The 1972 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament involved 25 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAA University Division (the predecessor to today's Division I) college basketball. It began on March 11, 1972, and ended with the championship game on March 25 in Los Angeles, California. 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 81–76 victory in the final game over Florida State, coached by Hugh Durham. Bill Walton of UCLA was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
In a historically significant note, Southwestern Louisiana, now known as Louisiana-Lafayette, made the tournament in its first season of eligibility for postseason play. No school would repeat this feat in the men's tournament until North Dakota State in 2009. Southwestern's Louisiana'a participation in this tournament, as well as the 1973 tournament, was vacated by the NCAA due to major recruiting infractions which resulted in the school receiving the death penalty.
The Bruins had a huge advantage by playing the game at its home city's Memorial Sports Arena, which actually was their home court before Pauley Pavilion was built in 1965.