Indiana last NCAA champ to finish unbeatenPosted: March 13, 2014
It hasn’t happened in nearly 40 years — and has happened only seven times in history. It is winning the NCAA championship to cap off a perfect season.
UCLA did it four times — once with Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in 1967, and back to back with Bill Walton in 1972 and 1973, part of the Bruins’ record 88-game winning streak. John Wooden coached all four of those teams, including the 1964 team which was the first of his record 10 NCAA champions.
The University of San Francisco (USF) was the first to do it, capping off a 29-0 campaign to win the 1956 NCAA championship behind Bill Russell and K.C. Jones.
North Carolina (32-0) went unbeaten the following year, winning twice in triple overtime to beat Michigan State and then Kansas, with Wilt Chamberlain, in the finals.
Bobby Knight’s Hoosiers
The only other undefeated champion was Bobby Knight’s 1976 Hoosiers — who led by Kent Benson, Scott May and Quinn Buckner finished the year 1976 at 32-0 .Rutgers also entered that tournament undefeated, at 31-0, before losing to Michigan in the semifinals.
Only Wichita State has a shot this year. The Shockers, Missouri Valley Conference champions, are 34-0 as they attempt to reach the Final Four for the second year in a row.
The last team to enter the tournament unbeaten was UNLV in 1991. The defending champs had won 45 in a row before losing to Duke in the national semifinals.
Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamore’s were 33-0 entering the 1979 national finals – but were beaten by Magic Johnson and Michigan State. Alcorn State also had a perfect regular season that year. The Braves were 27-0 and won the SWAC but did not receive a bid to the 32-team field.