It is the overwhelming preseason opinion that CINCINNATI will repeat its mastery here, on the assumption that earnest Coach George Smith will somehow solve the problem of how to contain the towering pivot-men his boys will meet nearly everywhere in the conference. If he does, with either of fair-sized veterans Ron Dykes or Larry Willey or taller but untested sophomore Mel Landfried, it will be a real accomplishment, and the Bearcats might then win the title rather easily. Certainly the offensive strength is spectacular, built around All-America Oscar Robertson and including veterans Ralph Davis and Mike Mendenhall, who are exceptionally tall for backcourtmen. Reserves are Rod Nall, Dave Tenwick, Dick Cetrone, Carl Bouldin, Bill Whitaker and Bob Wiesenhahn. Cincinnati will be a national power on Robertson's scoring ability alone. It would be nice to see this talented young man develop some defensive ambitions. At ST. LOUIS, friendly, witty new Coach John Benington has the top contender, a squad that is very tall and well seasoned up front and needs only some scoring punch in the backcourt. The big veterans are Bob Ferry, Cal Burnett, George Burkel and Pete McCaffrey, and they are backed by 6-foot-10 sophomore Bob Nordmann. One guard spot seems sure to go to Tom Smith; Jim Dailey, John Jones and sophomore Glen Mankowski are leading candidates for the other, TULSA merits dark-horse consideration for first place and appears certain to move way up in the standings. Coach Clarence Iba has his three top scorers back; Bobby Lee Goodall, Jack Pontious and Guard Roger Wendel. With them, he will likely field veteran Ed Scruggs and sophomore David Voss, for a starting five that averages close to 6 feet 5. Reserves include Ray Gross, Leland Harms, Billy Hogue, Charles Marlen, Joe Quarterman, Gene Estes and Jim Weaver—strong and also impressively tall. Under the boards, both on attack and defense, Tulsa will be powerful. The rebounding that made BRADLEY SO tough last year is gone, and so are most of the topflight reserves. Coach Chuck Orsborn has three regulars: Bobby Joe Mason, Joe McDade and Mike Owens. Among the sophomores, only Al Saunders appears ready for a starting role. Dave Moran will be at center, and the rest of the squad includes Gene Morse, Bill Roecker, Bob Rousey and Dan Smith. Bradley may be too shallow in first-string talent to duplicate last year's excellent record. A starting five averaging 6 feet 6 is entirely possible at WICHITA. It would consist of Ev Wessel, Al Tate and Elbert Urban up front and Sy Rosdietcher and John Gales in the backcourt. Reserves for such a regular lineup would average 6 feet 3, and would include Tom Mallott, Bob Glascock, Phil Hayden, Martin Pauley, Ron Heller, Virgil Brady and Dick Casidy. Obviously, Wichita's Ralph Miller can hardly voice that most popular of all coaching complaints, lack of height. His problems revolve around the guard posts where only the slick Rosdietcher seems secure in the job. The frontline scoring power is very impressive. HOUSTON will also have extreme height up front in veteran Ed Erickson, sophomores Carl Raleigh and Ted Luckenbill and transfer student Bill Hathaway. These four average about 6 feet 9, and all but Hathaway are expected to see a good deal of action. The veteran backcourt combination of Bernie Kapner and Bill Tuffli is another asset. Sophomore Gary Phillips is a fine ball handler, who averaged 15 points a game with the frosh last year, and may possibly start in place of Kapner. Reserves include Wilbur Bigott, Pete Markle, Bryan Schisler and Jack Welch. The great Red Murrell is gone at DRAKE, and Coach Maurice John must build practically a new team around the lone returning regular, Bob Tealer. He hopes for help from transfer students Dave Terre and Martin Miller, who provide the only real height, and Corky Alderson, who brings back-court savvy. Veteran reserves include Lee Bowman, Al Bush, Jim Dowd, Frank Martel and Jim Westcott, and two promising sophomore guards are Jim Guydon and Lee McKnight. But the over-all lack of experience will make it hard to repeat last year's record, NORTH TEXAS STATE endured rough handling in its first season as a member of this strong conference, and is probably in for still more of the same. Nevertheless, Coach Pete Shands has high hopes, particularly because of the presence of transfer students Jim Mudd, Darrell Reitzel, Emmett Baker and Ken Boren. The best veterans are Don Cummins, Ken Hinkle, Ray Toole and Ken Ward, and sophomore Bill McLaughlin may start. Reserves include Ed McClelen, Al Oglesby, Cecil Fickel and Ballard Hopkins. Unquestionably, the Eagles have benefited from their year of rugged competition, but most of the other teams will be better, too.
Man to watch
BOB FERRY, ST. LOUIS
An exceptionally accurate hooker and strong boardman, he may lead the Billikens to upset of Cincinnati.