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No sooner had Indiana cooled Iowa 80-64 than Hoosier Coach Bobby Knight was at the podium trying to shore up sagging Hawk-eye morale. "This wasn't as much a runaway as it looked," he said. "Heck, they were tied with us a couple of times. This is a rugged team, but it has some guys hurting. Maybe next week they will be healthy and hopefully will give somebody trouble."
The "somebody" is Minnesota (10-2 in the Big Ten), which plays both Iowa (4-8) and Northwestern (1-11) this week. If Indiana (10-3), which closes out against Purdue at home Saturday, is to have any shot at the league title, Minnesota must lose at least once. "Right now the odds are against us," said Knight. "But it's a tough conference. Anything can happen."
If anything does, one of the most surprised people will be Purdue Coach Fred Schaus, whose team, averaging 191 pounds, lost to Minnesota (212 a man) 79-66. "They are as physical as any college team I've ever seen," he said. "If Minnesota wins our league, it will have an excellent chance in the NCAA tournament. It boards better than UCLA." "We'll be tough," said Minnesota Coach Bill Musselman.
After the Spartans downed Northwestern 86-72, Michigan State Coach Gus Ganakas hit back at critics who questioned his using his son Gary, a 5'5" guard. "One professor wrote to the newspaper calling it the greatest scandal in the history of MSU," Ganakas said. "Then he demanded a new offense with Mike Robinson as playmaker. The way Mike shoots, and this guy wants him passing." The Big Ten scoring leader, Robinson had 40 against Northwestern.
For the slip of a tongue, a game was lost. With the score tied in the closing seconds, John Hodak, a Toledo guard, called an official a mildly bad name. The official responded with a harsher sentence, a technical. Greg Boyd sank the shot and DePaul went on to win 67-65. "Hodak said it to the wrong ref," said DePaul Coach Ray Meyer. "He should have said it to the other one and we all would have agreed."
For an hour last week, Stanford was as big as anybody in the Pacific Eight. Friday night the Cardinals upset USC 50-47, and then 24 hours later went into a disciplined offense that had UCLA down 25-18 at halftime. But the slowdown finally stalled. Unruffled by the crawling action, UCLA patiently chipped away until it had built a 34-31 advantage, ripped off a 12-4 blitz and won 51-45 to run its victory streak to 70.
After losing to Stanford, USC came back to down California 64-53, and in defiance of tradition USC Coach Bob Boyd said, "If there's going to be a team chosen from the Pacific Eight to participate in the NIT, I think we have a chance." Never before has any league team but the champion gone to a postseason basketball tournament.