Undefeated College Basketball Teams

Seven Teams That Won the Ncaa Tournament Without a Single Loss

Seven teams have won the NCAA tournament without a single defeat to mar their records. Their stories include some of the most storied names in basketball history: Bill Russell. Frank McGuire. Lew Alcindor, John Wooden, and Bob Knight. These teams finished perfect seasons by taking home NCAA championships. 

 

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Bill Russell was one of the future NBA stars that led USF during their winning streak. Underwood Archives / Archive Photos / Getty Images

San Francisco's 1956 record of 29-0 was part of a 60-game winning streak that saw the Dons, led by future hall-of-famers Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, win the 1955 and 1956 NCAA Tournaments. Only 25 schools contended at that time in single-elimination play. This was the first time in NCAA Tournament history that the four regional divisions had their own names. Although the "Final Four" structure had been around since 1952, the regions weren't named.  More »

North Carolina Tar Heels Coach Frank McGuire and Joe Quigg
Jubilant North Carolina Tar Heel basketball players hoist Coach Frank McGuire (L) and Joe Quigg on their shoulders after defeating Kansas, 54-53, in a match for the NCAA title at Kansas City. Quigg's two free throws in the third overtime period turned the trick for top-ranked undefeated North Carolina. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Tar Heel coach Frank McGuire took a novel approach to scheduling. Carolina reached the Final Four after having played just eight home games. They won the title game in triple-overtime, beating a Kansas squad led by Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain took some heat in the press and from the public for the loss and he dropped out of school to go pro not too much later. The Tar Heels headed into the championship with a 31-0 record.  More »

1964: UCLA

Walt Hazzard Trying to Pass Ball
(Original Caption) UCLA's Walt Hazzard (left) is covered by NCAA Olympic All-Star's Wally Jones of Villanova as he looks for an opening to shoot or pass through during first half at Los Angeles Sports Arena 3/26. The NCAA Champion UCLA Bruins lost the exhibition game 86-72. During season play and playoff games UCLA had a perfect record, winning all 30 games played. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

The 1964 title was the first of John Wooden's record 10 NCAA championships, and the first of four seasons that the "Wizard of Westwood" would finish with an unblemished record. UCLA's undefeated season came in their 16th year under Wooden. 

1967: UCLA

Portrait of UCLA Basketball Players
(Original Caption) Team group shot of the UCLA University players after they won the NCAA Title beating Dayton. Lew Alcindor shown in center rear and coach John Wooden is on right rear. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

UCLA went undefeated again just three years later. Wooden, with some help from center Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, began a run of seven straight NCAA titles in 1967 with a 30-0 season. Alcindor was a sophomore that year, having been forced to sit out his freshman year thanks to NCAA rules forbidding freshmen the right to play. 

1972: UCLA

Bill Walton as a member of the UCLA Bruins
Bill Walton as a member of the UCLA Bruins. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wooden had lost Alcindor by 1972, but that didn't matter. The Bruins plugged sophomore Bill Walton in the middle and ran the table again in 1972. The Championship game against Florida State in March and topped off a 30-0 season. 

1973: UCLA

Bill Walton Blocking Basket from Steve Green
(Original Caption) UCLA's Bill Walton (32) blocks the basket as Indiana's Steve Green (34) tries to shoot in the second half of the UCLA-Indiana NCAA semifinal game, 3/24. Green is hemmed in by UCLA's Larry Farmer from behind. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

The Bruins were truly a force to be reckoned with during this era, but it was about to come to an end. The '72 and '73 seasons were part of a record 88-game winning streak that wasn't broken until the Bruins lost at Notre Dame by a heartbreaking score of 71-70 on January 19, 1974. It was Walton's last year with the school. 

Cheering Team with Arm Around Coach
(Original Caption) Baton Rouge: (NCAA MID EAST): Indiana coach Bobby Knight is mobbed by players and fans as he leaves the court in Baton Rouge 3/20 after his #1 ranked Hoosiers beat Marquette who were ranked #2 going into the final game of the Mid East regionals. Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

The '76 Hoosiers led by Kent Benson, Scott May and Quinn Buckner finished the season with a 32-0 record and the first of Bob Knight's three championships. The 1976 Final Four actually featured two undefeated teams. The other was Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights ran their record to 31-0 before losing to Michigan in the national semifinals. The Hoosiers fell just short of a national championship the year before as well when they lost to Kentucky.  More »

Times Have Changed

It's worth noting that these seven teams all turned the trick before the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. No championship team has been perfect since then.