In the 1960s, NIT Champions still claimed national titles, despite the NCAA Tournament being the superior field. Following the 1960s, 1970 and 2020 are the only two years where there remains any national championship debate at all. The NCAA Tournament is the preferred method of determining a national champion and March Madness is an industry unto itself.
Although the NCAA Tournament was clearly stronger than the NIT, legendary coach Al McGuire had his Marquette Warriors, ranked 8th in the nation, turn down an NCAA bid to accept an NIT bid after the NCAA shipped his squad to a further regional than desired. The 26-3 Warriors swept through the Madison Square Garden tournament to win an NIT crown, facing difficult competition but no ranked teams. #2 UCLA (28-2 on the year) is a worthy 1970 national champion after defeating #5 New Mexico State and #4 Jacksonville in the Final Four. The only question is if Marquette should share the title with UCLA, but the Bruins were once again a cut above, even without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
GDB National Champions: UCLA
For the years 1971 to 2019, the NCAA Tournament Champion is the undisputed college champion.
Following the 2020 regular season, coronavirus concerns began to grow in the United States. Some conferences completed their postseason tournaments. Others were forced to halt them mid-tournament. Ultimately, the NCAA Tournament was cancelled. As with 1954 Kentucky, the question of “what if” will always be there. But there was no NCAA Tournament in 2020, so the national championship is decided by the 30+ games each team played before March Madness was called off. Kansas finished a convincing number one in the AP and Coaches Polls, along with being a near unanimous #1 in both efficiency-based and results-based computer polls. The Jayhawks were also the unanimous choice for the overall number one seed amongst bracketologists, following a 28-3 campaign that included 16 straight wins to end the year and elite wins away from home over #3 Dayton and #5 Baylor. #2 Gonzaga lost only two games, but were easily handled by Michigan and BYU, the latter of which Kansas beat on a neutral court. The Jayhawks also played an elite schedule, while Gonzaga played a much weaker overall slate. The same can be said of 2-loss Dayton, with a big difference being Kansas’s neutral court win over the Flyers in the Maui Invitational final. Florida State was named National Champions by the Florida legislature, but did not have as accomplished of a season as Kansas.
GDB National Champions: Kansas