While Duke rested, its ACC neighbors jockeyed unconvincingly for position in the standings. First CLEMSON edged Wake Forest 71-70 to take second behind the Blue Devils. But NORTH CAROLINA STATE hit Clemson with an irritating press, and the Tigers went down 76-58.
West Virginia's Bucky Waters is the first to admit that there is no place like home. His young Mountaineers overtook St. John's 73-72 at Morgantown on Bill Ryczaj's foul shot with four seconds to go, then they got even with Davidson at nearby Charleston. Despite 30 points by Davidson's talented Dick Snyder, the Mountaineers won 74-65 as sophomore Ron Williams scored 24. West Virginia was just as tough away from home, too. It clobbered George Washington 90-79. Virginia Tech had a discouraging week. The Gobblers were upset by RICHMOND 82-81, and VIRGINIA 79-65.
1. KANSAS (15-3)
2. LOYOLA OF CHICAGO (16-1)
3. MICHIGAN (12-5)
They don't call the Missouri Valley the Valley of Death for nothing. Last week most visiting teams were trapped in bloody ambush. At various times Tulsa, Drake and Wichita State were in first place, and then they went on the road. Tulsa got it first, from DRAKE 60-55 in Des Moines. Then it was Drake's turn. Playing without academic-casualty Bob Netolicky, the Bulldogs were caught up in WICHITA STATE'S tough man-to-man press and fast break and lost 96-91. Two nights later ST. LOUIS' Gene Moore, a 6-foot-7 supersophomore, scored 20 points, picked off 22 rebounds, blocked eight shots and down went Wichita 101-78. Cincinnati died in Peoria, losing to BRADLEY 67-56. Cincy had better luck against Louisville back home. John Howard's jumper with three seconds to go beat the Cards 56-54. Drake finally broke the spell, beating North Texas 67-55 at Denton.
So, at week's end, Bradley, Cincinnati and Drake were tied for the lead, and the ultimate MVC winner was anybody's guess. The way Drake's Maurice John sees it, "You have to figure that whoever is ahead and playing at home on the final night will win." That could be St. Louis or Tulsa. Both finish at home on March 5.
"We're always the heavy," muttered Michigan's Dave Strack last week. "We're the one they're always up to beat." ILLINOIS was up, all right, and stunned the Wolves 99-93 at Ann Arbor, as squirmy Don Freeman and sophomore Rich Jones shot in 64 points. That put the Illini into top contention, along with Michigan and MICHIGAN STATE, an easy 79-65 winner over Wisconsin. Each has only one loss. It also started Illinois' Harry Combes counting his winnings, perhaps prematurely. "We're in," he predicted, "if we can win at home."
Combes must have had some second thoughts later in the week. Ohio State led the Illini by 11 points early in the second half at Champaign, and Combes's face was as red as his socks. Illinois finally squeezed through 78-77. MICHIGAN, meanwhile, came back to beat Indiana 93-76.
Nebraska, the Big Eight leader, barely made it past Oklahoma State 45-41 in overtime, while KANSAS beat Missouri 77-54 and KANSAS STATE took Oklahoma 84-73. Miami of Ohio fell for the first time in the Mid-American, losing to BOWLING GREEN 74-62.
Loyola of Chicago lost outside shooter Alan Miller on grades and then almost lost to Marquette. Corky Bell's rebound shot at the buzzer saved the Ramblers 85-84.