In terms of national championships won, Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup between UCLA and Kentucky will be a battle of the two most successful programs in college basketball history.
The pair of bluebloods, which have seen a number of all-time great players and teams come through their campuses, have combined for 19 titles.
As they both look capable of adding another to that list, let’s take a closer look at their storied histories:
UCLA Final Four History
17 Final Fours, 11 National Championships (Doesn’t include 1980, a season in which they advanced to the national championship but was ultimately vacated)
1962: Lost in Final Four
1964: Won National Championship
1965: Won National Championship
1967: Won National Championship
1968: Won National Championship
1969: Won National Championship
1970: Won National Championship
1971: Won National Championship
1972: Won National Championship
1973: Won National Championship
1974: Lost in Final Four
1975: Won National Championship
1976: Lost in Final Four
1995: Won National Championship
2006: Lost in National Championship
2007: Lost in Final Four
2008: Lost in Final Four
UCLA, of course, owned college basketball in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when John Wooden put together a dynasty that will surely never be touched. In a span of 12 years from 1964 to 1975, the Bruins made 11 Final Four appearances, won 10 titles and went undefeated three times.
While an argument can be made for any number of those squads as the best team ever, it’s hard to beat the dominance of the 1972-73 season. The Bruins went 30-0, beat every team in the NCAA tournament by double-digits, and in the national championship game, Bill Walton tallied a ludicrous 44 points on 21-of-22 shooting to lead UCLA to a 21-point drubbing of Memphis State.
The Bruins’ last national title came in 1995, when Tyus Edney saved the team from disaster in the second round, and Ed O’Bannon and Toby Bailey combined for 56 points in the final against Arkansas.
Kentucky Final Four History
17 Final Fours, 8 National Championships
1942: Lost in Final Four
1948: Won National Championship
1949: Won National Championship
1951: Won National Championship
1958: Won National Championship
1966: Lost in National Championship
1975: Lost in National Championship
1978: Won National Championship
1984: Lost in Final Four
1993: Lost in Final Four
1996: Won National Championship
1997: Lost in National Championship
1998: Won National Championship
2011: Lost in Final Four
2012: Won National Championship
2014: Lost in National Championship
2015: Lost in Final Four
No conversation of the greatest teams in college basketball history is complete without Kentucky’s 1995-96 squad. “The Untouchables,” as they became known, had 10 future NBA players (led by Tony Delk, Antoine Walker and Walter McCarty), went 34-2, avenged an early-season loss to UMass with a win in the Final Four, and ultimately won its six NCAA tournament games by an average of 21 points.
One squad since then replicated that dominance and finished it with a national championship: Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Co. went 38-2 during the 2011-12 campaign, winning every game in the NCAA tourney by at least eight points.
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