This is going to be a crazy column today on Pac-12 Friday, as we catch UCLA in the middle of a 13-year streak in winning the basketball title for the Conference of Champions. Apologies in advance, but there’s nothing we can about it.
On with the show …
Honorable Mention: 1977 UCLA Bruins (24-5)
Sadly, a team like this always will be considered a failure, because it lost to Idaho State in the Sweet 16 by one point. The only other non-conference loss was to No. 7 Notre Dame in the fourth game of the season. Otherwise, these Bruins did well, finishing 8th overall in the SRS.
10. 1976 UCLA Bruins (27-5)
This was the first Bruins team not coached by John Wooden since the 1940s, and all it did was reach the Final Four before losing to undefeated, No. 1 Indiana. Shame on those kids, right? In a strange coincidence, UCLA started the season with a 20-point loss to the Hoosiers as well.
9. 1979 UCLA Bruins (25-5)
This team reached No. 1 in the polls on February 20 before finishing the season ranked No. 2 before the NCAA Tournament eventually won by Magic Johnson and Michigan State over Larry Bird and No. 1 Indiana State. Think about that for a moment. The season ended in the Regional Final against No. 6 DePaul, however, and that meant it was a “failure” in Westwood.
8. 1971 USC Trojans (24-2)
Yep, this is not a clean UCLA sweep after all. This team finished second in the SRS and failed to make it to the NCAA Tournament as rules then only allowed one team from each league to dance. The Trojans’ losses were both to the Bruins by a combined 15 points, as USC ended up No. 5 in the polls.
7. 1971 UCLA Bruins (29-1)
A midseason loss to Notre Dame on the road was the only blemish for these national champs as the Bruins won their last five games—including the four in March Madness—over ranked teams by an average of nine points per game. Cal State Long Beach, ranked 16th, came the closest in that stretch, losing by just 2 points in the regionals.
6. 1975 UCLA Bruins (28-3)
This was Wooden’s farewell season/team, and the Bruins took their legendary coach out in style after not winning the championship the previous season. A one-point overtime win over Louisville in the Final Four was the closest UCLA came to dropping a tournament game, although there were other relative nail biters as well.
5. 1978 UCLA Bruins (25-3)
Perhaps one of the most underrated UCLA teams ever, obviously, this Bruins squad went undefeated in conference play, losing only to Notre Dame twice, both times on the road, by a combined 5 points. Then, in the first round of March Madness, No. 2 UCLA had to play No. 9 Kansas. After winning, the Bruins next faced No. 5 Arkansas in the Sweet 16 and lost. This team finished No. 1 in the SRS overall but got shafted by seeding.
4. 1970 UCLA Bruins (28-2)
This national champion played the most random opponents in the NCAA Tournament: Cal State Long Beach, Utah State, New Mexico State, and Jacksonville. The team started out 21-0 before losing a few meaningless conference games toward the end of the regular season. No one remembers that now, of course, as the Bruins won their fourth straight NCAA tourney.
3. 1974 UCLA Bruins (26-4)
After winning seven straight NCAA titles, this Bruins team lost in the Final Four to No. 1 North Carolina State in double OT. Overall, UCLA’s four losses came by a combined 13 points, including the famous midseason defeat at Notre Dame which ended the record 88-game winning streak. Sometimes, the shots just don’t fall, as the Bruins were still No. 1 in the overall SRS.
2. 1973 UCLA Bruins (30-0)
This team was pretty impressive, winning its four March Madness matchups by an average of 16 points per game. Only three teams came within single digits of beating the Bruins this season: Washington (lost by 9), Oregon State (lost by 6), and Stanford (lost by 6). That is just stunning.
1. 1972 UCLA Bruins (30-0)
This may be the greatest college basketball team ever. They won every game by an average of over 30 points each time. The Bruins won each NCAA Tournament game by an average of over 20 points, too. UCLA closed out March Madness in downtown Los Angeles, as well, to cap perfection.
Make sure to always check on the final day of the work week for another exciting installment of Pac-12 Fridays on the Daily McPlay!