The annual jousting between the NCAA and New York's NIT for participants in their postseason tournaments was resolved early. The NCAA snapped up independents Houston (25-0), St. Bonaventure (21-0), Marquette (20-3), New Mexico State (19-4), Florida State (18-6), St. John's (17-7), Boston College (15-7) and Loyola of Chicago (13-7). Two conference champions—Louisville (18-6) in the Missouri Valley and Bowling Green (17-5) in the Mid-American—were also in, and 13 more will get automatic bids.
The NIT, with 14 places to fill, took its time, operating on the theory that teams ought to play their way into the tournament. Only five teams were picked in the first week—Army (19-4), Oklahoma City (18-6), Fordham (15-7), Duquesne (17-4) and Notre Dame (16-8). The leading candidates were: independents LIU (20-0), St. Peter's (19-2), Holy Cross (15-6), Villanova (15-8), Dayton (15-9) and the best of the also-rans in the Missouri Valley (Bradley or Cincinnati), Mid-American ( Toledo or Marshall), Atlantic Coast, Southern, Big Eight, Middle Atlantic, Western AC, West Coast AC and, maybe, the Ivy League.
1. ST. BONAVENTURE (21-0)
2. COLUMBIA (19-3)
3. ARMY (19-4)
It was a week for fun and games in Allegany, N.Y. After undefeated St. Bonaventure beat Creighton 97-84, pranksters took down some of the 19 dummies—one for each victim—on the Bona hanging tree and burned them. Since Canisius was the next opponent, naturally its rooters were suspect. Canisius' players, however, were less resourceful. They lost to the Bonnies 79-62. Then came Niagara, with Calvin Murphy, who had rolled up 50 points as his team defeated Buffalo 99-82. St. Bonaventure prepared for a bombing, but Murphy turned feeder and scored only 24 points. Big Bob Lanier got 30, Billy Butler 29 and the Bonnies won their 21st game, 97-84.
Marquette Coach Al McGuire, an old St. John's player, was in rare fettle when his team played the Redmen. He matched wits defensively with St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca, prowled the sidelines nervously and even screamed at the official timer, an old Brooklyn school chum. But McGuire calmed down when substitute Blanton Simmons dropped in two long shots in the last 26 seconds to win for Marquette 57-56.
It was a good week for most tournament teams. Army, enjoying its best season in years, walloped Navy 66-44, Boston College smashed Seton Hall 99-65 and Syracuse 97-74, and Notre Dame earned its way into the NIT by beating NYU 70-67. Only Fordham lost, to Temple 80-70, but there was some consolation for Coach Johnny Bach. He was named to the coaching job at Penn State for next year.
Some other teams, meanwhile, were trying to impress NIT selectors. Unbeaten LIU defeated Bridgeport 68-52 and Connecticut 64-47, Holy Cross took Connecticut 86-85 and Providence 64-62, St. Peter's beat Stonehill 123-86 and Villanova edged Duquesne 77-76 and whipped La Salle 64-56.
Columbia, playing without ailing 7' Dave Newmark, was up to its ears in trouble against Yale. But Jim McMillian, who scored 32 points, ran off 13 straight in the second half and the Lions pulled through 67-61. They also had the Ivy lead to themselves when Dartmouth upset Princeton 62-60.