•UCLA, 1967-68. Alcindor's junior year; Lucius Allen and Mike Warren, a.k.a. Officer Bobby Hill of Hill Street Blues, in backcourt. Wooden's favorite team.
About UNLV, the Wizard says: "Let's wait and see. A lot of teams have won one in a row." Ouch. "They'd have a lot of trouble with my two undefeated teams ['71-72, '72-73] and with San Francisco in '56. They don't have anyone to compare with Russell, Alcindor or Walton. Mike Warren was the smartest guard I've ever seen. With Lucius and [forwards] Mike Lynn and Lynn Shackelford...UNLV wouldn't put any fear into that team."
Let it not be forgotten how pure and solid was the Warren-Allen backcourt. Among the backcourts of the legendary teams, they would have the easiest time repelling the Rebels' pressure. And again, how would UNLV stop another dominant center, Alcindor? Oliver Miller?
•San Francisco, 1954-55, '55-56. The foreboding Russell, the fearless defensive guard, K.C. Jones. "I'm prejudiced toward our team because of Russell. He transcends eras," says Dons forward Mike Farmer. "We had a playing arrogance, a cockiness. Personally, I think we could blow [UNLV] away by 50."
Come on. San Francisco averaged only 68.5 points over those two seasons. Certainly Russell's commanding presence on defense would have made the game interesting, but it was truly another era. The Dons would be hard-pressed simply to keep up with the Rebels.
•Nobody ever mentions North Carolina State, 1973-74, in the same breath with the teams listed above, but David Thompson's Era-Busters—the Wolfpack beat UCLA in the '74 NCAA semis, breaking the Bruins' seven-year stranglehold on the NCAA championship—had in 7'4" center Tommy Burleson and 5'5½" play-maker Monte Towe a circus act that was tough, versatile and mission-oriented. The season before, while on NCAA probation and ineligible for the postseason, the Wolfpack was undefeated. Thompson would allow North Carolina State to compete with any team in any era.
•And what about Ewing's last two Georgetown teams, in 1983-84 and '84-85, the pair that first won, then lost the NCAA title games? Wouldn't he and his nasty-tempered teammates give UNLV all they wanted?
•And wouldn't another failed NCAA finalist, the 1982-83 Houston team, do the same? Akeem Olajuwon, Clyde (the Glide) Drexler and Larry Michaeux up front, Benny (Take It To The Rack) Anders off the pine. The Cougars' place in championship lore was rudely ripped from them when N.C. State upset Houston 54-52 on a last-second prayer. If any team of the past decade resembles the 1990-91 Runnin' Rebels in speed, spring, verve and sheer, entertainment-value dunkability, it's Phi Slamma Jamma.
So there they are, the best and brightest teams...ever. Where does UNLV rank? Here's one opinion.
1. UCLA '67-68
2. UCLA '72-73
3. UNLV '90-91
4. North Carolina '81-82
5. N.C. State '73-74
6. Indiana '75-76
7. San Francisco '55-56