Kareem of the Crop — UCLA hits the All-Time Exacta, placing 1st (’67) AND 2nd (’73) in the poll for Best College Basketball Teams in History
If you are reading Sporting News’ new Top Ten Best College Basketball Teams of All-Time from the bottom up, and you just want to know who’s #1, you can Skip To My Lew. Lew Alcindor’s first Championship team — in 1967 — took first place. And in order to claim that loftiest of lofty positions, all they had to do was get ranked above Bill Walton’s second Championship team — The 1973 squad that started the 88-game Winning Streak.
The Polls will be open on Monday for FANS to weigh in, but fans of today often skew these things to more recent times, because fans of today are clueless when it comes to History. So before the fan voting bastardizes the integrity of the whole process, let’s celebrate the results as determined by the actual EXPERTS.
#1 is the ’67 Bruins, starring SOPHOMORES (in their first year on the Varsity, by rule) Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Lynn Shackleford, and Lucius Allen. They went 30-0, and won by about 26 points a game, with Alcindor averaging 29 points and 15 Rebounds per game. In the NCAA Tourney, no one came within 15 points of them, as they cruised to John Wooden’s 3rd of 10 National Titles.
#2 is the ’73 Bruins, starring Keith (Jamaal) Wilkes and Bill Walton, with the Big Redhead averaging about 20 points, 16 rebounds, and 5+ assists per game. This team still holds the Record for Margin of Victory, winning by 30+ points a game, and was at the heart of the 88-game winning streak, which is also STILL the All-Time Record for College Basketball — And yes, I am intentionally IGNORING UConn’s powderpuff streak. The ’73 Title was Wooden’s 9th overall, and 7th in a row, while no other team has ever won more than 2 consecutively.
#3-#10: Does anyone care? They SHOULD be Wooden’s other 8 Championship teams, but I guess the experts decided that the rest of the Country would be too up in arms, so they named 8 other teams:’76 Indiana Hoosiers (Kent Benson), ’82 North Carolina Tar Heels (Jordan/Worthy/Perkins), ’55 San Francisco Dons (Bill Russell), ’91 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (Grandmama, and didn’t even win a Title), ’74 NC State Wolfpack (David Thompson), ’92 Duke Blue Devils (Laettner’s FLUKE), ’84 Georgetown Hoyas (Ewing), and ’96 Kentucky Wildcats (Pitino’s “Untouchables,” long before he touched that waitress on the dinner table with something that was supposed to belong to his Wife).
Yeah, sure, all these teams are pretty worthy, including Worthy’s, but head-to-head, the other Bruin Championship teams — with Wooden calling the shots — could have probably kicked all their asses. But who outside of L.A. would even read the Sporting News article, if the whole Top Ten was UCLA?
It’s sort of like the All-Time ACTION Movie Polls, where they can’t put ALL Bond films as the Top Ten, so they pick two — usually fan favorite “Goldfinger” and FIRST one “Dr. No,” to represent the whole series. And yes, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” although not a 007 flick, still deserves to be towards the top of the list, right along with the Bonds — so don’t be shaken or stirred by this inexact analogy.
At least whenever they take votes for Best individual PLAYERS ever, Alcindor and Walton always finish ONE-TWO, and whenever they pick the Best Coach, Wooden always comes out on Top, with no one else getting any 1st Place votes.
And of course, if they ever were to take a “Most Corrupt School” poll, across all Sports, we all know who would win THAT one. Not Auburn, or any other SEC school, or Ohio State, should even be nominated. Instead, they could just count Disgraced Heisman Trophy winners who are in jail, or who had to forfeit their award, and then vote accordingly.