The 1971 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament involved 25 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division I college basketball. It began on March 13, 1971, and ended with the championship game on March 27 in Houston, Texas. A total of 29 games were played, including a third place game in each region and a national third place game.
UCLA, coached by John Wooden, won the national title with a 68-62 victory in the final game over Villanova, coached by Jack Kraft. Howard Porter of Villanova was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. However, Villanova was disqualified after the tournament for having an ineligible player. Their first place finish in the east regional was relinquished to Penn, with the regional consolation game (3rd place) winner, Fordham, receiving 2nd place.
For the national 3rd place, Western Kentucky won over Kansas 77-75.
In a situation similar to Villanova, Western Kentucky's placement in the tournament was vacated, due to an NCAA investigation that showed Jim McDaniels had signed a professional contract and accepted money during the 1970-71 season. Western Kentucky would be found in violation twice more in the next 10 years, earning the school a "lack of institutional control" violation.
The total attendance for the tournament was 220,447, a new record. It was the largest crowd of 31,765 to see the championship game.