The quest for perfection in college basketball has been an elusive one. Since Bill Russell and the 1956 San Francisco Dons became the first NCAA Division I Men’s college basketball team to finish the year undefeated with an NCAA tournament national championship, only six other teams have accomplished the feat.
Even so, no program has completed the perfect season since Bobby Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers did so in 1976, with the 3-point line still nine years away back then.
As for teams with multiple undefeated seasons ending in national titles, UCLA stands tall above the rest, having accomplished this on four occasions.
Since that 1976 season, just five teams have finished an NCAA season undefeated. Wichita State played out such a campaign in 2014, Kentucky followed in 2015, and Gonzaga pulled it off in 2021.
Two of the five teams lost in the final four, with UNLV crashing out at said stage in 1991 while Kentucky’s perfect 2015 season also ended in the semis.
Indiana State made it to the championship game before a loss in 1979.
That said, let’s take a look at all of the undefeated teams to have come through since 1939.
1955-56 San Fransisco Dons
Bill Russell is known for his 11-ring career with the Boston Celtics but was a dominant player all through college and won two championships with San Francisco. Their 29-0 record in 1956 was the first-ever perfect season.
1956-57 North Carolina Tar Heels
The North Carolina Tar Heels needed six overtimes, but they managed a championship win after an unblemished 32-0 season in 1957. Such a term would have the sports betting apps in North Carolina jangling if it happened in the near future, but there’s definitely an opportunity for it to happen again.
Lennie Rosenbluth and Pete Brennan starred for NC then and were co-ACC players of the year, with the former averaging 28 points and eight rebounds a game and the latter registering 14.7 points and 10.4 rebounds.
The Tar Heels beat Michigan State in the Final Four on the back of three overtime and then had to beat Kansas to lift the title.
1963-64 UCLA Bruins
The Bruins won the first of their 10 championships under John Wooden in 1964 and went 30-0 that season as well.
They beat Duke 98-83 in the national championship game.
1966-67 UCLA Bruins
Before they had Bill Walton, the Bruins had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The basketball icon won three championships with the program while only losing two games in his college career.
He led UCLA to an undefeated season in 1967 (30-0) and was selected as the AP Player of the Year after averaging a whopping 29 points and 15.5 rebounds per game. That season stands out as the most dominant in college basketball history.
Named Lew Alcindor back then, the former center scored 19 points and hauled 20 boards against Houston in the Four, scoring another 20 points and adding 18 boards in the national championship game against Dayton.
1971-72 UCLA Bruins
The 1972 season was soon to be NBA star Bill Walton’s first as a college player, and it didn’t take him long to become the most popular one in the country. He would end the season – one in which the Bruins went 30-0 – averaging 21.1 points and 15.5 rebounds a contest en route to an AP Player of the Year award.
Henry Bibby, the father of former NBA star point guard Mike Bibby, was also an important player for that ‘72 side as he had his best personal campaign that year, averaging 15.7 points a game.
1972-73 UCLA Bruins
The Bruins put together a 30-0 season in 1973. Led by Walton, UCLA couldn’t be beaten that year. The big man averaged 20.4 points and an otherworldly 16.9 rebounds per game, winning a second consecutive AP Player of the Year award to fire his team to a seventh straight championship.
The Bruins shot an incredible 51.9 percent from the field that year and won 26 of their 30 games by double digits.
Their remarkable win streak was broken at 88 games the following season.
1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers
The Indiana Hoosiers went 32-0 in 1976. They boasted Associated Press Player of the Year Scott May, who led them with 23.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. They were also fortunate to have Kent Benson, who averaged 17.3 points and 8.8 rebounds a game, on their squad.
They kicked off their season as the AP No. 1 team, beating then-reigning national champions UCLA by 20 points.
They beat the Bruins again in the Final Four before a victory over Michigan in the national championship game.