INDIANAPOLIS – Gonzaga is on the doorstep of joining one of college basketball’s most exclusive clubs.
Only seven Division I teams have reached the finish line unbeaten and holding a national championship trophy.
1956 – San Francisco (29-0): Bill Russell led the Phil Woolpert-coached Dons to the second of two straight NCAA titles. USF only had two games decided by less than 10 points. The Dons beat Marquette 65-58 and Cal 33-24.
Russell, who went on to win 11 NBA titles, averaged 20.6 points and 21.0 rebounds. San Francisco won the last 46 games of Russell’s career.
1957 – North Carolina (32-0): The Tar Heels had an exhausting journey to capturing the program’s first national championship. First, they beat Michigan State 74-70 in triple overtime. Then they beat Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas 54-53 in triple overtime in the title game.
UNC’s Lennie Rosenbluth averaged 28 points per game.
1964 – UCLA (30-0): The first of famed coach John Wooden’s 10 NCAA championships, four of which saw the Bruins go undefeated.
Guards Gail Goodrich and Walt Hazzard combined to average 40 points per game. UCLA handled Duke 98-83 in the championship game.
1967 – UCLA (30-0): Center Lew Alcindor, who later changed his named to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, led the Bruins to three NCAA titles in his career, but this was the only one with an unblemished record. He averaged 29 points and 15.5 rebounds.
In the last two games of the tournament, the legendary 7-foot-2 center had 39 points and 38 rebounds.
1972 – UCLA (30-0): Center Bill Walton was named AP player of year after averaging 21.1 points and 15.5 rebounds. Guard Henry Bibby played a key role, contributing 15.7 points and Jamaal Wilkes added 13.8 points.
UCLA scored 94.6 points per game and won by an average of 30.3 points.
1973 – UCLA (30-0): Walton carried the Bruins in an 87-66 win over Memphis State in the championship game. He made 21 of 22 field-goal attempts and scored 44 points.
UCLA’s winning streak reached 88 games before suffering a loss during the 1974 season.
1976 – Indiana (32-0): The Hoosiers nearly pulled off an unbeaten season in 1975, but lost in the NCAA Tournament to Kentucky with star forward Scott May limited by a broken arm.
Indiana polished off an unbeaten campaign by rallying from a six-point halftime deficit to beat Michigan 86-68 in the title game. May, the player of the year, averaged 23.5 points.
Gonzaga is shooting for history, but history has frowned on the last four teams that entered the NCAA Tournament undefeated since Indiana ran the table in 1976.
1979 – Indiana State: Indiana State, led by Larry Bird, came up short against Magic Johnson and Michigan State 75-64 in the championship title game. Indiana State finished 33-1.
Johnson finished with 24 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Greg Kelser had 19 points, grabbed eight rebounds and handed out nine assists.
Bird made 7 of 21 shots, scored 19 points and had 13 boards. Carl Nicks added 17 points.
1991 – UNLV: UNLV, with Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony, Stacey Augmon and Anderson Hunt, hammered Duke 103-73 in the 1990 championship game. The Rebels were heavy favorites with a 34-0 record in the 1991 national semifinal, but Duke pulled off a shocker 79-77.
Christian Laettner made two free throws with 12.7 seconds left, and Hunt’s 3-point attempt bounced off the rim. Laettner scored 28 points, Bobby Hurley added 12 points and seven assists and Grant Hill chipped in 11 points. Hunt led UNLV with 29 points.
2014 – Wichita State: Wichita State carried a 35-0 record into a second-round contest against Kentucky, which held on for a 78-76 victory when Fred VanVleet’s 3-pointer bounced off the rim.
Harrison brothers Andrew and Aaron combined for 39 points, and Julius Randle added 13 points and 10 rebounds.
2015 – Kentucky: It was the Wildcats’ turn to feel the pain of an unbeaten season ending in March Madness. The Wildcats lost 71-64 to Wisconsin to finish 38-1.
Wisconsin forwards Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker combined for 36 points.
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