By Jeff Borzello | CBSSports.com College Basketball Blogger
UCLA might have lost the Game of the Century to Houston in 1968, but this year's version of the Bruins might have been the team of the century. The Bruins rolled to a 29-1 record, with the lone loss coming against the Cougars when Lew Alcindor was hampered by an eye injury. They made up for the defeat in the NCAA tournament, outscoring teams by more than 21 points in the four games, not allowing more than 69 points in a single game.
Coach: John Wooden
Primary starters: Lew Alcindor, Lucious Allen, Lynn Shackelford, Mike Warren, Mike Lynn
NCAA tournament final result: Defeated North Carolina 78-55 to win the national title.
Best player: Lew Alcindor. Arguably the most dominant college player of all time, Alcindor added a wrinkle to his game during the 1968 season. The NCAA had outlawed dunking, forcing Alcindor to develop and refine his famous "sky hook" shot that essentially defined his NBA career. In 1968, he suffered a scratched left cornea in mid-January, missing two games and struggling in a third, against Houston. Despite the injury, Alcindor averaged 26.2 points and 16.5 rebounds on the season.
Another worth noting: Lucius Allen. The second-team All-American averaged 15.1 points and 6.0 rebounds for the Bruins, providing outside balance with his quickness and athleticism. He stepped up in the NCAA tournament, scoring 21 points against Santa Clara in the regional final, and contributing 19 in the dominant Final Four win over Houston.
This team is one of the best of all-time because ... John Wooden said it himself. The legendary head coach once said, "I've never come out and said it, but it would be hard to pick a team over the 1968 team." Despite losing the "Game of the Century" to Houston, UCLA was an absolutely dominant outfit. The Bruins got revenge for their one loss, completely annihilating the Cougars in the national semifinal by 32. They also defeated North Carolina in the title game by 23. When fully healthy, there was simply no way to beat UCLA. Alcindor was the best center in college basketball history, and UCLA surrounded him with other options. Five guys averaged in double-figures, and Ken Heitz was a lockdown defender off the bench. A team with one loss might scare some away from anointing this version of the Bruins as one of the greatest of all time, but it shouldn't. UCLA steamrolled teams, averaging 93.4 points per game and beating teams by 26.2 per game.
Did you know ... UCLA actually lost a double-figure scorer halfway through the season. Edgar Lacey, a senior forward who averaged a double-double for the 1965 national title team, quit the Bruins in late January after being benched for missing practice. After announcing his decision, Lacey said of Wooden: "I never enjoyed playing for that man."