Rutgers brought down the roof—and part of the ceiling—when it overhauled St. Bonaventure 85-80. Playing at home while paint flaked off the ceiling and onto the court, the Scarlet Knights had their backers roaring as they climaxed their first unbeaten regular season (26-0). Then it was on to the ECAC Metropolitan tournament, where they hurried past LIU 104-76. Next came the wrap-up contest against St. John's, with the winner to face Princeton in the first round of the NCAAs, the loser to take on Indiana. The Knights trailed by nine early on, spurted and won 70-67 as Hollis Copeland hit 11 of 14 shots and Phil Sellers drove in for three late baskets to also finish with 22 points.
Three other ECAC tournaments settled NCAA berths. A local columnist promised Massachusetts fans, who had complained about lack of press coverage in the Boston area, that if their team won at the New England regional, "the story won't be wedged in between the girdle ads and the overseas flight arrivals." But Connecticut jolted the Minutemen 73-69 and, with Joe Whelton and Al Weston teaming up for 44 points, upset Providence 87-73. Syracuse took the Upstate New York regional by trouncing Manhattan 83-57 and Niagara 77-68. Georgetown won the Southern regional, stopping Villanova 72-59 and George Washington 68-63.
"We wanted to give the people a show, do some dealin'," said VMI's Ron Carter but a Richmond stall held down the score, VMI winning 41-33 to take the Southern Conference tournament. Carter, though, had something to show people: his MVP trophy.
Rich Laurel's 53 points carried Hofstra to the East Coast Conference title as it beat Bucknell, Lafayette and Temple.
By stopping Cornell 73-58 and Columbia 46-44, Princeton concluded its Ivy League schedule with a 14-0 record.
1. RUTGERS (28-0)
2. N. CAROLINA (25-3)
The best bet in Las Vegas—UNLV to win—came through twice. The Rebels chopped down St. Mary's 124-86, Eddie Owens flicking in 33 points and Glen Gondrezick adding 22 more and grabbing 15 rebounds. Then, despite Marymount's slowdown, UNLV won 90-69, Owens finding the range for 29 points.
Trailing USC 62-58 with 8:07 to go, UCLA got six quick points from Richard Washington and pulled away to win 87-73. The Bruins had been guaranteed their 10th-straight league crown when Oregon settled the Pacific Eight race by nipping Oregon State 57-56. Ron Lee of the Ducks scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half, sinking the winning basket with 14 seconds remaining and then intercepting State's desperation court-length pass.