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NEW BOOK PICKS BASKETBALL’S 25 GREATEST TEAMS - SERIOUSLY

SHARE NEW BOOK PICKS BASKETBALL’S 25 GREATEST TEAMS - SERIOUSLY

The one thing college basketball fans don't need is something else to argue about.

There are already heated discussions held over which is the best conference; which is the best region; should freshmen be eligible; how should the new television revenue be spent; how should cheaters be handled; and how can academics not be compromised as the quality level continues to rise.Well, Billy Packer decided to add one more topic to the list. He has co-written a book: "College Basketball's 25 Greatest Teams," published by The Sporting News.

He even admits in the book it was done seriously but still done so readers could have fun.

Packer, the son of a coach, a former college player and coach and a network analyst for the past 15 years, was just one member of the group that selected and ranked the teams.

He was joined by co-author Roland Lazenby, the editors of The Sporting News and computer expert Jeff Sagarin, who provided full statistical rankings.

"I, personally, did not like Oklahoma of 1987-88 being on there," Packer said. "I didn't think that was one of the better clubs. We went back and forth on that one and I was outvoted."

Packer saw one of the teams on the list first-hand. He played against Ohio State three times in his career at Wake Forest.

"My first game as a college player was (John) Havlicek's and (Jerry) Lucas' first games in college. We played in Columbus," he said. "We led the whole game until right down the wire when a guy named Joe Roberts made a hook shot and then they pulled away. Lucas didn't play well and neither did (Wake Forest's) Lenny Chappell and Havlicek didn't start nor did Bobby Knight.

"We played them again my senior year, we were ranked third, they were ranked first and they blizted us. And then we played them in the opening round of the Final Four and they beat us there. They were good but I thought North Carolina was a better team."

Good little tidbits like those and plenty of inside information is provided in the book as a chapter is devoted to each team.

One of the best stories is of the agonizing decision of Knight in 1975 of whom should replace the injured Scott May - John Laskowski or Tom Abernethy?

Knight tells of what made him go with the offensive player and how he later considered that the greatest mistake of his coaching career. He also said the 1975 team may have been better than the 1976 Hoosiers, the last undefeated Division I team.

Packer said that team was one of the two best he has covered since joining the electronic media.

"Of the teams I broadcast, I would take the '76 Indiana team and the '82 North Carolina team," he said. "They both had the coaching but look at the quality of talent. Bobby's talent was perfectly suited for his style of play and they had great physical power. I think with Carolina, they could not have sustained an injury but they didn't have to. When you take (James) Worthy, (Sam) Perkins and (Michael) Jordan on the same team, that's a good club."

Not all the teams in the book won national championships. One, the Maryland team of 1973-74, didn't even win a conference title.

The Terrapins made the mistake of being in the same Atlantic Coast Conference that David Thompson and the North Carolina State Wolfpack were in.

State went undefeated on the way to the national championship in the days when the NCAA tournament was open only to conference champions. Maryland lost five games that season, three to the Wolfpack.

The last of the three was a 103-100 overtime decision in the ACC championship game, still considered one of the best ever played in the storied history of that conference.

"That's why I was very much opposed to the locked situation that used to prevail before," Packer said of the days of the tournament being one of conference champions only. "First of all, there would not be the television product we have now and the tournament would still be in the stone ages as far as income generated.

"If we look at recent tournaments many champions would not have even made the field if those rules were still in effect. What we have now is a competitive balance. We don't even know which are the true best 64 teams so that system was short-sighted."

Hundreds of photographs throughout the book are as enjoyable as the text.

By reading in chronological order, you can see the sport evolve from crewcuts, canvas sneakers and posed shots to last year's fad, leather basketball shoes and breath-taking action photos.

"This is something that defies my imagination," Packer said. "When I was in college in the '60s you got one pair of sneakers and you wore them the whole season. Some guys may have something tear up, so maybe two pair."

It's just something else for college basketball fans to discuss or reminisce about. Like, which are the 25 greatest teams of all-time?

*****

College Basketball's 25 Greatest Teams

1. UCLA, 1966-67, 1967-68, 1968-69

2. Indiana, 1975-76

3. UCLA, 1971-72, 1972-73

4. San Francisco, 1954-55, 1955-56

5. Kentucky, 1953-54

6. Ohio State, 1959-60, 1960-61, 1961-62

7. Kentucky, 1947-48, 1948-49

8. Cincinnat, 1960-61, 1961-62

9. North Carolina State, 1973-74

10. Michigan State, 1978-79

11. Houston, 1967-68

12. UCLA, 1963-64

13. Oklahoma, 1987-88

14. North Carolina, 1956-57

15. CCNY, 1949-50

16. Cincinnati, 1959-60

17. Georgetown, 1983-84, 1984-85 18. North Carolina, 1981-82

19. Indiana, 1952-53

20. Louisville, 1985-86

21. Kansas, 1956-57

22. Oklahoma A&M, 1944-45, 1945-56

23. Houston, 1982-83

24. Seton Hall, 1952-53

25. Maryland, 1973-74