To celebrate SLAM’s 30th anniversary, we’re spotlighting the 30 most influential men’s college teams from our past 30 years. Stats, records and chips aren’t the main factor here, it’s all about their contribution to the game’s cultural fabric.

For the next 30 days—Monday through Friday— we’ll be unveiling the full list here. We’ve also got an exclusive retro collegiate collection, out now, that pays homage to each squad’s threads. Shop here.

Elite backcourt, elite bigs. A recipe for success. Michelin star level of success. Russell Westbrook. Darren Collison. Kevin Love. Luc Mbah a Moute. Four League-bound talents emphatically stormed into the 07-08 season. The result? Three-straight regular season Pac-10 titles. A third-straight Final Four appearance. Since the tourney expanded to 64 teams in ‘85, only four teams have accomplished such a feat—just another day at the office for the Bruins. 

The Bruins changing of the guard saw UCLA great Aaron Afflalo enter the League but welcome a 6-10 tree from the forests of Lake Oswego, Oregon, Kevin Love. The freshman double-double machine quickly cemented his status as a one-and-done prospect while the team’s offense flowed through the 17.5 points per game scorer. LA native Josh Ship, Alfred Aboya and Lorenzo Mata-Real have curtailed Ben Howland’s strongest roster. 

Love’s dominance in the paint and soft touch around the basket earned him Pac-10 Player of the Week after destroying Washington State. Then there was Westbrook, a player who was as fearless as they come. Collison was known for his pinpoint shooting accuracy and taking matters into his own hands when needed.

The man in charge of it all was Ben Howland, a coaching prodigy known for his disciplined approach and defensive expertise. Coach Howland wasn’t just a coach but a master strategist who knew how to get the best out of his players. The Bruins’ defense remained rooted in intensity while executing offense without a trace of a turnover.

The Bruins weren’t satisfied with just winning; they were out to destroy each opponent. And Westbrook let you know it with every chance he could—emphatic screams after highlights, strutting down the court after rim-rocking throw-downs. The first round of the NCAA tournament proved just that when UCLA dominated Mississippi Valley, securing a commanding 41-point win over Mississippi Valley. Each game was the Bruins dominating on all sides of the court. 

The true test came in the Pac-10 championship. UCLA was down for most of the game against Stanford. After trailing through the first 20 minutes, the Bruins kicked into gear in the second half and managed to snag a back-and-forth 67-64 win. They kept that same energy throughout the NCAA Tournament, breezing through until they hit the final four, where they fell short. They never backed down, always leaving it all out on the court. 

But, amidst all the style and swagger, the Bruins remained focused on their ultimate goal: winning games. And win, they did. With an impressive win-loss record of 35-4 and a deep run in the NCAA tournament, they proved to be more than just a flashy show. They were a team with heart, determination, and a relentless drive to succeed. Ultimately, the ‘08 UCLA men’s basketball team made an enduring impact on the collegiate basketball scene. 

Photos via Getty Images.

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