The postseason tournament picture was beginning to take shape. The NCAA, patiently waiting for conference races to be decided, picked up Mid-Atlantic champion St. Joseph's (20-4) and seemed almost certain to get Ohio State (Big Ten), Kansas State (Big Eight), Texas Tech (Southwest), Princeton (Ivy) and Rhode Island (Yankee). But the situation was still unsettled in the Atlantic Coast and Southern (where championship tournaments begin Thursday), Southeastern, Ohio Valley, Missouri Valley, Skyline, Big Five, West Coast and Border conferences. Meanwhile the NIT, with a spot reserved for the Missouri Valley runner-up (Bradley or Cincinnati), filled two of its four remaining berths with Temple (18-5) and Niagara (15-4), which caught St. Bonaventure with its usually dependable defenses lagging and upset the Bonnies 87-77 at, of all places, Olean (see page 24). Other NIT possibilities: Tennessee State (24-4); St. Louis (17-7); NYU (11-9); Skyline runner-up (Colorado State U. or Utah).
New York basketball, once so dominating but lately a pushover for visitors, lifted its head again last week in Madison Square Garden. St. John's broke down Marquette's fast break with some robust rebounding by 6-foot-9 Leroy Ellis, and Tony Jackson (who between them also scored 54 points) and whipped the helter-skelter Hilltoppers 85-69. NYU, for once playing the pure, glue-tight defense that Coach Lou Rossini admires, stopped Wake Forest's outside shooters, outsmarted and outmaneuvered the bigger Deacons under the boards and upset them 70-61. However, a New Yorker who got away drew the most cheers. Duke's hustling Art Heyman (from Long Island) fired in 36 points and led the Blue Devils past inefficient Seton Hall 112-78.
Princeton, only a game away from the Ivy crown after beating surprisingly difficult Harvard 80-73, lost to Dartmouth 73-69; Navy rallied to beat Army 61-55. The top three:
March 6, 1961
1. ST. BONAVENTURE (21-2)
2. ST. JOHN'S (17-4)
3. ST. JOSEPH'S (20-4)
The SEC, mired in mediocrity, was fumbling to a conclusion, and there was a faint suspicion that Kentucky's Adolph Rupp may yet have the last laugh—and an NCAA bid. With first-place Mississippi State prepared to withdraw because of its refusal to play against Negroes, the invitation will go to the runner-up. And it could be Rupp's Wildcats, who bustled into a three-way tie for second (with Vanderbilt and Florida) after nudging aside Vandy 60-59 on Ned Jennings' basket and trouncing Alabama 80-53. Vanderbilt recovered to beat Florida 77-60, thereby creating the triple deadlock.
North Carolina, using a "California-style" man-to-man "to keep Duke running," beat the Blue Devils 69-66 on York Larese's backhand flip and Yogi Peteet's foul shot in overtime to win the ACC regular-season championship. West Virginia, warming up for the Southern Conference tournament, defeated Penn. State 71-68 and George Washington 104-90, while William and Mary's bulky Jeff Cohen tuned up with 49 points as the Indians clobbered Richmond 105-84. The top three:
1. NORTH CAROLINA (19-4)
2. WEST VIRGINIA (22-3)
3. DUKE (20-5)
It was a nightmarish week for Kansas. The Jayhawks took an 81-63 drubbing from Kansas State and three nights later Nebraska upset them 69-68. To make matters worse, Kansas State rolled over Missouri 91-71 to take the Big Eight lead.
Ohio State moved two steps closer to the Big Ten title. The methodical Buckeyes, calmly shrugging off the boos of toilet-tissue-tossing Indiana rooters, put down the Hoosiers 73-69, then battered Wisconsin 97-74. But Iowa and Purdue were still alive. The Hawkeyes overcame Michigan 50-46 and Minnesota 61-43; Terry Dischinger poured in 52 points as Purdue beat Michigan State 85-74.
Cincinnati, after disposing of independent Houston 85-80, put away North Texas State 73-43 for its 16th straight. But the Bearcats (10-2) were warily eying Bradley (9-2). The Braves squeezed by Wichita 57-56 and Tulsa 64-62 and will tie Cincinnati if they beat St. Louis Saturday at Peoria. The top three:
1. OHIO STATE (22-0)
2. CINCINNATI (21-3)
3. BRADLEY (21-4)
Texas Tech was in command in the SWC. While SMU upset Texas A&M 65-61 and the Aggies, in turn, ran away from Texas 86-69, ambitious Tech buried Baylor under a second-half fusillade of shots and beat them 98-81. Then Tech overwhelmed TCU 101-75 to clinch a tie for the title. Border leader Arizona State (9-1) ended its schedule by beating Texas Western 89-86 and Arizona 94-75. But New Mexico State (6-1) can tie by winning its last three games. The top three:
1. TEXAS TECH (13-8)
2. ARKANSAS (15-6)
3. HOUSTON (15-9)
USC ventured up north and almost wished it hadn't after Oregon State lit into the unsuspecting Trojans and beat them 62-58. But next night, when a fussy 2-1-2 zone held Trojan John Rudometkin to one field goal in the second half, Chris Appel picked up the slack with 27 points and USC won 74-68. Then the Trojans got a helping hand in the Big Five race from California, which upset UCLA 66-65 for the Bruins' fourth loss.
The West Coast AC was more jumbled than ever. San Francisco, in contention a week earlier, was suddenly floundering. The Dons lost to Santa Clara, 51-45, and St. Mary's, 64-46, and now the Gaels were hot on the trail of Loyola.
Skyline teams were finding Utah's slick Billy McGill hard to pin down. Despite boxing defenses, McGill flipped in 66 points as the Utes whomped Brigham Young 95-80 and Utah State 96-84. The top three:
1. UTAH (19-5)
2. USC (17-5)
3. ST. MARY'S (18-5)