The 1974 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament involved 25 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAADivision Icollege basketball. It was the first tournament to officially be designated as a Division I championship—previously, NCAA member schools had been divided into the "University Division" and "College Division". The NCAA created its current three-division setup, effective with the 1973–74 academic year, by moving all of its University Division schools to Division I and splitting the College Division members into Division II (fewer scholarships) and Division III (no athletic scholarships allowed). Previous tournaments would retroactively be considered Division I championships.
The tournament began on March 9, 1974, and ended with the championship game on March 25 in Greensboro, North Carolina. A total of 29 games were played, including a third place game in each region and a national third place game.
This was the final year that only conference champions could participate in the tournament. During the same time in 1974, the Collegiate Commissioners' Association held a tournament in St. Louis, Missouri. They invited the second-place teams from eight conferences to participate. In 1975, the NCAA would expand the field to include at-large bids.
The UCLA - North Carolina State semifinal game made USA Today's list of the greatest NCAA tournament games of all time at #13. UCLA star Bill Walton calls that game the most disappointing outcome of his entire basketball career, given how UCLA lost a 5 point lead late in regulation and a 7 point lead in the 2nd overtime. The game, played in Greensboro, was like a home game for the Wolfpack; UCLA had defeated NC State by 18 points in a neutral site game in St. Louis earlier in the season.