The lineup for the postseason tournaments was taking shape last week, with the majority of the country's top 10 teams headed for the NCAA. Assured of all but one of the 15 major conference winners, the NCAA has defending champion Cincinnati (Missouri Valley), Arizona State (Western AC), Texas (Southwest) and St. Joseph's (Mid-Atlantic) already in, along with some strong independents: NYU (15-2), Pitt (17-5), Loyola of Chicago (23-1), Notre Dame (16-7), Colorado State (17-4), Texas Western (17-5), Oklahoma City (17-7), Seattle (18-5), Utah State (20-5) and Oregon State (15-7).
Meanwhile, New York's National Invitation Tournament was still working on its 12-team field. Miami (21-4), Providence (17-4), Memphis State (17-5), Canisius (16-5), Wichita (16-7) and Marquette (14-7) have accepted. Still hopeful are Idaho (18-4), Niagara (12-4), Penn State (14-5), La Salle (15-6), Temple (14-6), Fordham (15-7), St. Louis (15-8) and Houston (14-10).
Just as long as Notre Dame's aggressive Jay Miller was where he could keep a watchful eye—and a too firm hand—on NYU's Barry Kramer, the Irish did just fine. They even led 44-36 early in the second half. But then Miller got into foul trouble and Kramer got going. Scoring a total of 29 points, he led NYU to an 80-79 win.
It seemed that St. Joseph's was in for an easy night when Tom Wynne and Jimmy Lynam shot the Hawks ahead of La Salle 20-10 in their Mid-Atlantic showdown. But Coach Jack Ramsay wasn't taking any chances. He put his Hawks into an all-court press and bigger La Salle did just what Ramsay hoped it would. The Explorers threw the ball away and shot badly as St. Joe's won easily 66-49, its fifth title in a row.
Pitt, upset by Temple 77-71 earlier in the week and with an NCAA invitation at stake, was on guard against Penn State. The Panthers split State's defense and won 83-67. Providence, after barely beating Assumption 68-67, held Seton Hall's Nick Werkman to 13 points and defeated the Pirates 82-62. Niagara, however, couldn't hold St. Bona venture's Fred Crawford. He scored 22 points and the Eagles succumbed 87-63. St. John's played its waiting game against Loyola of Chicago, but found waiting is useless when you can't shoot, losing 70-47.
The Ivy League had one less contender. Penn and Princeton were still on top but Yale, a half-game behind, knocked Cornell out of the race 61-60. Rhode Island beat Connecticut 65-62 to take the Yankee Conference lead. The top three:
1. NYU (15-2)
2. ST. JOSEPH'S (20-3)
3. PROVIDENCE (17-4)
Kentucky's Adolph Rupp won't win any titles this year—except Most Disappointed—but he isn't about to help anybody else win one either. The Baron, who fretted dreadfully while his Wildcats lost to Vanderbilt 69-67, had them ready for Auburn, and Kentucky trapped the Tigers' interminable shuffle with a solid defense. Meanwhile, Cotton Nash, back in form after four poor games, scored 28 points, and down went Auburn (78-59) into a second-place tie with Georgia Tech in the Southeastern Conference. Tech, struggling painfully at times, got past Tennessee 72-60 and Georgia 66-58 in overtime. With two games to play, Mississippi State was all alone at the top, but the Maroons, who beat Georgia 86-75 and LSU 99-64, aren't likely to go to the integrated NCAA tournament. If Georgia Tech and Auburn tie for second, Tech will go on the basis of its regular-season win over the Tigers.
It is one of the unfortunate curiosities of college basketball that the regular season doesn't count in the Atlantic Coast and Southern conferences. Last week Duke, with Art Heyman scoring 40 points, overwhelmed North Carolina 106-93 to become only the second team in conference history to go undefeated in its ACC games. Southern Conference leader West Virginia, after getting past independent Penn State 83-82, romped over George Washington 104-86. But now both Duke and the Mountaineers must win at conference championship tournaments this weekend to get the coveted NCAA spots. The top three:
1. DUKE (21-2)
2. MISSISSIPPI STATE (19-5)
3. GEORGIA TECH (20-4)
Everything seemed normal enough when Cincinnati trampled North Texas State 91-61. But suddenly there was Tulsa scoring the first 13 points of the game and then leading the shocked Bearcats 48-37 with eight minutes to go. And at Cincinnati, no less. The Missouri Valley champions pulled through, but just barely, 55-54, after Ken Cunningham, a rarely used sophomore, put in three 15-foot shots and George Wilson sank a free throw at the end. The MVC had another surprise, too, when Bradley beat Wichita 64-63.
Ohio State and Illinois were still tied in the Big Ten, with Indiana a close third. Gary Bradds totaled 71 points while leading the Bucks past Michigan State 87-77 and Iowa 83-70. Illinois got by Purdue 87-79 and Wisconsin 89-77. Indiana's Jimmy Rayl, held to two points in a 72-71 victory over Iowa, scored 56, a conference record, as the Hoosiers outshot and outgalloped Michigan State 113-94.
It was a long pull, but Kansas State finally made it to the top in the Big Eight. The Wildcats beat Kansas 67-54 and Iowa State 62-50 to get there, while Missouri upset Colorado 60-58, and the Buffs, in turn, put down Oklahoma State 49-40. Bowling Green, after a good 67-58 win over Notre Dame, defeated Western Michigan 82-75 to remain tied with Toledo in the Mid-American. The top three:
1. CINCINNATI (21-1)
2. LOYOLA OF CHICAGO (23-1)
3. OHIO STATE (17-3)
It was a week of bribe offers, riots and fights in the Southwest Conference. But nothing bothered Texas. The big Longhorns bowled over Texas A&M 83-73 and managed to stay out of a postgame brawl at Austin, then smothered SMU 92-76 to clinch the championship after two Mustangs had reported a bribe attempt by a fellow student.
The first Western AC title went to the favorite, Arizona State. While Utah helped out with a 106-100 win over Brigham Young, the Sun Devils outran Wyoming 82-72 and New Mexico 76-62. Houston slowed down Loyola of Chicago but still lost 62-58. The top three:
1. ARIZONA STATE (22-2)
2. TEXAS (16-5)
3. TEXAS WESTERN (17-5)
All season long Idaho waited to get at Seattle. The rooters at Moscow (Idaho, that is) were convinced that their fabulous Gus Johnson would enable the Vandals to beat the Coast team. Last week Idaho had its chance. Johnson got his 22 points and 24 rebounds, but Eddie Miles scored 25 and Seattle won 77-72. The Pacific Coast had two close races. Stanford led in the Big Six after beating UCLA 73-69 in overtime. But the Bruins, who came back to take California 64-57, and Washington were both within reach. Nor was USC, which split a pair of games with Oregon State, losing 76-49 and winning 67-58, out of it. In the West Coast AC, San Francisco lost to San Jose 49-48, and now only a game separated St. Mary's and Santa Clara from the Dons. The top three:
1. COLORADO STATE (17-4)
2. SEATTLE (18-5)
3. STANFORD (15-6)