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This year's NCAA basketball tournament promises a splendidly matched series of battles to decide the champion

Twenty-four teams of eager young men—their ankles firmly taped, their thoughts firmly fixed on glory—step out on basketball courts around the country this week in a four-bracket elimination tournament that will end the night of March 22 in Louisville when the 1958 national champions receive their tokens of supremacy: gold watches and firm handshakes. An excellent crop of contestants, they promise a series of memorable, well-played games.

In the western half of the draw are the three teams this magazine rates on a par as the best in the nation—San Francisco, Kansas State and Cincinnati (see teams in red, page 34). One will be cut down when State meets Cincinnati in an early-round game at Lawrence on March 14. State will have the edge in height, experience and depth but, ignoring highscoring Oscar Robertson's skill for the moment, Cincinnati will have an incalculable edge in his mere presence. It is now impossible (after Robertson's brilliant sophomore year) to go up against Cincinnati without being distracted and indeed intimidated by his proved potential. State Coach Tex Winter will doubtless put his ace defenseman, Roy DeWitz, on Robertson and this man-to-man contest may be the most interesting aspect of the game. The only reasonable predictions are that the score will be high and probably the country's second-best team will never get to the final round.

San Francisco should have an easier time of it en route to Louisville, though if they play Seattle in the second round, as appears likely, there is a chance of an upset. A peak performance by Seattle's sharpshooting Elgin Baylor could outweigh San Francisco's usually low point production. But it must be added that both Baylor's and Seattle's records this year have been compiled against a weak schedule, so that a victory over the Dons is a remote prospect.

The eastern draw is a hopelessly complex huggermugger of talent, and not just because several conference titles are still undecided. The closest approach to a team with over-all superiority is Temple, with the impossible-to-overrate Guy Rodgers and the vastly underrated Jay Norman. But the Owls' schedule has not been of a caliber to test them at the other three positions and it is still apparent that there is a grave weakness at center. Both of Temple's pre-Louisville games will be tough—first, it appears, against the Atlantic Coast winner and second probably against West Virginia. Both entries from the ACC and the Southern Conference are decided by season's-end tournaments. West Virginia seems certain to win its title, but four teams—North Carolina, Duke, N.C. State and Maryland—are a tossup in the ACC. Any one could qualify for the trip to Louisville.

The lower half of the East's draw is just as muddled. Kentucky, Notre Dame and the Big Ten champion must be grouped as favorites over the rest of the field. Playing on their home court at Lexington and in the easier of the second rounds gives Kentucky a strong edge, but the opinion here is that this year's Wildcats cannot match Notre Dame or any Big Ten title winner in talent. Ed Beck, Kentucky's poised and intelligent center, appears to direct the team from his high post position—an unnatural spot at best—and the Wildcats often give the impression of being leaderless. Notre Dame's hopes rest largely on the ability of Tom Hawkins to maintain his phenomenal scoring and rebounding. The Irish have beaten some of the Midwest's best teams (Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern) but the over-all record is in-and-out against a spotty schedule. If Michigan State earns the right to represent the Big Ten—with essentially the same group that did so well last year in Kansas City's NCAA tournament—they deserve rank over any squad in the East except Temple. The Spartans have great poise and high morale, ingredients as essential in tournament play as skill on the floor.

Kentucky's home-court advantage—any team's, for that matter—can hardly be overemphasized, and it is a pleasure to report a most refreshing development on this score which, coming late in the season as it does, offers a happy augury for next year. That smiling Yankee from Dixie, North Carolina's Coach Frank McGuire, has come up with an idea that could do more for basketball than anything since someone thought of putting something besides peaches in baskets.

In common with all sensible fans, McGuire has long deplored the unsportsmanlike behavior by home-team partisans which has become a fixture of competition in nearly every section of the country. The harassment of visiting players, especially at tense moments of a game, the heckling and intimidation of officials are not just bad manners. They make laughable the notion that a game at Lawrence, Kansas or, yes, Chapel Hill, North Carolina is a true test of which is the better team. From the moment a visiting player is introduced before a game, thousands of hostile throats, practically at his elbow, drench him in invective and insult. For basketball the seats are closer to the action than in any other collegiate sport—at some schools, spectators literally edge the playing floor. Anyone who doubts the effect this has on players and referees need only check his own school's record. Almost without exception, there is a wide disparity between home and road results—which can no longer be chalked off to differences in lighting or long trips without adequate rest.

Well, McGuire's idea is simple, though it took courage to put it into practice. He refuses to allow his players to be introduced before a road game, thus at least sparing them the indignity of standing alone before 10,000 misguided yowlers. And, more important, before home games he makes a personal pregame appeal to his own partisans. "Winning a game is not so important," he tells them, "that you have to get barbaric about it." His popularity has already improved conditions at Chapel Hill. This idea is earnestly recommended to the association of college coaches, which will meet in Louisville after this year's tournament. A simple resolution, pledging each coach to follow McGuire's example, would go a long way to eliminate this blemish on the game.

Oh, yes, the NCAA tournament. Well, here's a free guess: the Cincinnati Bearcats to win.


SAN FRANCISCO'S Art Day scrambles for ball as teammates Mike Parmer (32) and Al Dunbar (11) lend moral support in Dons' conference-winning game with St. Mary's.


NCAA PAIRINGS will lead to the crowning of 1958's intercollegiate champion the night of March 22 in Louisville Fair Grounds arena. The above draw, with scores added as games are played, can be a permanent record of the tournament for interested fans.


Atlantic Coast Champion
New York, March 11
Boston College

Southern Champion
New York, March 11

New York, March 11

Charlotte, N.C., March 14

Charlotte, N.C., March 14

Charlotte March 15

Miami (Ohio)
March 11

Tennessee Tech
March 11
Notre Dame

Lexington, Ky., March 14

Lexington, March 14
Big Ten Champion

Lexington March 15

Oklahoma State
March 11
Loyola, New Orleans

Lawrence, Kans., March 14
Southwest Champion

Kansas State
Lawrence, March 14

Lawrence March 15

Skyline Champion
March 10, 11 or 12

Idaho State
March 10, 11 or 12
Border Champion

San Francisco, March 14
San Francisco

San Francisco, March 14
Pacific Coast Champion

San Francisco March 15

at Evanston, Ill.
Louusville, March 21
Eastern Champion

at Stillwater, Okla.
National Third Place
Louisville, March 22

site as yet unannounced
Louisville, March 21
Western Champion

National Champion


SPORTS ILLUSTRATED picks the best in basketball without regard to conference standings

Joel Eaves
Rex Frederick
Great stretch run, win over Kentucky marks Tigers strongest in SEC. Ineligible for NCAA. Frederick top scorer, rebounder.

Missouri Valley
Chuck Orsborn
Barney Cable
Same team that won NIT last year should win again if invited as expected. Rebounding of Cable, McMillon biggest single factor.

Pacific Coast
Pete Newell
Earl Robinson
Newell-style ball-control offense quarterbacked by Robinson, plus best defensive record in conference. Weakness is shooting.

Missouri Valley
George Smith
Oscar Robertson
Nation's best floor shooters, second in total offense despite strong schedule. Recent injuries only cloud on tournament hopes.

Tom Blackburn
Don Lane
Deliberate offense directed by Lane, fine feeder and playmaker. Good first five, but somewhat untested by mediocre schedule.

Atlantic Coast
Harold Bradley
Jim Newcome
Seasoned, all-veteran club that started poorly, then won 11 in row despite weak bench. Major flaw is so-so rebounding.

Big Eight
Dick Harp
Wilt Chamberlain
Awesome ability of Chamberlain "in close was not enough to counteract in-and-out floor shooting. Playmaker also sadly missing.

Big Eight
Tex Winter
Jack Parr
Smart, seasoned, tall and deep Weakness is only fair speed. Not in top 15 in any important category but still perhaps nation's best.

Adolph Rupp
John Crigler
Single-pivot pattern offense, usual strong Kentucky defense. Sound on fundamentals, lack over-all height and floor general.

Atlantic Coast
Bud Millikan
John Nacincik
Fine floor club, well-drilled defensively and deliberate on offense. Hampered by midseason injuries. Could still take ACC title.

Big Ten
Forddy Anderson
John Green
Superb rebounders despite only fair height. Well-poised first five but weak bench. Green most improved first-rank player anywhere.

Atlantic Coast
Frank McGuire
Tommy Kearns
Still to be reckoned with in ACC and tournament play. Brennan top scorer in league. Kearns fine playmaker. Poised, smart, deep.

Atlantic Coast
Everett Case
John Richter
Four talented veterans and one sophomore have surprised ACC favorites. Evenly balanced scoring punch, only fair bench, height.

John Jordan
Tom Hawkins
Despite weak spots in schedule rates NCAA bid on high scoring and rebounding led by Hawkins. Only fair over-all height, bench.

Hank Iba
Aden Clark
Excellent floor and free-throw shooting, near best in nation, plus typical Iba ball control and tight defense. Reserves green.

Big Ten
Ray Eddy
Harvey Austin
Iron-man, all-junior first five led by the brilliant Austin. Medium height, only fair shooters, great speed but little in reserve.

West Coast
Phil Woolpert
Mike Farmer
Nation's best defensively in ball-control league. Well-balanced scoring, Farmer fine on defense. Seasoned, deep, just fair shooters.

John Castellani
Elgin Baylor
Among the top five in rebounds, which explains success of great fast break. When high-scoring Baylor is hot can match best anywhere.

Harry Litwack
Guy Rodgers
Possibly best-coached team on list. Power at every position but center. Strong zone defense. Rodgers nation's best playmaker.

Fred Schaus
Lloyd Sharrar
So-so schedule no real guide to strength. Fine boardwork keys running game. Good height and depth. Miss adequate floor leader.