By Saturday night, nine conference champions had qualified for berths in the NCAA 25-team field: Davidson (25-2), Miami of Ohio (14-10), Princeton (19-6), Purdue (18-4), Santa Clara (24-1), St. Joseph's (17-10), Texas A&M (17-6), Weber State (24-2) and UCLA (24-0), which will go after an unprecedented third straight title. Six other conference titles were yet to be decided, but 10 independents were selected: Colorado State (15-6), Dayton (20-6), Duquesne (19-3), Marquette (21-4), New Mexico State (23-3), Notre Dame (20-5), Trinity of Texas (19-4), Seattle (19-7), St. John's (22-4) and Villanova (21-4). The NIT, with 16 places to fill, had chosen Boston College (20-3), Rutgers (19-3), Southern Illinois (16-7), Temple (18-8) and West Texas State (18-7),
1. UCLA (24-0)
2. SANTA CLARA (24-1)
3. WEBER STATE (24-2)
A new electric sign at New Mexico repeatedly flashed WE ARE ON OUR WAY TO THE NIT, but the Lobos will not be going anywhere now. They squandered a 44-32 halftime lead against Brigham Young, committed 33 turnovers and lost in overtime 77-71. Wyoming—which first beat Utah 84-62, then downed BYU 79-69 to force a playoff with the Cougars for the Western AC title—may at least reach New York.
On-again off-again California gave UCLA its biggest scare of the season before losing in overtime 84-77. Cal was ahead by 12 points with 14:09 to go, but by 8:45 had dissipated its lead. Steve Patterson opened the overtime with a three-point play for UCLA, which went on to pick up its 40th straight win. What had kept the Golden Bears in contention was the fine play of Bob Presley, Jackie Ridgle and Charlie Johnson. Presley limited Lew Alcindor to 17 points, while Ridgle drove through for 28 points and Johnson hit from long range for 25.
Weber State (page 58) finished on top of the Big Sky, Santa Clara took the West Coast AC title and Texas A & M won the Southeast Conference championship. Dennis Awtrey had 54 points as the Broncos beat Pepperdine 62-52 and Loyola 89-66. The Aggies, who had six one-point wins in the SWC, won easily this time, beating Arkansas 79-66 and SMU 119-98.
Texas-El Paso upset Seattle 88-82 and Colorado State 78-58. State also lost to West Texas State 74-66.
1. LA SALLE (23-1)
2. DUQUESNE (19-3)
3. ST. JOHN'S (22-4)
"I just grabbed it and threw it up and it went in" was John Connolly's amazed recollection of the events that led to his basket with one second left in overtime and St. Joseph's triumph over Temple 68-67 for the Middle Atlantic championship. Princeton was also a one-point winner—60-59 over Columbia—as it used its height advantage and 27 points by Jeff Petrie to take the Ivy title for the seventh time in 10 years.
Austin Carr of Notre Dame, who had 32 points in an 89-72 win over Valparaiso, had 26 more as the Irish beat St. John's in overtime 71-67. Villanova beat Xavier 79-75, with Howard Porter putting in 24 points, and Seton Hall 73-56, as Johnny Jones got 24. Bill Smith of Syracuse outscored Calvin Murphy of Niagara 33-32, but the Purple Eagles prevailed 103-92. Murphy then had 39 in a 99-75 win over Fairfield. Bob Lanier set a St. Bona venture record with 51 points, making good on 20 of 29 shots as the Bonnies beat Seton Hall 97-79. He then had what he termed "a lousy night" as he made 14 of 22 tries and scored 33 points in a 91-64 win over Canisius.
Boston College broke its record for consecutive wins, making it 15 in a row with a 110-80 victory over Boston University and an 80-74 win over Holy Cross. Rutgers extended its best streak ever to 14 with three close calls: 81-79 over Connecticut, 62-61 over Fordham and 59-57 over Perm State. Bob Graecen of Rutgers got the last of his 31 points against Fordham on a game-winning jumper with three seconds left. Army, which has the best defensive record in the country, took care of Navy 51-35. La Salle ended its season by routing West Chester 91-73.
1. DAVIDSON (25-2)
2. NORTH CAROLINA (22-3)
3. KENTUCKY (20-4)
Davidson (page 28) won the Southern Conference tournament, but Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina all were upset. Vanderbilt surprised Kentucky 101-99 with a three-guard offense that forced the Wildcats into 16 first-half turnovers. The three guards—Tom Hagan, Rudy Thacker and Ralph Mayes—scored 61 points and Perry Wallace set a school record by sinking nine straight field-goal attempts. Steve Vandenburg had 31 points as Duke stunned North Carolina 87-81. And South Carolina blew its chance to tie the Tar Heels for the Atlantic Coast lead when it lost to North Carolina State 67-64. Tennessee was upset by Auburn 71-60, but beat LSU 87-63 as its Chinese defense held Pete Maravich to his lowest output of the season—20 points. Maravich then got 49 against Mississippi, but even they were not enough. The Tigers lost 78-76.
1. PURDUE (18-4)
2. DRAKE (21-4)
3. NOTRE DAME (20-5)
The infighting was as furious in the Big Eight as anywhere. Kansas moved into first place by beating Oklahoma 83-58, while Colorado was knocked off by seventh-place Nebraska 79-65. If the Jayhawks could beat the Buffaloes they would win the conference title. The Jayhawks could not. Both teams used zones as they attempted to contain the other's high scorer—Cliff Meely of Colorado and Dave Robisch of Kansas. Meely won the duel 27-6, the Buffaloes the game, 75-67, and the two teams were tied for the lead. In the process Meely broke the Big Eight scoring record for sophomores, pushing his total to 330 points, 25 more than Wilt Chamberlain had. Kansas State dropped out of contention, losing to Missouri 66-62 and Nebraska 88-71. The Missouri win came on a unique bit of freelancing by Don Tomlinson and Pete Helmbock. Tied up by his opponents with nine seconds to go and the score 62-62, Tomlinson flipped a backward pass through a tangle of legs. Helmbock somehow grabbed the ball, went up in the air and sank a reverse layup with four seconds remaining.
The Missouri Valley race was also deadlocked, Drake tying Louisville for the lead as it trounced the Cardinals 101-67.
Rick Mount of Purdue was on target with his jump shots, getting 31 points in a 74-72 win over Michigan State and 43 in a 97-85 win over Iowa. Those victories—plus two losses by Ohio State—gave the Boilermakers the Big Ten title.
Miami of Ohio clinched first place in the Mid-American, scoring its last dozen points from the foul line as it held off Toledo 70-65. Murray State beat Western Kentucky 89-79 to gain at least a tie for the Ohio Valley championship. Only Morehead State, an 84-64 winner over Tennessee Tech, can catch the Thoroughbreds.
There was 4:32 left and host Dayton led Morehead State 75-63 when officials called a halt to the game. The contest had endured despite 42 fouls and flare-ups between players, but when a fan hit a referee that was it. Marquette defeated Tulane 85-72 and Creighton 79-76. Spencer Haywood's 45 points and 25 rebounds helped Detroit beat Canisius 107-88.