1978 College Basketball Recap
The 1977–78 season was just beginning when Adolph Rupp died on Dec. 10. Three and a half months later, Kentucky won its fifth NCAA championship. It was the Wildcats' first title in 20 years.
Coached by Joe B. Hall, who succeeded Rupp in 1972, the Wildcats were favored to win it all right from the start and the pressure to live up to that prediction and break the 20–year dry spell was intense.
Kentucky came into the tournament ranked No.1 and with a record of 25–2. In the Mideast Regional, the Wildcats played three conference champions (Florida St., Miami of Ohio and Michigan St.) and beat them all. At the Final Four in St. Louis, they defeated two more champions, Arkansas in the semifinals and Duke in the Final to win the title and end their misery.
Forward Jack Givens scored 41 points against Duke to win MVP honors.
Fifth-ranked Arkansas and No.6 Notre Dame both made it to the Final Four for the first time ever. In St. Louis, however, they each lost their semifinal games—the Razorbacks to Kentucky and the Irish to Duke. Arkansas won the consolation game at the buzzer, 71–69.
Texas shared the Southwest Conference title with Arkansas and coaches Eddie Sutton and Abe Lemons were two of the Coaches of the Year. Lemons and Texas had to settle for a bid to the NIT where the Longhorns met North Carolina State in the final and won by eight.