Despite making it all the way to the national title game, Butler is being overlooked again. Duke is a 6.5 point favorite and people are comparing Butler to the miraculous 1985 Villanova team. Fans and CBS suites can only hope it won’t be a repeat of last year’s snoozer between North Carolina and Michigan State and fall in our Top 10 Most Lopsided Championship Games detailed here.
10. 1954: La Salle 92, Bradley 76
The Explorers lucked out in this tournament. The No. 1 team in the nation, 25-0 Kentucky, didn’t even participate because of the infamous point-shaving scandal a couple years earlier, while the consensus No. 2 in Indiana bowed out early. That left La Salle with a wide open road. It also helped they had Tom Gola, who was all-world for La Salle. He averaged 23 points and 21 rebounds per game that year and earned Tournament MOP honors by dominating the field en route to a title. Bradley, who was the last at large to get in, was lucky to even be in the title game (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it…).
9. 1969: UCLA 92, Purdue 72
John Wooden was squaring off against his alma mater and both teams had a drastically different semifinal games. The Boilermakers walked all over North Carolina while the Bruins barely survived against Drake. Sadly for Purdue, the semifinal performance was about as helpful as a winter coat during a Los Angeles summer. Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) scored 37 points and grabbed 20 rebounds (yes, you read that correctly) to grab his third straight title and the sixth in seven years for the Bruins. Said the Boilermakers coach: “It was pretty much in their hands after the first eight or ten minutes.”
8. 1973: UCLA 87, Memphis 66
Surprisingly, this game was tied at the half, 39-39. But like cats playing with their prey before actually killing it, the Bruins were just warming themselves up. Bill Walton, however, was on fire the whole game and just couldn’t miss a shot. OK, he could miss one. And that was it. His 21-22 shooting and 44 points paced the Bruins to their seventh straight title, and ninth in ten years. Memphis’ Larry Kenon battled Walton, but after receiving his third foul early, he was ineffective – to say the least.
7. 1952: Kansas 80, St. John’s 63
The Jayhawks had tried to win a title in two previous tournaments and walked away empty handed. Unfortunately for St. John’s, there was no way Kansas was allowing that to happen again while . Player of the Year Clyde Lovellette led the way for his team by dropping 33 points on the Redmen and holding St. John’s star center, Bob Zawoluk, to just 20 points.
6. 1940: Indiana 60, Kansas 42
Jay McCreary, a “gum chewing blond midget in a forest of physical giants” according to the AP, paced the Hoosiers with just 12 points. But everyone else did plenty of scoring in what was essentially a road game for Indiana, who had to play Kansas in Kansas City. Surprisingly the Hoosiers didn’t score their first basket until eight minutes into the game. Things snowballed from there.
5. 1960: Ohio State 75, Cal 55
It’s hard to believe that a team featuring future NBA Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek would ever be underdogs, but they were in 1960. Cal was a five-point favorite heading into the championship game. But the Buckeyes, who were the highest scoring team in the nation, hit a stunning 84.2 percent from the field in the first half. The 18-point first-half lead turned this one into a laugher.
4. 2006: Florida 73, UCLA 57
It was an interesting dichotomy: one program was basketball royalty, while the other was a football school that discovered it also had a pretty good basketball team somewhere between the bowl game and spring practice. But in the end, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it, “Talent over tradition.” Florida so thoroughly dominated the Bruins (holding UCLA to just 36 percent shooting from the floor) that Joakim Noah, the Tournament MOP, had time to interact with a Bruin cheerleader who had been calling him ugly during the game: “It hurts when you have so many beautiful girls out there telling you how ugly you are. The best thing I could do was blow a kiss.”
3. 2009: North Carolina 89, Michigan State 72
The story of Michigan State reaching the Final Four hosted by the downtrodden city of Detroit gave everyone a warm fuzzy feeling, but Spartan coach Tom Izzo was more realistic heading into the game: “If we play good and they play good, we’re losing.” And anyone willing to take off the rose-colored glasses and face reality knew the same thing. Tyler Hansbrough wasn’t going to lose his final college game. He put in 18 points and seven rebounds as the Tar Heels thumped Michigan State 89-72 in a game that was actually worse than the score indicates. Ouch.
2. 1968: UCLA 78, North Carolina 55
The Tar Heels had little shot heading into this game. For one, the game was in Los Angeles. Secondly, the Bruins had Lew Alcindor, who not only scored in bunches (34 points in this game), but also had nine blocked shots. Dean Smith and North Carolina tried slowing the game down by stalling, and they even had a 13-12 lead midway through the first half. But Alcindor and his Stretch Armstrong-like arms dominated from there. It would be the Bruins’ second straight title and fourth in five years. Said Dean Smith afterward: “Alcindor is the greatest player who ever played the game.”
1. 1990: UNLV 103, Duke 73
Armed with an NBA-ready team including Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony, the Rebels ran Duke right off the court with the biggest blowout in championship game history. It didn’t help Duke that guard Bobby Hurley was in the bathroom most of the game with stomach problems. Forcing 23 Duke turnovers, the game turned into a dunking highlight reel for the Runnin’ Rebels. Said coach Jerry Tarkanian afterward: “It was like a fairy tale.” Well, not for viewers and CBS…
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