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Original Issue

The field against the Buckeyes

Last year's champion, Ohio State, is this year's best bet for the NCAA title

When the basketballseason began four months ago the essential question was, "Can anyone beatOhio State?" This week, as 24 of the country's best teams get set for theNCAA championship, the question is all but answered. No one has beaten theBuckeyes yet, and it will be surprising if Ohio State doesn't win its secondstraight national championship at Kansas City with the same ease that it wentthrough the entire regular season.

Ohio State is thebest college basketball team of all time. There is no better college centerthan methodical, deadpan Jerry Lucas. He was an All-America as a sophomore, wasa standout on the U.S. Olympic team and has improved since then. He handles abasketball casually and confidently, as if it were no bigger than a grape, andgoes about his own court business with the emotionless majesty of a SupremeCourt judge.

John Havlicek is aferocious defensive player whose forte is stopping the opposition's offensivestars. He revels in such personal combat. In a timeout at a recent game atrainer tried to wipe away the blood streaming from a cut on Havlicek's knee."Leave it there," said Havlicek. "It's good luck."

The team'splaymaker is Larry Siegfried. He is a big guard (6 feet 4 inches), adept atspotting weaknesses and capable of capitalizing on them. He has an excellentoutside shot and likes to drive around any opponent who guards him closely.

Coached by FredTaylor, a demanding perfectionist, Ohio State is' above all confident andsmart. In winning 23 straight games this year it has faced teams that tried torun it to death, and ran over them instead; has met slow creep-and-crawlattacks, and showed it could creep and crawl much better. Against allopposition the team shooting average is magnificent: Lucas .614, Havlicek .558,Siegfried .462, Mel Nowell .479, Richie Hoyt .456.

In a season thatincluded one or more games against such top teams as Iowa, Purdue, Indiana, St.Louis, Detroit and St. Bonaventure, OSU had only two close calls, a two-pointwin over the Bonnies in New York and a one point defeat of Iowa at Iowa.

The mostsignificant game, as far as opponents in the NCAA are concerned, was the 100-65defeat of Indiana. There, with a variety of personal grudges involved, OhioState showed how it plays when it wants desperately to win. Without displayinga flicker of excitement, it calculatingly crushed Indiana. OSU could beexpected to play the same way in the last two rounds of the NCAA.

If Ohio State is tobe beaten, the defeat almost certainly has to come in these last two rounds. Asthe NCAA draw (right) shows, Ohio State should have a relatively easy time ofit until March 24 at Kansas City. Ohio University, the Ohio Valley Champion(Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky will hold a playoff) andthe at-large team, which is yet to be picked, are all outclassed. Louisvillerecently lost four of five, and neither Kentucky nor Vanderbilt, which willhold a playoff for the Southeastern Conference spot, should bother OSU.

But the easternteam which Ohio State must face in the Kansas City semifinals will be no patsy.Unfortunately, the pairings in the East, the strongest single division of thetournament, are preposterous. Three of the weakest teams, Princeton, GeorgeWashington and St. Joseph's, are in one bracket, while three strong ones, St.Bonaventure, St. John's and Wake Forest, are in the other. Only one of thestrong trio will even reach the quarter-finals, where it ought to win easilyand go to Kansas City. But which of the three? Logic dictates that it should beSt. Bonaventure. With lean and languid Tom Stith, the All-America who averages30 points a game, and the highest-scoring offense in the country, the Bonnieshave ranked second nationally for weeks. But their fast-break offense andfrantic, pressing defense may have left this team too tired for a tournamentgrind.

Wake Forest is asurprising and strong entry from the Atlantic Coast Conference. When its twolittle 5-foot 11-inch guards, Billy Packer and Alley Hart, are hitting fromoutside to help huge (6 feet 8, 240 pounds) Len Chappell, this team looks verygood. But it must beat both St. Bona-venture and St. John's to stay in thetournament. St. John's has been winning impressively of late (eight in a row).It plays Wake Forest at Madison Square Garden, its home court, and could carrythe impetus of a win there down to Charlotte. St. John's does not play its beston the road, however, and is severely hampered if Tony Jackson, itshigh-scoring jump shot, is closely guarded.

In the Midwest theNCAA has made two good at-large selections, Marquette and Houston, but neitherappears up to beating Kansas State, which probably will face Cincinnati in anintriguing clash of styles at Lawrence, Kans. on March 18. Cincinnati startedthe season like a team expecting help from a ghost of the previous year, OscarRobertson. But after losing three of its first eight, it turned to quick, shortpasses and fewer shots, blossomed into a strong defensive team that dogsopponents with a switching man-to-man. It has won its last 18 in a row whileplaying in a tough conference. The Cincinnati offense depends on getting theball to 6-foot 9-inch Paul Hogue in the pivot, and the team's weakness is thatHogue sometimes isn't there. He draws many unnecessary fouls and has had to sitout parts of important games.

In Kansas State,Cincinnati would be meeting another team with a good defense. Shooting only 38%this year, State has bothered the opposition so much with an aggressive defensethat it has allowed foes to shoot only 36%. "Defense has saved ourhides," says Coach Tex Winter. Larry Comley, a junior forward, is a goodscorer, though he does shoot too much. Kansas State has a rather lamentablehistory in tournament play, and may well find Cincinnati too rough.

In the West thereare two at-large teams to be selected, but neither will be a contender. Onlythe Skyline Conference champion has a good chance of blocking USC's road toKansas City. Utah and Colorado State tied for the Skyline title when Stateboxed in Utah's "Billy the Hill" McGill in a season finale Saturday atColorado. If the 6-foot 9-inch McGill, who jump-shoots like a forward, hookslike a center and dribbles like a guard, can help Utah win the playoff game,then USC could expect to face Utah in the best game of the year west of theContinental Divide.

USC would try tocounteract McGill with John Rudometkin, its big Russian center who flows aboutthe basket as if dancing the lead in Swan Lake. The Russian will get help fromChris Appel, the son of a French newspaperman who has twice led the team inscoring in the past week, and a defense that makes up in power what it lacks infinesse.

Mention also shouldbe made of two teams that for reasons of social or athletic absurdity are notplaying. Mississippi State, the Southeastern Conference champion, will notcompete because state law forbids athletic contests against teams with Negroes.West Virginia, the best in the Southern Conference, is out because itsconference championship is settled in a ridiculous postseason tournament.George Washington, a team with a 9-16 record, had a hot streak and beat outWest Virginia.

The West Virginiadefeat points out one thing. The ability of major college teams has reached thelevel where even a great one like Ohio State cannot afford to relax on a singlenight. This is the only solace for tournament coaches suffering from the OhioState trauma. They know that man for man their teams are weaker. But they arehoping for that one big night that is bound to come for someone, when OhioState is cold, and the someone gets very hot indeed.



Big Ten
W 23 L 0
Coach Taylor

Beautifully balanced attack with starters averaging .494of their field-goal tries. Prefers a fast break, but is not rattled when forcedto slow down. Defensive star John Havlicek covers most dangerous foe.


W 22 L 3
Coach Donovan

Used a fast break to become country's highest-scoringteam. Has aggressive defense designed to force errors. Rebounds poorly.Vulnerable when facing team that moves ball upcourt quickly.


Missouri Valley
W 23 L 3
Coach Jucker

Off to a slow start, the Bearcats soon learned toconcentrate on their defense, winning 18 straight. Use a cautious offense thatdepends on getting ball to 6-foot-9 Paul Hogueinpivot, Weisenhahn'sshooting.


W 19 L 5
Coach Twogood

Gets maximum benefit from tough rebounding that cancrush morale of opponents who don't relish body contact. Neil Edwards,excellent outside shot, keeps foes from concentrating defense onRudometkin.


Big Eight
W 20 L 4
Coach Winter

A strong-finishing team, with nine good men givingunusual depth. Combines deliberate offense with defense that picks up opponentsat half court. Uses full-court press very early if behind. Major weakness: poorshooting.


Atlantic Coast
W 17 L 10
Coach McKinney

Combines the great strength of Chappell, leading scorerin the ACC, with long jump shots by guards. Will fast-break, sometimes scoringin dramatic bursts which demoralize foes. Needs outside shooting to win.


W 16 L 9
Coach Lewis

Good team speed and shooting, but lack of big postman—6-foot-6 Luckenbill is tallest starter—has contributed to inconsistency.Defensive standout Gary Phillips, after slow start, has now added scoring punchto attack.


W 21 L 4
Coach Ramsay

Improved remarkably after bad start. Is aggressive, goodball-handling team, relies primarily on fast-moving patterns, sticky defense,rebounding of 6-foot-5 Egan (also an able shooter) and 6-foot-8 VinceKempton.


W 19 L4
Coach Lapchick

Unusual backcourt speed and ball handling, excellentrebounding, especially by greatly improved Leroy Ellis, complement long jumpshooting by Jackson. Has tendency to make critical errors, however, whenpressed.


W 18 L 7
Coach Hickman

Started fast, but tailed off badly when running gamesputtered, defense weakened. A tall front court—6-foot-10 Fred Sawyer, 6-foot-7Bud Olsen, 6-foot-5 Turner, who is adept with fadeaway jump—make theattack.



George Washington
N. Y., March 14

Rhode Island
St. Bonaventure
N. Y., March 14

Wake Forest
St. John's
N. Y., March 14

St. Joseph's
Charlotte, March 17

Charlotte, March 17

Charlotte, March 18


Ohio University
Louisville, March 14

Ohio Valley Champion
Louisville, March 14

Ohio State
Louisville, March 17

Southeastern Champion
Louisville, March 17

Louisville, March 18


Houston, March 15

Texas Tech
Lawrence, Kans., March 17

Kansas State
Lawrence, Kans., March 17

Lawrence, March 18


Border Champion
Portland, March 15

Portland, March 15

Skyline Champion
West Coast Champion
Portland, March 17

Portland, March 17

Portland, March 18

Kansas City, March 24

Kansas City, March 25


Kansas City, March 24