1948: the illustrious year that tipped off your Kentucky Wildcats’ basketball reign. 18 seasons into the coaching tenure of incomparable Adolph Rupp—the Baron of the Bluegrass, the namesake of Kentucky’s current hoops arena—your Kentucky Wildcats captured their inaugural NCAA basketball national championship with a 36-3 record.
Led by the “Fabulous Five,” starters Ralph Beard, Alex Groza, Wallace Jones, Cliff Barker and Kenny Rollins, the Wildcats delivered a 58-42 decisive dismantling of Baylor in the NCAA tournament championship game. And Kentucky wouldn’t have to wait another 18 seasons to get back in the winner’s circle. The following year, they defended their title and would add another two to their haul under Rupp. As for the Blue and White legend, he retired from his 41-season Kentucky coaching career in 1972 with an astounding .822 winning percentage and the most wins of any men’s collegiate basketball coach, the latter later surpassed and now held by Harry Statham.