By Saturday night, nine conference champions had qualified for berths in the NCAA 25-team field: Davidson (25-2), Miami of Ohio (14-10), Princeton (19-6), Purdue (18-4), Santa Clara (24-1), St. Joseph's (17-10), Texas A&M (17-6), Weber State (24-2) and UCLA (24-0), which will go after an unprecedented third straight title. Six other conference titles were yet to be decided, but 10 independents were selected: Colorado State (15-6), Dayton (20-6), Duquesne (19-3), Marquette (21-4), New Mexico State (23-3), Notre Dame (20-5), Trinity of Texas (19-4), Seattle (19-7), St. John's (22-4) and Villanova (21-4). The NIT, with 16 places to fill, had chosen Boston College (20-3), Rutgers (19-3), Southern Illinois (16-7), Temple (18-8) and West Texas State (18-7),
1. UCLA (24-0)
2. SANTA CLARA (24-1)
3. WEBER STATE (24-2)
A new electric sign at New Mexico repeatedly flashed WE ARE ON OUR WAY TO THE NIT, but the Lobos will not be going anywhere now. They squandered a 44-32 halftime lead against Brigham Young, committed 33 turnovers and lost in overtime 77-71. Wyoming—which first beat Utah 84-62, then downed BYU 79-69 to force a playoff with the Cougars for the Western AC title—may at least reach New York.
On-again off-again California gave UCLA its biggest scare of the season before losing in overtime 84-77. Cal was ahead by 12 points with 14:09 to go, but by 8:45 had dissipated its lead. Steve Patterson opened the overtime with a three-point play for UCLA, which went on to pick up its 40th straight win. What had kept the Golden Bears in contention was the fine play of Bob Presley, Jackie Ridgle and Charlie Johnson. Presley limited Lew Alcindor to 17 points, while Ridgle drove through for 28 points and Johnson hit from long range for 25.
Weber State (page 58) finished on top of the Big Sky, Santa Clara took the West Coast AC title and Texas A & M won the Southeast Conference championship. Dennis Awtrey had 54 points as the Broncos beat Pepperdine 62-52 and Loyola 89-66. The Aggies, who had six one-point wins in the SWC, won easily this time, beating Arkansas 79-66 and SMU 119-98.
Texas-El Paso upset Seattle 88-82 and Colorado State 78-58. State also lost to West Texas State 74-66.
1. LA SALLE (23-1)
2. DUQUESNE (19-3)
3. ST. JOHN'S (22-4)