The 1972 NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament involved 25 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of 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.
In a historically significant note, the University of Southwestern LouisianaRagin' Cajuns made the tournament in their 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 Louisiana also made the tournament in 1973, but due to major infractions that resulted in the basketball program receiving the NCAA death penalty (and very nearly expelled from the NCAA altogether), both appearances have since been vacated and the records expunged.
For the second time, the city of Los Angeles and the LA Memorial Sports Arena hosted the Final Four. To date, this is the last Final Four to be held in the city, although the arena, city and region continue to host games to this day. The tournament saw five new venues and three new host cities used for the first time. For the first time, the tournament came to the campus of Iowa State University and the Hilton Coliseum, then in its first year of operation. The first games ever held in the state of Tennessee were held this year at the Stokely Athletic Center on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. For the third time ever, games were held in the state of Virginia, this time at William & Mary Hall on the campus of the College of William & Mary. For the first time games were held at the brand new Marriott Center, then the largest basketball arena in the country, on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, replacing the Smith Fieldhouse. And at Idaho State University, games were held in the Minidome for the first time, having previously been played at Reed Gym in 1957. To date, this is the last time games were held at either the Hilton Coliseum or at Jadwin Gymnasium on the campus of Princeton University, the only Ivy League gymnasium other than the Palestra ever used in the tournament.