Ohio State was at the bottom of the Big Ten and Coach Fred Taylor was philosophizing. "You have to live on both sides of the street in this business whether you like it or not," he said. "Right now, it's like Rod McKuen says, 'You got to remember the good times.' " Taylor had a taste of the good times at the end of the week when his Buckeyes got five clutch free throws in the closing minutes from Larry Bolden to upset Indiana 85-79. The loss dropped the Hoosiers, who had beaten Michigan State 91-85 earlier in the week, into a first-place tie with Michigan. On the strength of Campy Russell's 64 points, the Wolverines downed Wisconsin 78-74 and Minnesota 79-56.
For the seventh straight year Marquette had an invitation to the NCAA tournament, but the Warriors' play was not up to their billing. Only a 27-point performance by Maurice Lucas, who hit 12 of 17 shots from the field, saved them from an embarrassing loss to Toledo, and Coach Al McGuire saw no reason to rejoice over his team's 61-58 win. "We're still having trouble with our cohesiveness," McGuire moaned. "The kids aren't selfish, but all the talent seems to be individual talent. I think we stunk." Imagine what he thought after Cincinnati's Bearcats drubbed his Warriors 92-77. But McGuire wasn't entertaining any notions of turning down the tournament bid, as he did four years ago. To play in the NCAA, he said, "We'd go to East Taiwan with clipclops on." Marquette will meet Ohio University, which wrapped up the Mid-American Conference by beating Bowling Green 71-70.
With an NCAA at-large bid at stake, Oral Roberts overcame Southern Illinois' 52% shooting with overwhelming rebounding plus 68 points from Sam McCants, Al Boswell and Greg McDougald to win 102-88. Awarded a spot in the Midwest regionals, the Titans subsequently disposed of Oklahoma City 103-84. Fly Williams' 38 points paced Austin Peay to a 91-66 win over Ohio Valley co-leader Middle Tennessee State. The Governors will play Notre Dame in the Mideast regional. The Irish, in the meantime, won easily over Ball State 93-69 and then Villanova 115-85. Dayton, which also received an at-large bid and will play in the West regional, beat Miami of Ohio 79-74 and Northern Michigan 73-59.
Both Kansas and Kansas State, vying for the Big Eight title, ran into trouble with Nebraska. The Cornhuskers used a tenacious defense to limit the Jayhawks to 19 first-half points and less than 37% field-goal accuracy for the evening. Kansas also missed 13 of 18 free throws but, by employing both its big pivotmen—Danny Knight and Rick Suttle—at the same time, gained control of the backboards and eked out a 51-46 win. Fortunately for the Jayhawks, Nebraska shot only 33.3%. Kansas State was less fortunate. Cornhuskers Jerry Fort, Ricky Marsh and Tom Novak fired in 44 points over the Wildcat zone as Nebraska triumphed 58-54. Kansas then edged Colorado 70-68 on a 23-foot jump shot by Norm Cook with 28 seconds left. The Jayhawks can clinch the Big Eight by beating the Wildcats at home on March 6.
1. NOTRE DAME (24-1)
2. MARQUETTE (22-4)
Pennsylvania won a fifth consecutive Ivy League title and ensured a fifth straight 20-victory season when it downed Columbia 90-65. The Quakers jumped out to a 14-2 lead and poured in 53 second-half points to end Brown's and Princeton's hopes of tying for the title. Penn then polished off Cornell 84-68.
The Quakers will play Providence in the NCAA East regional. The Friars upped their record to 25-3 by handling St. John's easily, 85-67. Providence used fast-break basketball and shot 62% to put the game quickly out of reach. Earlier in the week Providence had blistered Canisius 97-69 while St. John's had downed Holy Cross 98-72. St. John's decision to play in the NIT might have helped open the door for Syracuse, which beat Colgate 64-57 and accepted an NCAA bid.
St. Joseph's surprised La Salle 76-71 in the Middle Atlantic Conference finals and will meet Pittsburgh, which ended the week with an 83-78 win over West Virginia, in the East regional. To reach the finals St. Joe's had to survive a double overtime scare with Lafayette. The Hawks blew an early 14-point lead but finally prevailed 64-61 when they converted five free throws in the final 1:08. "It's about time we won one of these," said Guard Jim O'Brien, recalling three overtime losses the Hawks suffered in one four-game span in February. St. Joe's was apprehensive because Guard Mike Moody had bruised a rib in a pileup and missed the overtime periods. But he returned the next night against La Salle, played all 40 minutes, scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. "We don't win without him," said Coach Jack McKinney. "He keeps coming up with the big play."
1. PROVIDENCE (25-3)
2. PITTSBURGH (23-3)
South Carolina's Game-cocks recorded their sixth straight 20-win season when they pounded 11th-ranked Pitt 67-50. Coach Frank McGuire recorded his 450th collegiate victory and team Captain Brian Winters became a 1,000-point man with his game-high 23. The NCAA-bound Gamecocks were equally impressive in punishing Houston 104-86.
North Carolina State clinched first place in the ACC by beating North Carolina 83-72. Coach Norm Sloan gave out his first game ball ever, to 7'4" Center Tom Burleson, who rallied from a lackadaisical first half to contribute 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots after intermission, sparking a 17-2 spurt that put the game out of reach. The Wolfpack also scored a 72-63 win over Wake Forest, which had lost to Maryland earlier in the week 77-68. In that game, Terrapin Len Elmore set a school record with 26 rebounds. Later, Maryland crushed Virginia 110-75 to clinch a tie for second in the ACC with the Tar Heels, who barely survived Duke, 96-92 in overtime.
Furman won the Southern Conference's Russian roulette postseason tournament for the second straight time, beating Richmond 62-60 in the finals. Two free throws in the last 18 seconds by 5'10" Ed Kelley, who hit five of six shots from the floor in scoring 14 points, proved the margin of victory.
Jeff Fosnes scored 24 points and sank two free throws with 41 seconds left to lead Vanderbilt to a 71-69 win over Kentucky. That win, coupled with Alabama's 64-61 upset by Florida, gave the Commodores the SEC's NCAA tournament berth. Alabama could still tie for the title but would not represent the conference because it lost twice to Vandy during the regular season. The Commodores beat Mississippi 84-68 earlier in the week, converting 20 of 23 foul shots while Ole Miss never shot a free throw.
1. N.C. STATE (24-1)
2. MARYLAND (21-4)
Never mind their 12-14 record and the fact that they won only one of their 12 preconference games. Texas is the SWC champion. The Longhorns won the title on the last day of conference play when they beat Baylor 95-84 and co-leader Texas Tech lost to SMU 78-72. Baylor tried to shut off Texas' high-scoring Larry Robinson by using a defense that had four men playing zone and the fifth guarding the Longhorn ace. But Robinson took advantage of the tactic to open the doors for teammates. He was held to 20 points, but Dan Krueger got 26 and Harry Larrabee 22. Earlier in the week Texas had beaten Arkansas convincingly, 99-82.
New Mexico took the Western Athletic Conference when it thumped Texas-El Paso 67-55 at home and co-leader Arizona fell before Arizona State 108-95. The Sun Devils held Bob (Big Bird) Elliott, who had scored 38 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in the Wildcats' earlier 98-90 win over Arizona State, to just five points and five rebounds. State outrebounded the Wildcats 55 to 31.
New Mexico will play the winner of the Big Sky in the West regional. Idaho State and Montana ended the regular season with identical 19-7 overall and 11-3 conference records. Both qualified for a playoff March 5 at Montana when the Grizzlies downed Montana State 95-86 for their 13th straight win and Idaho State beat Boise State 86-66.
San Francisco led Seattle by one game in the WCAC and another playoff seemed likely when the Dons trailed St. Mary's 37-25. But Guard Phil Smith scored 27 of his career-high 34 points in the final 22 minutes and San Francisco captured the tournament spot with an 80-70 win. Cal State-Los Angeles edged past Santa Barbara 93-87 and won the right to represent the Pacific Coast Athletic Association in the NCAAs in place of grounded Long Beach State. The Forty-Niners, meanwhile, fattened their record at the expense of PCAA rivals, pounding San Jose State 84-60 and Pacific 76-52.
UCLA and USC will decide the Pac-8 on March 9 but both were lucky to survive trips to the Bay Area. The Trojans almost blew a 10-point second-half lead but hung on to beat Stanford 62-59. The next day California, playing four freshmen during one stretch, came from 13 points down to lead USC 67-66 with 12 seconds left. When Trojan Dan Anderson hit a jumper, Cal called an illegal time-out, giving Anderson a technical free throw. Cal then had to foul and USC's Gus Williams converted for a 70-67 win. UCLA had little trouble with the Golden Bears, getting 18 straight points in the first half en route to an 83-60 win. But Stanford's Tim Patterson, who had not scored against USC, poured in 26 against the Bruins the next night and UCLA just made it, 62-60.
1. UCLA (22-3)
2. LONG BEACH ST. (23-2)