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Roy Terrell
February 20, 1956
News that a college all-star team would enter the Olympic basketball trials failed to slow the race for a place in THE TOURNAMENTS
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February 20, 1956

The Tournaments

News that a college all-star team would enter the Olympic basketball trials failed to slow the race for a place in THE TOURNAMENTS

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(Verdict of the Associated Press writers' poll) Team standings this week (first-place votes in parentheses):



1—San Francisco (83)


2—Dayton (8)


3—Illinois (9)


4—Louisville (11)


5—North Carolina State (4)




7—Kentucky (1)


8—Alabama (7)




10—North Carolina (3)


RUNNERS-UP: 11, Duke 168; 12, Southern Methodist (1) 136; 13, St. Francis (N.Y.) 121; 14, Oklahoma City (2) 109; 15, Iowa 83.

In the interest of Olympic supremacy, a little of the luster was rubbed off the nation's two big postseason tournaments last week. No longer, announced Dutch Lonborg of Kansas, chairman of the Olympic College Basketball Committee, will the National Collegiate and National Invitation tournaments send their champions to the Olympic trials. Instead, a 14-man all-star team will be selected from colleges all over the nation to challenge one service and two AAU teams for the trip to Melbourne in November.

But Melbourne is still a long way off and mid-February remains, in the world of college basketball, a time to worry about mid-March and the 37 spots in the brackets of the NCAA and the NIT. The NCAA has room for 25 teams—16 conference champions and nine "at-large" selections; the NIT is seeking to fill a field of 12.

At week's end, with a month still to go before tip-off time in either tournament, the picture was beginning to come into focus. The NIT had already lined up Dayton, Duquesne, Seton Hall, Marquette, Xavier of Cincinnati and St. Francis of Brooklyn. The NCAA could almost claim as its own such heavy conference favorites as San Francisco, UCLA and Southern Methodist. But that still left a lot of spots unfilled—who, for example, would grab off the double handful of coveted at-large bids; who would survive such sizzling conference races as the Atlantic Coast, Southeastern, Missouri Valley, Skyline and Big Ten?

Alabama mercilessly trounced Vanderbilt, unbeaten Southeastern Conference leader and the nation's third-ranked team 88-61, then beat Georgia to finish the week with a 7-0 record, a performance which left Alabama a slim lead over both Vandy and Kentucky, tied for second place at 8-1. But should Alabama win the title, it is almost certain to turn over its NCAA spot to the conference runner-up; all five ' Bama starters are playing their fourth varsity season and will be ineligible for NCAA postseason competition. Although neither the Atlantic Coast nor Southern conferences decide their champions until a postseason tournament, both were keeping in practice. In the former, probably the best-balanced league in the land, Duke, Wake Forest and North Carolina were all tied at 9-2; North Carolina State, with the best season record (18-2), was half a game back at 8-2. In the Southern Conference, West Virginia and George Washington continued their rivalry with identical 8-2 records. Louisville, a major southern independent which probably has its choice of either the NCAA or NIT, won No. 19 (against one loss) by beating Marquette 76-65.

Illinois tightened its grip on the Big Ten lead (7-0) in two dissimilar victories: a come-from-behind 92-89 win over Indiana, and a record-setting 111-64 breeze past Ohio State, in which Robin Freeman was stopped at his lowest point production (12) in two seasons. Iowa remained within striking distance with a 6-1 record. In the Missouri Valley, where St. Louis entered the week apparently a shoo-in for the championship, Houston came out of the week with a 7-2 record and the league lead. St. Louis lost to both Oklahoma A&M, now in third place at 3-2, and Houston to make its record 6-2. Iowa State moved closer to Kansas State in the Big Seven by winning once while the Wildcats were splitting two games. Kansas State now leads with a 6-2 record, Iowa State has 5-2 and Colorado 4-2. Among the independents, Dayton ran its record to 18-1 with two victories; Oklahoma City U. kept hustling toward a tournament invitation by knocking off Wichita, and Xavier beat Cincinnati 79-72 in overtime.

Far West
San Francisco bored its fans—and even its coach—by winning victories No. 43 and 44 in the string which goes back to 1954, and UCLA personally took care of a most dangerous opponent in the Pacific Coast race by defeating Stanford twice on consecutive nights. UCLA now leads with an 8-0 record; Southern California, which also won twice, is second at 8-2. The Skyline battle between Utah and Brigham Young was apparently going all the way down to the wire for a decision; in their first meeting of the year, the Utes won handily 82-63, deadlocked the race at 6-2 and set the stage for a Feb. 24 showdown.

Two weeks ago Arkansas tried to stop SMU with a zone defense and was riddled by Larry Showalter and the rest of the Methodists' hot outside shooters. Last week Texas tried to stop the unbeaten Southwest Conference leaders with a tight man-for-man, and big Jim Krebs shook loose under the basket for 50 points and a conference scoring record. The 109-96 victory left SMU with a 7-0 record; Rice, which beat Arkansas 86-65 at week's end, moved up into a second-place tie at 6-2.

Dartmouth, a favorite to win the Ivy League before the year began, has apparently waited too long. But the Indians were still having a lot of fun tearing up the records of others. They handed Columbia its first conference loss 71-70, then turned around and ended powerful Holy Cross's 11-game winning streak in a nonconference contest. Columbia, however, ended the week with its Ivy League lead still intact. The Lions (6-1) bounced back to beat Harvard 87-61 while weak Brown upset challenging Princeton 82-79 and dropped the Tigers back to 4-2. Temple ran its season record to 17-1 with three easy victories, and St. Francis of Brooklyn won its only start (84-77 over Bridgeport) to remain, with San Francisco, the only major unbeaten team in the nation.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]