The 50th Anniversary: U-M's 1963-64 Team
Cazzie Russell

Jan. 4, 2014

Photo Gallery

The beginning of Cazzie Russell's career as a Wolverine ushered in a golden age of U-M hoops, as the 1963-64 Michigan men's basketball team posted a 23-5 overall record, went 11-3 in Big Ten play, and claimed the first of three consecutive conference crowns and the first for the Maize and Blue in 16 seasons.

Under head coach Dave Strack, Michigan averaged 86.4 points per game during the 1963-64 campaign, then a school record, and still the eighth-highest scoring season in program history.

Russell, who averaged 24.8 points per game (which ranks seventh best in U-M history) earned consensus All-America second team honors as well as All-Big Ten first team recognition. Bill Buntin also earned All-Big Ten first team honors along with All-America third team accolades while posting 18 double-doubles and scoring 23.2 points per contest.

Opening the season ranked eighth in the country by the Associated Press, U-M won its first seven games of the season, including a win over fifth-ranked Duke and a victory over 10th-ranked New York University, climbing to No. 3 in the country. The Wolverines unbeaten start was ended on Dec. 27 by Walt Hazzard and eventual national champion UCLA in Los Angeles.

Cazzie Russell & Bill Buntin
Bill BuntinCazzie RussellCazzie Russell

Following that setback against the Bruins, the Maize and Blue won its next eight, including the first six in league play, to improve to 15-1. A one-point loss at Ohio State ended U-M's unbeaten run in the Big Ten, but the Wolverines went on to claim their first Big Ten title since 1948.

Earning the school's second NCAA Tournament appearance, and first in 16 seasons, U-M opened with a victory over eighth-ranked Loyola (Chicago) in the Midwest regional semifinal in Minneapolis, Minn., as Buntin and Larry Tregoning each posted double-doubles in the victory over the Ramblers.

Cazzie Russell & Bill Buntin
Bill Buntin & Cazzie Russell

A victory over Ohio University, 69-57, in the regional final sent Michigan to the Final Four for the first time in program history. Russell netted 25 points, and Buntin added 15 points and 10 rebounds in the victory over the Bobcats.

Despite 31 points from Russell, Michigan's dreams of a national title were dashed by Duke, 91-80, in a regular-season rematch in the national semifinals at Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium, but the Wolverines rebounded to beat Kansas State, 100-90, in the consolation game, capping a 23-win season, the most wins in program history at the time.

Cazzie Russell & Bill Buntin
1963-64 TeamCazzie Russell

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