The jockeying between the NCAA and New York's NIT for independent teams for their postseason tournaments was over almost before it began. The NCAA got defending national champion Texas Western (19-5), Houston (21-3), Boston College (17-2), St. John's (20-3), Dayton (21-4), Virginia Tech (17-5), Seattle (17-6) and New Mexico State (14-10). Five conference champions—UCLA (23-0) in the Pacific Eight, Louisville (23-3) in the Missouri Valley, Western Kentucky (21-2) in the Ohio Valley, SMU (17-5) in the Southwest and Connecticut (16-5) in the Yankee—also qualified, and 10 more will get automatic bids.
The NIT, meanwhile, landed 10 attractive teams for its field of 14 independents: Southern Illinois (19-2), St. Peter's (18-3), Syracuse (19-4), Utah State (18-5), Providence (18-6), Rutgers (17-6), Marquette (17-8), Villanova (16-8) and the Missouri Valley's Tulsa (18-6) and Memphis State (17-8). Other candidates were independents DePaul (16-7), Holy Cross (15-8), Army (13-8) and the best of the also-rans in the Atlantic Coast (possibly Duke), Big Eight (Kansas, Nebraska or Colorado), MidAmerican (Marshall) and Western AC (New Mexico).
One disquieting note: 11 of the 21 NCAA and NIT teams were beaten last week after they accepted invitations.
March 6, 1967
1. BOSTON COLLEGE (17-2)
2. PRINCETON (22-2)
3. ST. JOHN'S (20-3)
Just about the only PRINCETON man who did not think the world had come to an end when the Tigers lost at Cornell was Coach Butch van Breda Kolff. He simply got ready for the rematch at Princeton last Saturday and said, "It should be fun." It really was, too, for Princeton. John Haarlow, playing with a grotesque face mask to protect a broken nose, and Joe Heiser scored 25 and 17 points, respectively, while the big rebounders—6'9" Chris Thomforde and Robby Brown and 6'7" Ed Hummer and Haarlow—overwhelmed Cornell on the boards. Princeton won easily 81-66, and all the Tigers needed was a victory over Penn on Wednesday to win the Ivy League title and a place in the NCAA East Regional.
Syracuse's Fred Lewis thought his fast break and free-lance press would stop patient ST. JOHN'S, and they almost did. The Orange had a seven-point lead with 10 minutes left. Then Sonny Dove got going. He slammed in three straight stuffs, went on to score 27 points and the Redmen won 71-64. Dove got 28 more as St. John's trimmed Miami of Florida 97-70, but Syracuse lost to CANISIUS 68-64 in Buffalo.
Boston College rolled over Boston U. 74-66 and Georgetown 103-91, but VILLANOVA surprised Providence 55-52. Jimmy Walker had the worst shooting night of his career—two for 20 and only five points. Walker's slump, happily, was only temporary. He spent 90 minutes shooting by himself in the gym and that night got 46 points as the Friars drubbed Rhode Island 99-73. Then Walker topped that with 47, and Providence beat Holy Cross 88-75. Villanova also trounced Memphis State 66-48 to earn an NIT bid, while ARMY, another hopeful, took Navy 64-54.
Temple, however, had its sights set on the NCAA tournament. The Owls licked Pitt 87-49 and NYU 77-61 and will compete with St. Joseph's, La Salle and American U. in the Middle Atlantic playoffs this weekend. ST. JOSEPH'S, in a preview, outscored American 94-68 and La Salle 96-83.
Connecticut's Wes Bialosuknia, the hottest shooter in the country these days, scored 42 as the Uconns whipped New Hampshire 114-75 to win the Yankee title, 40 more in an 84-77 win over Rutgers and 38 against Rhode Island. But RHODE ISLAND upset Connecticut 87-86. RUTGERS came back to take Lafayette 59-40 and NYU, going nowhere, lost to NOTRE DAME 79-66.
1. LOUISVILLE (23-3)
2. KANSAS (19-3)
3. TOLEDO (21-1)
Winning the Missouri Valley title was easy for LOUISVILLE. The Cards merely turned Westley Unseld and Jerry King loose for 20 points apiece, and Drake succumbed 86-63. But the champs relaxed against WICHITA STATE. The Shockers, who had lost to CINCINNATI 92-63 without seven players who were suspended for missing a bed check, had them all back and rested for Louisville. Unseld got away for 24 points, but Wichita's Melvin Reed matched that and the Shockers won 84-78. Second-place TULSA also had tough going. The Hurricanes barely held off' Bradley 65-62 and St. Louis 60-59.
Toledo's wunderkind had a share of the Mid-American championship tucked away after beating Western Michigan 83-71 and Miami of Ohio 68-66, but MARSHALL can still tie the Rockets. The Thundering Herd kept pace by defeating Miami 77-62 and Western Michigan 68-67. KANSAS hammered Oklahome State 60-50 and Missouri 90-55 to hold the Big Eight lead, 1½ games ahead of NEBRASKA, a 79-71 winner over Kansas State, and the two teams meet Saturday.
The way things were going in the Big Ten, five teams still had a chance to win. INDIANA was a nervous leader after Iowa, beaten by MINNESOTA 88-86, turned around and edged the Hoosiers 75-74. That put the Hawkeyes in a four-way tie for second with Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan State, when Wisconsin upset Northwestern 110-94 and Michigan State 68-64.
1. HOUSTON (21-3)
2. TEXAS WESTERN (19-5)
3. SMU (17-5)
All season long SMU had been coming back from the dead. The Mustangs had won seven games by three points or less, most of them in the very last minute. Last Saturday Rice led SMU 84-83 with five seconds to go, but little Denny Holman plopped in two free throws and the Mustangs survived another pressure cooker 85-84. That, along with TCU's 83-78 loss to ARKANSAS and Texas' earlier 88-78 defeat by TEXAS TECH, clinched the SWC title for SMU. "I don't know how they do it," marveled happy Coach Doc Hayes. "If I knew I'd write me a book."
Texas Western, although not exactly overjoyed at the prospect of having to defend its national championship in the Far West Regionals—that is where UCLA will play—instead of in the Midwest, where it won last year, was getting ready anyway. Even without Daddy D Lattin, who was benched for "disciplinary reasons," the Miners beat Utah State 79-75 in Logan when Willie Cager got nine points in the second overtime period. Then TW squashed West Texas State 97-67. HOUSTON'S Elvin Hayes sharpened up his game, too. He scored 29 points as the Cougars trounced West Texas 120-76 and 29 more in an 87-73 drubbing of Creighton. Hayes now has 1,478 points for an alltime Houston record.
1. NORTH CAROLINA (20-3)
2. WESTERN KENTUCKY (21-2)
3. TENNESSEE (18-4)
When WESTERN KENTUCKY overtook Eastern Kentucky 71-62 in Richmond to win the Ohio Valley championship (page 24) it set off the wildest celebration ever back in Bowling Green, Some 4,000 students, screaming the inevitable "We're No. 1," swarmed downtown and staged an impromptu parade. But then MURRAY STATE caught the Hilltoppers with the shooting shorts. While they dawdled, Murray's Herb McPherson threw in 25 points, and Western's 21-game winning streak ended 75-69.
North Carolina, warming up for an ACC showdown with DUKE Saturday in Chapel Hill, squeezed past cautious Maryland 79-78, but the Tar Heels looked a lot better against Virginia Tech. They played the Gobblers' game, running with them, and Larry Miller, Bob Lewis and Rusty Clark shot Tech out of sight 110-78. Duke also won twice, over Wake Forest 97-84 and Notre Dame 77-65. CLEMSON, out of the race but a real threat to both Carolina and Duke in the conference tournament, took Maryland 65-61 for its seventh straight.
Tennessee was almost home in the SEC. The disciplined Vols, attacking with deliberate proficiency, beat Auburn 54-45. VANDERBILT and FLORIDA were still hopeful, though. Vandy bombed Alabama 117-80, with Bo Wyenandt scoring 42 points, and then outran Georgia's slowdown 81-61. Florida took old rival Florida State 90-75 and Mississippi State 59-54. But there was only misery for Kentucky's Adolph Rupp. His Wildcats lost their 11th game, to ALABAMA 81-71, giving the Baron his worst season in 37 years at Kentucky.
West Virginia, the Southern Conference winner, tuned up for next weekend's league tournament by clobbering George Washington 127-97.
1. UCLA (23-0)
2. PACIFIC (19-3)
3. UTAH STATE (18-5)
Lew Alcindor continued to make the news. He played well enough in a 71-43 victory over Washington, shrugging off a migraine headache to score 37 points, but he was superb against Washington State. He drove, hooked, jumped and stuffed for 61 points as the Bruins won 100-78. And now there was something new for UCLA's opponents to worry about—a zone defense to go along with the Uclans' devastating press. "You'll be seeing this from now on," said Coach Johnny Wooden, "because Lew has improved so much in protecting the basket."
Pacific's husky Keith Swagerty had a splendid week, too (page 24). While the Tigers routed Loyola of Los Angeles 89-70 and Pepperdine 94-67 to earn a tie for the West Coast AC title, Swagerty grabbed 58 rebounds and piled up 54 points to break Bill Russell's league scoring record.
Suddenly NEW MEXICO and WYOMING were turning the Western AC upside down. First the Lobos whipped Brigham Young 97-95 in Albuquerque. Then Wyoming, after a 52-49 win over Utah, beat BYU 67-56 in Laramie to take the WAC lead away from the Cougars. Two NCAA-bound independents also had their troubles. Utah State lost to COLORADO STATE 80-75 while New Mexico State fell to HARDIN-SIMMONS 87-77 and EASTERN NEW MEXICO 46-43.