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UCLA dominated the 1970s behind the end of Wooden’s dynasty, Marquette, Tar Heels close behind

AP Basketball Writer

UCLA’s dynasty under coach John Wooden began in the 1960s with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, and kept right on going with Bill Walton in the ’70s.

With the big redhead — and Deadhead — in the middle, the Bruins won consecutive national championships to stretch Wooden’s streak to an unprecedented seven straight titles. UCLA set the NCAA record with an 88-game winning streak that ended with a loss to Notre Dame in 1974 and then won another national title in 1975, Wooden’s 10th in 12 years.

UCLA went wire-to-wire at No. 1 in consecutive seasons as part of a streak of 46 straight weeks on top of the AP Top 25 poll, still the record. The Bruins also hold the record for being ranked: 221 straight weeks, a streak that encompassed the entire 1970s.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of its Top 25, The Associated Press compiled its weekly polls to crown an all-time No. 1, as well as determining the best programs of each decade. They were awarded points based on how they fared on every ballot, just as they are in weekly rankings, and the Bruins led the 1970s with 3,611 points. Here are the other top schools:

MARQUETTE (3,045 points)

Had it not been for UCLA, the Golden Eagles might have been the dominant team of the ’70s. Al McGuire led them to the 1977 national title, the 1974 title game and at least to the Sweet 16 on six occasions. The Golden Eagles had a one-week stint at No. 1 in 1978 and were regulars in the poll throughout the decade.


Dean Smith led North Carolina on three straight deep March runs in the late 1960s and again in 1972. The Tar Heels became one of the nation’s most consistent programs starting in 1975, when a trip to the Elite Eight began a streak of 27 straight NCAA tourney appearances, second all-time to Kansas’ 28. North Carolina had a 171-week streak of being ranked that started in 1973.

NOTRE DAME (2,338)

Those of a certain age might think of Digger Phelps as a TV analyst. Before he picked up a mic, Phelps turned Notre Dame into a national powerhouse. Starting in 1970, the Fighting Irish went to at least the Sweet 16 nine times in 12 years, including the 1978 Final Four. Notre Dame twice reached No. 1 in the decade.


Hard as it might be to imagine given the Cardinals’ recent struggles, Louisville was a national powerhouse under coach Denny Crum. They won a national championship in 1980 and went to the NCAA Tournament seven times in the 1970s.


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