By Jeff Borzello | CBSSports.com College Basketball Blogger
The 1969 UCLA Bruins weren't as dominant as their predecessors, eking out a couple of close wins before losing the regular-season finale to USC by two points -- at Pauley Pavilion. But instead of being a potential precursor for the NCAA tournament, it woke up Lew Alcindor and the Bruins. They won three of the four tourney games by at least 15 points, including a 20-point victory over Rick Mount and Purdue in the national title game.
Coach: John Wooden
Primary starters: Lew Alcindor, Curtis Rowe, Sidney Wicks, John Vallely, Lynn Shackelford
NCAA Tournament final result: Defeated Purdue 92-72 to win the national title.
Best player: Lew Alcindor. 1969 was essentially a victory lap for Alcindor's unbelievable UCLA career. He won the Most Outstanding Player award in the NCAA tournament for the third straight season, going for 37 points and 20 rebounds in the national championship game. On the season, Alcindor averaged 24.0 points and 14.7 rebounds, shooting 63.5 percent from the field. With dunking disallowed, Alcindor was able to dominate even more because of his flair and ability to make the sky hook.
Another worth noting: Curtis Rowe. A 6-foot-7 forward from Alabama, Rowe started his basketball career at UCLA on the right foot. During his first season on the varsity team, Rowe averaged 12.9 points and 7.6 rebounds and provided a second option for the Bruins in the frontcourt. He also tallied double-figures in both Final Four games in 1969.
This team is one of the best of all-time because ... While UCLA was not the juggernaut it had been in 1968, the 1969 Bruins were another dominant John Wooden and Lew Alcindor team. They beat opponents by 20.9 points during the season, with just one of their first 23 games decided by single-digits -- a nine-point win at Washington. UCLA had plenty of supporting options for Alcindor, with Jon Vallely and Curtis Rowe also averaging in double-figures that season. In the national championship game, Purdue and stud big man Rick Mount were supposed to provide an obstacle to the Bruins, but that didn't happen. Like UCLA did against Elvin Hayes and Houston the season before, Alcindor dominated the interior and the game was never in question. With Alcindor anchoring the inside, the Bruins still essentially were unbeatable against most teams. With his career winding down, it was time to reflect on Alcindor's career: three national championships, three Most Outstanding Player awards, and an 88-2 record in three seasons.
Did you know ... Lew Alcindor's father played trombone in the UCLA final during the championship game against Purdue. Ferdinand Alcindor often played the instrument in Harlem, and was the son of a Juilliard-trained trombonist. For Lew Alcindor, his father playing in the school band was the perfect ending to the greatest career in college basketball history.