Here we go again on Pac-12 Friday with our continuing look at the best B1G basketball teams. While the Pac-12 was dominating the 1960s with the advent of the UCLA dynasty, what was going on across the country with the other top conference of the time period? That’s why we are here: to answer that question.
Hope you like the “answers” below, because the B1G was pretty good in the 1960s, overall …
Honorable Mention: 1966 Michigan Wolverines (18-8)
The B1G champs for the third season in a row, the No. 9 Wolverines got bounced in the regional finals against No. 1 Kentucky. However, Michigan did beat No. 10 Western Kentucky in its first NCAA Tournament game. The 11-3 record in league play included all three losses coming by single digits, but the Wolverines started the season with a No. 2 ranking, so the end result had to be a bit disappointing for Michigan.
10. 1963 Ohio State Buckeyes (20-4)
The school was coming off three straight appearances in the national title game (see below), and even though the Buckeyes tied for the B1G title with Illinois, the tiebreak was the one head-to-head matchup with the Fightin’ Illini—which Ohio State lost on the road. Still, finishing No. 7 in the Associated Press poll and No. 9 in the SRS overall still constitutes a stellar season, even without an NCAA tourney bid.
9. 1963 Illinois Fightin’ Illini (20-6)
Finishing No. 8 in the AP poll, Illinois got the automatic bid to March Madness for the B1G, on the basis of that H2H victory over Ohio State noted above. But the Illini struggled mightily in their NCAA opener, barely beating Bowling Green State by three points. Then Illinois was eliminated by No. 3 Loyola of Chicago in the regional finals, losing by 15 points. That had to sting, losing to a regional rival so badly.
8. 1969 Illinois Fightin’ Illini (19-5)
A 9-0 start to the season helped Illinois reach No. 4 in the AP poll before things got a little trickier for the Fightin’ Illini. A 9-5 conference record was good enough for second place behind Purdue (see below), but Illinois finished No. 4 in the SRS overall on the basis of the 11th-hardest schedule in the country. There was no chance to play in the NCAA Tournament, but Illinois beat four ranked teams during the year nonetheless.
7. 1964 Michigan Wolverines (23-5)
Finishing No. 2 in the AP poll, the Wolverines got a nice draw in the NCAA regionals, where they beat No. 8 Loyola in the semis before defeating unranked Ohio to make it to the Final Four. Alas, that’s where the Michigan luck ran out, as a loss to No. 3 Duke in the national semifinals relegated the Wolverines to the third-place game against unranked Kansas State (which Michigan beat). Overall, the team finished No. 3 in the SRS.
6. 1965 Michigan Wolverines (24-4)
A 13-1 conference record meant that the Wolverines held down the No. 1 spot in the AP poll for 10 weeks during the regular season—including the last six polls before the NCAA Tournament. In March Madness, Michigan beat unranked Dayton and No. 5 Vanderbilt to reach the Final Four. Then, the Wolverines defeated unranked Princeton to make it to the championship game against No. 2 UCLA (and losing, of course).
5. 1965 Illinois Fightin’ Illini (18-6)
This is another one of those sabermetric anomalies, and it seems like they all involve Illinois. Based on the second-toughest schedule in the nation, the Fightin’ Illini finished No. 2 in the SRS—despite a 10-4 finish in the B1G that was only good enough for third place. But Illinois did beat eventual national champ UCLA by a whopping 27 points in its season opener, as well as No. 8 Kentucky and No. 7 Indiana. The Illini also lost to Michigan twice by a total of just 7 points. Clearly, this team was good.
4. 1969 Purdue Boilermakers (23-5)
The Boilermakers opened the season with a 12-point loss to UCLA, and they ended the season with a 20-point loss to the Bruins in the national title game. In between, Purdue was pretty impressive. In B1G play, the Boilermakers went 13-1 with the only defeat coming on the road against No. 16 Ohio State by three points. Purdue beat No. 14 Marquette to reach the Final Four and then topped No. 4 North Carolina to make it to the championship. Ranked No. 6 in the AP poll, the team also finished No. 2 in the SRS with the No. 5 SOS.
3. 1961 Ohio State Buckeyes (27-1)
It’s a bittersweet season when you go 27-0 to reach the championship of the NCAA Tournament, only to lose to an interstate rival. But that’s what happened to the John Havlicek, Jerry Lucas, Bob Knight, and the rest of the Buckeyes as they lost the title game to the Cincinnati Bearcats. No. 1 in the SRS, Ohio State knocked off six ranked teams during the regular season but faced no ranked teams in March Madness until facing No. 2 Cincinnati in the finals. The Buckeyes had been ranked No. 1 in every poll for the entire season, by the way.
2. 1962 Ohio State Buckeyes (26-2)
In almost an exact repeat season from the year before, these Buckeyes also were ranked No. 1 in every poll all season long and finished No. 1 in the SRS again. But guess what? Ohio State lost to No. 2 Cincinnati in the national championship game again. The Buckeyes beat three Top 4 teams during the season and the tournament, however. The only B1G loss came on the road to Wisconsin in the penultimate game of the regular season.
1. 1960 Ohio State Buckeyes (25-3)
The only national champion on our list here this week, the Buckeyes beat defending champ California in the NCAA Tournament final to finish No. 2 in the SRS. Ohio State started the season ranked No. 3 and finished it ranked No. 3 as well. A 13-1 record in the B1G was only marred by road loss against No. 20 Indiana in the last week of the regular season. Wins over No. 13 Georgia Tech and No. 12 NYU got the Buckeyes to the title game against the No. 2 Golden Bears.