UCLA won its first national championship in 1964 by beating a Duke team led by Art Heyman and Jeff Mullins and coached by Vic Bubas, a native of Indiana.
The Bruins of course were coached by another Hoosier native, John Wooden. They would go on to win again in 1965 before missing in 1966.
Not that anyone was complaining. They were too excited.
Because the freshman team had already shown signs of greatness, having beaten the varsity team - the two-time defending national champions - 75-60 in a pre-season game to open Pauley Pavilion.
That was largely because UCLA had pulled off a legendary recruiting coup by signing Lew Alcindor.
Now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it was clear at an early age that he was the next Great One and he was.
But UCLA had an enormous amount of talent besides Alcindor, and by the time his class ws seniors, they were one of the most dominant teams in the history of college basketball.
And of course Wooden’s greatness had already become apparent. His first two titles were with, in relative terms, good but not great athletes.
By 1969, UCLA had won four national championships in five years and was light years beyond anyone else and the talent was superb.
This video does a nice job of showing just how dominant the Bruins were. That sort of era really can’t happen again. First, the tournament then was 16 teams rather than 68. Second, parity is widespread, not to mention that in the 1960’s, segregation was still being dismantled in many conferences.
But this level of talent with Wooden’s genius? It was magical.