GREATEST TEAMS IN
1950 CCNY Beavers
The 24-5 City College of New York Beavers are the only team to win the NCAA and NIT Championship in the same year. The Beavers lost three of their last five regular season games and were unranked going into the two tournaments. In the NIT, the Beavers upset #12 San Francisco, #3 Kentucky, #6 Dusquesne and #1 Bradley. After winning the NIT, the Beavers accepted a bid to the NCAA Tournament, in which they beat #2 Ohio State, #5 North Carolina State and #1 Bradley (again). The following season, however, key members of the Beavers team were arrested in a point-shaving scandal and an investigation found that high school grades had been changed to enable players to be admitted to CCNY. The Beavers won with a fast-moving, passing, motion offense that led to lots of inside scores for center Ed Roman (16.4 pts.), and forwards Ed Warner (14.8 pts.) and Irwin Dambrot (10.2 pts.).
1951 Illinois Illini
The 1951 Illinois Illini went 22-5 before losing to eventual champion Kentucky in the Final Four, 76-74. The Illini set the Big Ten record for averaged points scored in Big Ten games at 70.6 per game. Guards Don Sunderlage (16.8 pts.), Ted Beach (10.2 pts.) and Rod Fletcher (9.7 pts.) led the Illini in scoring.
1951 Kentucky Wildcats
The Wildcats won their third NCAA title in four years in 1951. They went 32-2 and outscored opponents 74.7 to 52.4. The Wildcats were led by 7'0" Center Bill Spivey (19.2 pts., 17.2 reb.). In 1952, Spivey was dismissed from the team and banned from playing in the NBA for life for his alleged involvement in a massive college basketball point-shaving scandal. Team captain Forward Walter Hirsch (9.1 pts., 8 reb.) admitted he was involved in shaving points. The rest of the starting five included Guards Bobby Watson (10.4 pts., 2.5 reb.) and Frank Ramsey (10.1 pts., 12.8 reb.) and Forward Shelby Linville (10.4 pts., 9.1 reb.). Another standout was Sophomore Forward Cliff Hagan (9.2 pts., 8.5 reb.). Click here to read a detailed article on the 1951 Wildcats.
1952 Kansas Jayhawks
The 28-3 NCAA Champion Kansas Jayhawks were led by 6'9' center Clyde Lovellette. Lovellette could score from inside and outside and was a great rebounder as well. He led the nation in scoring with an average of 28.6 points per game in 1952. He also averaged 13.2 rebounds per game. Lovellette's inside dominance opened up outside shots for senior guard Bob Kennedy (13.1 pts., 3.8 reb.). Also on the team was reserve guard Dean Smith. Although Smith averaged only 1.5 points per game in 1952, he would make it to the Basketball Hall of Fame as the longtime coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Click here to read a detailed article on the 1952 Jayhawks.
1953 Indiana Hoosiers
The 23-3 NCAA Champion Indiana Hoosiers were led by the inside scoring of 6'9' center Don Schlundt (25.4 pts., 8.5 reb.) and the outside scoring of Bob Leonard (16.3 pts.). The Hoosiers are best known for their fast paced offense, but they had a spectacular defense, holding opponents to a shooting percentage of just 29.9 percent. Click here to read a detailed article on the 1953 Hoosiers.
1953 Seton Hall Pirates
The 31-2 Pirates won the NIT Championship. They were led by 6'11' center Walter Dukes, who averaged 26.1 points and 22.2 rebounds per game. Dukes' inside game was complemented by the outside shooting of Richie Regan (14.2 pts.) and Harry Brooks (12.2 pts.).
1954 Holy Cross Crusaders
The 1954 Holy Cross Crusaders went 26-2 and were NIT Champions. The Cusaders were led by the inside play of Togo Palazzi (24.8 pts., 13.6 reb.) and Thomas Heinsohn (15.9 pts., 10.7 reb.). The big men (who were only 6'4' and 6'6' respectively) were supported by the solid outside shooting of guards Ronald Perry (12.6 pts., 3.2 reb.) and Walter Supronowicz (5.9 pts., 2.3 reb.) and forward Joseph Liebler (7.7 pts., 4.3 reb.).
1954 Kentucky Wildcats
The Wildcats were forced to sit out fo the 1953 season as a result of NCAA rules infractions. They practiced together all year and came back in 1954 better than ever. The fast-breaking 25-0 Wildcats outscored opponents by an average score of 87.5 to 60.3 per game at a time when teams shot approximately 35% from the field. The Wildcats were led by Power Forward Cliff Hagan (24 pts.,13.5 reb.), Guard Frank Ramsey (19.6 pts., 8.8 reb.) and Center Lou Tsioropoulos (14.5 pts., 9.6 reb.). All three of these players were seniors in 1953. Believing the retained their eligibility by sitting out the 1953 season, they all studied and graduated and took graduate courses in 1954. The NCAA declared them ineligible to play in the NCAA tournament. Rather than go to the tournament without their three best players, the 1954 Kentucky Wildcats declined the invitation to play in the NCAA tournament. Click here to read a detailed article on the 1954 Wildcats.
1954 LaSalle Explorers
The Explorers were led by superstar Tom Gola (23 pts., 21.7 reb.). The 6'6" Gola could play every position and still holds the all-time NCAA record for career rebounds. The Explorers went 26-4 and won the NCAA Championship. The Explorers went to the finals again in 1955, but lost to Bill Russell and the San Fransisco Dons. Click here to read a detailed article on the 1954 Explorers.
1956 Iowa Hawkeyes
The 20-6 Iowa Hawkeyes lost the NCAA Championship to Bill Russell and the San Francisco Dons, 83-71. Iowa had a balanced attack, with all five starters averaging double figures. Iowa has retired the jerseys of all of the members of the 'Fabulous Five.' The best of the bunch was probably forward Carl Cain (15.8 pts.). Cain was a first team All-American who could score inside and outside. He was outscored by second team All-American center Bill Logan (17.7 pts.). The other members of the Fabulous Five were guards Bill Seaberg (13.9 pts.) and Milton Scheuerman (10.1 pts.) and forward Bill Schoof (10.8 pts.).
1956 San Fransisco Dons
The 29-0 Dons never won a game by less than seven points in their march to a second consecutive NCAA title in 1956. The Dons were ranked number one the entire season. Their outstanding defense, led by ambidextrous Center Bill Russell (20.6 pts., 21 reb.), held opponents to a mere 52.2 points per game. Russell once said he'd rather block a shot than score and he demoralized opponents by blocking shots at will. Prior to the 1956 season, NCAA officials widened the free thow lane from 6 feet to 12 feet via what later became known as the "Bill Russell Rule" in an effort to keep Russell farther from the basket and make him less able to dominate inside. Russell moved to the high post and was as effective as before. Guards KC Jones (9.8 pts, 5.2 reb.) and Hal Perry (9.1 pts., 2 reb.) complimented Russell's inside game with their excellent ball handling skills and timely scoring. Click here to read a detailed article on the 1956 Dons.
1957 Kansas Jayhawks
The 24-3 Jayhawks were led by the Big Dipper, Wilt Chamberlain (29.6 pts., 18.9 reb.). The Big Dipper got his nickname because he had to duck when walking through doorways. Chamberlain towered over most of the other players of his day, but it wasn't just Wilt's height that made him great. He was a tremendous athlete. He completely dominated inside. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, they had no outside game to compliment Chamberlain's inside game. Soon, every team was playing a physical sagging zone in an attempt to deny Chamberlain the ball. Ultimately, this strategy led to the Jayhawks downfall in a triple overtime NCAA championship game against North Carolina. Click here to read a detailed article on the 1957 Jayhawks.
1957 North Carolina Tar Heels
The 32-0 Tar Heels were led by superstar Len Rosenbluth, who averaged 28 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. They defeated Wilt Chamberlain's Kansas team to win the NCAA championship. Click here to read a detailed article on the 1957 Tar Heels.
1958 Kentucky Wildcats
The 23-6 Kentucky Wildcats won the NCAA Championship, but at the start of the season, coach Adolf Rupp said the players were 'fair fiddlers, but not violinists who might appear at Carnegie Hall.' The team earned the nickname the 'Fiddling Five.' The Wildcats were led by shooting guard Vernon Hatton (17.1 pts., 5 reb.) outside and power forward Johnny Cox (14.9 pts., 12.6 reb.) inside. Forward John Crigler (13.6 pts., 9.9 reb.) and guard Adrian Smith (12.4 pts., 3.5 reb.) were also solid scorers.
1958 Seattle Chieftains
The 24-7 Chieftains were led by Forward Elgin Baylor. Baylor averaged 32.5 points and 19.3 rebounds per game. In the NCAA tournament, he averaged 27 points per game and was named most outstanding player of the Final Four. Although the Chieftains ended the season ranked number 18, Baylor led the team to the 1958 NCAA Championship game, where they lost to Kentucky 84-72. Baylor could handle the ball and score inside and outside. He had a running jump shot that was unstoppable. Guard Charles Brown was the second leading scorer and rebounder for the Chieftains with 10.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
1959 Kansas State Wildcats
The 25-2 Kansas State Wildcats were led by two-time All American power forward Bob Boozer (25.6 pts., 11.3 reb.). The Wildcats entered the NCAA Tournament ranked number one, but lost to Oscar Robertson and the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Midwest Regional Final.
1959 West Virginia Mountaineers
Led by the great outside shooting of Jerry West, the 29-5 Mountaineers made it to the NCAA championship game. Although the Mountaineers lost 71-70 to California, West scored 28 points and had 11 rebounds in the championship game and was named tournament MVP. West averaged 26.6 points and 12.3 rebounds per game in 1959.