1. MICHIGAN (19-3)
2. WICHITA (20-5)
3. LOYOLA (19-5)
NCAA teams can take warning. Defending champion LOYOLA (see page 50), warming up for the tournament, was winning big. The quick Ramblers, running, gunning and swarming the boards, rubbed out St. Louis 79-66 and Marshall 117-63.
For a while it was touch and go for Big Ten co-leaders MICHIGAN and OHIO STATE. Illinois was hot on the Wolverines' heels until sophomore Cazzie Russell bailed them out with three deft steals, a timely layup and 28 points in all. Michigan won 89-83. Indiana's Tom Van Arsdale stuck to Ohio State's Gary Bradds like a long-lost brother and held him to 15 points. But Dick Ricketts and Don Devoe got away for 16 points apiece and OSU squeezed through 73-69.
Kansas State, however, was beginning to see daylight in the Big Eight. The Wildcats matched their fast break against Oklahoma's quick break and, with pop-shooter Willie Murrell firing in 23 points, K-State easily won the race 99-70. Second-place Colorado, outmuscled by MISSOURI 89-84, fell two games behind.
Drake's fairy-tale rise from the bottom to the top in the Missouri Valley was complete. The Bulldogs defeated Tulsa 72-63 and St. Louis 56-50 to clinch a tie for first. But WICHITA was still alive, too. The Shockers had trouble when Tulsa cracked their zone in the second half, but Dave Stallworth's 32 points helped them win 98-79. Too late, CINCINNATI was flexing its muscles. Big George Wilson, wheeling and dealing like never before, rattled in 25 points and the 'Cats upset Bradley 64-62. Then they beat North Texas 104-91.
The Mid-American race was down to its last game. OHIO U., an 88-79 winner over Louisville, must beat Toledo on Saturday to avoid a tie with Miami of Ohio.
THE TOP THREE:
1. TEXAS WESTERN (23-2)
2. TEXAS A&M (16-6)
3. TEXAS TECH (14-7)
There is just no place like home in the hurly-burly Southwest Conference. TEXAS A & M, beaten by Texas Tech at Lubbock earlier in the season, made the Raiders pay for that at College Station. With their exuberant cadets raising a frightful din, the Aggies turned Bennie Lennox loose for 21 points and drubbed Tech 82-70. Three nights later, when SMU's 2-1-2 zone defense tied up Lennox, skinny Bill Robinette shot over the Mustangs for 17 points and the Aggies won 75-70 to clinch a tie for the championship.