While most of the nation's major-college teams sadly contemplated their failures, a fortunate few looked forward to competing in postseason tournaments. The NCAA, with 11 new conference champions and five at-large teams already in the fold (see page 45), still had room for eight more. The NIT, too, was busy filling out its field. The New York tournament acquired Missouri Valley runner-up Bradley (21-5), hoped to get the Skyline also-ran ( Colorado State U. or Utah) and, after considerable soul-searching, announced that its last spot would be filled by Holy Cross (18-4).
Duquesne, hard-pressed for able bodies in a frustrating season, used only five of them to stop St. Bonaventure. The cocky Dukes gambled on giving 6-foot-9 Bob McCully shooting room underneath, double-teamed Tom Stith with burly Bob Slobodnik and Clyde Arnold and hoped for the best. It worked. While Captain Ned Twyman flipped in 31 points and rebounded superbly, Duquesne "held" Stith to 19 points, scrambled from behind to upset the shocked Bonnies 79-74 in overtime. At week's end weary St. Bonaventure pulled itself together to fight off Canisius 84-72; Duquesne beat Fordham 75-66.
St. John's defeated Yankee champion Rhode Island 86-74 and Manhattan 87-68; Georgetown surprised suddenly inept NYU 92-69; Holy Cross beat Providence 77-72; Princeton put down Dartmouth 68-54 and Harvard 71-59, tucked away the Ivy title. The top three:
1. ST. BONAVENTURE (22-3)
2. ST. JOHN'S (19-4)
3. ST. JOSEPHS (21-4)
George Washington, beaten 16 times and in the Southern Conference championship tournament try the bare skin of its teeth, suddenly turned on its most persistent tormentors. First, the Colonials upset Virginia Tech 84-83, then they turned back The Citadel 94-87. Meanwhile, favored West Virginia's zone press failed against William and Mary, and the Mountaineers were knocked out 88-76. In the final, little Jon Feldman peppered W&M for 45 points, outclassed the Indians' rugged Jeff Cohen, who scored 38, and George Washington won 93-82.
Wake Forest moved big Len Chappell outside to help riddle Duke's zone defense, sent him driving in when the Blue Devils switched to man to man, and the result was just perfect—for the Deacons. Chappell scored 33 points, and Wake Forest won the ACC tournament 96-81.
With Mississippi State's SEC champions out of the NCAA tournament, the honor will go to Kentucky or Vanderbilt, who play off a second-place tie Thursday at Knoxville. The top three:
1. NORTH CAROLINA (19-4)
2. WEST VIRGINIA (23-4)
3. DUKE (22-6)