BASEBALL—The exhibition season dwindled into obscurity as major leagues got ready for opening day. As far as Las Vegas books were concerned, New York and Milwaukee were still teams to beat. Yankees were quoted at 1-3 in American League; Braves at 3-5 in National League.
HOCKEY—Almost as certain as death and taxes, Montreal power-played way into Stanley Cup finals for ninth straight year. Hepped-up Chicago gave Canadiens temporary pause by winning 3-1 to even semifinals at two-all, but hottest sticks in hockey prevailed and Montreal won next two 4-2, 5-4, sat hack to wait for winner of Toronto-Boston series and shot at fourth consecutive cup. Toronto, after squirming past Bruins 3-2. 4-1, couldn't keep it up and Boston won 5-4 to make seventh game necessary.
SWIMMING—Reversing Horace Greeley's advice, USC came out of West to conquer nation's best in AAU championships at New Haven. Led by transplanted Aussie Freestyler Murray Rose (see below), who sent meet records flying with triple at 1,500 meters (18:18.4), 220 yards (2:02.2) and 440 yards (4:18.8), Trojans won five titles, piled up 62 points to thrash runner-up New Haven Swim Club.
BASKETBALL—Taking no chances on another Chile debacle (SI, Feb. 9), U.S. gathered together its best amateurs at Louisville, set them against each other in round-robin trials to determine squad for Pan-American Games. Pickup team of College All-Stars proved to be best, beating Bartlesville, Okla. 89-83, Armed Forces 93-77, Wichita's AAU champions 88-80 and providing seven players ( Cincinnati's Oscar Robertson, Kansas State's Bob Boozer, West Virginia's Jerry West, Michigan State's Johnny Green, Louisville's Don Goldstein, Marshall's Leo Byrd and UCLA's Walt Torrence) for 14-man squad which will be coached by West Virginia's Freddy Schaus. Others picked: Wichita's Dick Boushka, Dan Swartz; Bartlesville's George BonSalle, Burdie Haldorson, Bill Evans; Armed Forces' Jack Adams, Bob Jeangerard.
Boston locked door on Syracuse 130-125 to win Eastern playoffs and moved against Minneapolis in bid for NBA title. Celtics twice fought off Elgin Baylor and his challenging Lakers to take first game 118-115, then found way to defense Baylor, holding him to mere 13 points while winning second game 128-108. Lakers, beaten 20 straight by Boston, hoped for best as they headed for home and next two games.