Misfortune has struck some of the perennial winners this year, to the delight of their long-suffering neighbors. Kentucky's crusty old Adolph Rupp, for one, is wallowing in the ruck of the Southeastern Conference after Florida beat his Wildcats for the first time in 31 years. Cincinnati's Ed Jucker, once described as a coach who never lost enough to know how, is learning. Missouri Valley rivals Louisville and Drake both beat his Bearcats last week, pushing them nearer last place. Meanwhile, teams like Michigan, Wichita State and Davidson, not too long ago nonentities in college basketball, are the new leaders.
THE TOP THREE:
1. PROVIDENCE (12-0)
2. ST. JOSEPH'S (15-1)
3. ST. JOHN'S (12-2)
Unbeaten PROVIDENCE'S Joe Mullaney does not waste time on theory—even his own. He knows his combination defense is not infallible so, when Seton Hall passed through and shot over it early in the game in Providence, he adjusted quickly. Mullaney substituted sophomore Ike Riordan for Jim Ahem in the backcourt and switched to man-to-man. Pretty soon Jimmy Walker, Jim Benedict and Bill Blair had Providence ahead 65-46. Then the Friars unaccountably began firing—and missing—from far out. Seton Hall took charge of the offensive boards, and Providence's lead dwindled to five points with two minutes to go. But the Friars held on to win 88-81. "They were too trigger-happy," complained Mullaney.
All week long ST. JOSEPH'S Jack Ramsay was saying that Penn beat his team the last three years because Quaker Coach Jack McCloskey kept throwing the best-coached Philadelphia team at him. So Saturday, before the usual sellout throng (9,220) in the Palestra, Ramsay's pressing defenses cut off Penn's run-and-shoot game, Tom Duff and Billy Oakes threw in 42 points, and St. Joe's took the Ivy Leaguers apart 88-72. And out came the inevitable Hawks' banner: OUR JACK'S BETTER THAN YOURS.
Two other members of Philadelphia's Big Five got an even split. Bill Melchionni, peppery little VILLANOVA guard, shot up Detroit for 35 points and the last two, a pair of free throws with four seconds to go, beat the Titans 82-80 in the Palestra. But Temple unexpectedly fell in New York, FORDHAM cracked Temple's 2-3 zone with a methodical in-and-out passing game that opened the middle for darting cuts by Ram players and then rattled the usually poised Owls with a harassing press that eventually beat them 57-51.
Little St. Francis of Brooklyn went at ST. JOHN'S with a slowdown and a tight zone and stopped the Redmen cold—for about 10 minutes or so. Then the McIntyre brothers broke it up. Ken, ball-stealing and hitting freely from outside, got 25 points; Bob, shooting from inside, got 21 and St. John's took its eighth in a row 75-61.
Penn State countered Pitt's ball-control game with a full-court press and, almost before the visitors knew it, they were running. State won easily 59-40, as Carver Clinton scored 25 points and slick playmaker Bob Weiss, 15. DUQUESNE'S chunky little Willie Somerset, in the doldrums lately, broke out with 42 points against DePaul, and the favored Blue Demons lost 73-69, for the first time in nine games, CANISIUS' Dennis Misko, a 6-foot-2 sophomore reserve, came off the bench to stop St. Bonaventure's George Carter cold and then fired in eight quick points to give the Griffs a 70-67 upset.