Head Coach: Dean Smith G - Jimmy Black, G - Michael Jordan, F - James Worthy, F - Matt Doherty, C - Sam Perkins Bench: G - Buzz Peterson, F - Cecil Exum, G - Lynwood Robinson
Although a young team, Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Sam Perkins and Dean Smith formed the necessary parts to form a Championship team in the 82 season. On the season a freshman guard named Michael Jordan averaged 13 points and 4 rebounds per game. The title was the first for Legendary coach Dean Smith. Worthy was a dominant force averaging 15 points and 6 rebounds, before being chosen as the number one pick in the 1982 NBA draft. Future Seattle Sonic Sam Perkins started at center, the New York native averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per night. Some think that this team was the best to ever come out of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
They played a series of nail bitters in the NCAA tournament. Including a narrow 2 point win in the opening round against James Madison. In their first Final 4 matchup they faced Houston’s Phi Slama Jama, they were able to escape with a 68-63 victory. In the NCAA tournament final they beat a heavily favored Georgetown team, as Michael Jordan hit the game winning shot in the final seconds (giving glimpses into Jordan's future). James Worthy was named the tournament Most Outstanding player after leading North Carolina with 28 points and 4 rebounds in the final.
Head Coach: Jerry Tarkanian G - Greg Anthony, G - Anderson Hunt, F - Stacey Augmon, F - Larry Johnson, C - David Butler Bench: F - Moses Scurry, F - Barry Young, G - Travis Bice, F - Chris Jeter
Not your typical blue blood school that is typically thought of as the best college basketball programs. Head coach Jerry Tarkanian deserves all the credit in the world for his ability to put together a dominant roster. Featuring All-Americans Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony the high scoring, fast pace Rebels won the title in 1990. Smashing most of their adversaries, the Runnin Rebels routed future dynasty Duke by 30 points to capture the National Championship. The team had great scoring balance as guard Anderson Hunt was named the final four most valuable player. Along with Georgetown of the early 80's and Michigan's Fab Five no team has has had a bigger effect on street fashion than these Runnin Rebels. The 1991 season would see UNLV go undefeated until they lost to Duke in the 1991 Championship game.
The team was filled with length and skill. Versatile forwards Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon set the tone for the Running Rebels. Johnson averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds for the season. While the Plasticman averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. UNLV had the largest accumulated victory margin (112 points), over the entire tournament by a championship team that played 6 games. To date it is the fifth-largest. The Rebels 571 points over six games set the record for most points scored by a single team in any one year of the tournament. UNLV's 30-point margin of victory over Duke in the championship game is also a tournament record. Johnson, Augmon and Anthony would all go on to be first round picks in the NBA draft. This team had Las Vegas more excited about College Sports than any other time in history.
Margin of Victory: 15 ppg
Notable Wins: Duke, Soviet National Team, Long Beach State, Iowa, Arkansas, Arizona, Ohio State, Georgia Tech
2006-2007 Florida Gators (35-5)
Head Coach: Billy Donovan
G - Taurean Green, G - Lee Humphrey, F - Corey Brewer, F - Al Horford, C - Joakim Noah Bench: C - Chris Richard, F - Marreese Speights, F - Dan Werner
The 2007 Florida Gators repeated as National Champs beating Ohio State in the final. Led by a strong inside game, the Gators beat opponents by an average of 14 point per game. Joakim Noah and Al Horford led the way inside while Corey Brewer and Lee Humphrey kept the defense honest. Freshman Marreese Speights came off the bench to provide depth for Florida. Noah, Horford and Brewer decided to spurn the NBA and come back to school for their junior season, after winning the championship the prior year.
Their closest contest in the NCAA tournament was 7 points against Purdue in the second round. They beat up on Oregon 85-77 behind 21 points from Lee Humphrey. In a rematch of the 2006 title game Florida took on UCLA in the Final 4. The result was the same as the previous year as Florida won, behind 19 points from Corey Brewer. They took on a pair of future lottery picks in Greg Oden and Mike Conley in the Championship game. Oden and Conley combined for 45 points, but it was not enough as Florida won 84-75. Joakim Noah went on to become a All-Star with the Chicago Bulls, he was named the 2012 NBA defensive player of the year. Al Hereford was a prime time performer in the NBA making multiple All-Star teams. Corey Brewer would play 10 plus years in the league as a contributing role player.