The postseason tournament picture was beginning to take shape. The NCAA, patiently waiting for conference races to be decided, picked up Mid-Atlantic champion St. Joseph's (20-4) and seemed almost certain to get Ohio State (Big Ten), Kansas State (Big Eight), Texas Tech (Southwest), Princeton (Ivy) and Rhode Island (Yankee). But the situation was still unsettled in the Atlantic Coast and Southern (where championship tournaments begin Thursday), Southeastern, Ohio Valley, Missouri Valley, Skyline, Big Five, West Coast and Border conferences. Meanwhile the NIT, with a spot reserved for the Missouri Valley runner-up (Bradley or Cincinnati), filled two of its four remaining berths with Temple (18-5) and Niagara (15-4), which caught St. Bonaventure with its usually dependable defenses lagging and upset the Bonnies 87-77 at, of all places, Olean (see page 24). Other NIT possibilities: Tennessee State (24-4); St. Louis (17-7); NYU (11-9); Skyline runner-up (Colorado State U. or Utah).
New York basketball, once so dominating but lately a pushover for visitors, lifted its head again last week in Madison Square Garden. St. John's broke down Marquette's fast break with some robust rebounding by 6-foot-9 Leroy Ellis, and Tony Jackson (who between them also scored 54 points) and whipped the helter-skelter Hilltoppers 85-69. NYU, for once playing the pure, glue-tight defense that Coach Lou Rossini admires, stopped Wake Forest's outside shooters, outsmarted and outmaneuvered the bigger Deacons under the boards and upset them 70-61. However, a New Yorker who got away drew the most cheers. Duke's hustling Art Heyman (from Long Island) fired in 36 points and led the Blue Devils past inefficient Seton Hall 112-78.
Princeton, only a game away from the Ivy crown after beating surprisingly difficult Harvard 80-73, lost to Dartmouth 73-69; Navy rallied to beat Army 61-55. The top three:
1. ST. BONAVENTURE (21-2)
2. ST. JOHN'S (17-4)
3. ST. JOSEPH'S (20-4)
The SEC, mired in mediocrity, was fumbling to a conclusion, and there was a faint suspicion that Kentucky's Adolph Rupp may yet have the last laugh—and an NCAA bid. With first-place Mississippi State prepared to withdraw because of its refusal to play against Negroes, the invitation will go to the runner-up. And it could be Rupp's Wildcats, who bustled into a three-way tie for second (with Vanderbilt and Florida) after nudging aside Vandy 60-59 on Ned Jennings' basket and trouncing Alabama 80-53. Vanderbilt recovered to beat Florida 77-60, thereby creating the triple deadlock.
North Carolina, using a "California-style" man-to-man "to keep Duke running," beat the Blue Devils 69-66 on York Larese's backhand flip and Yogi Peteet's foul shot in overtime to win the ACC regular-season championship. West Virginia, warming up for the Southern Conference tournament, defeated Penn. State 71-68 and George Washington 104-90, while William and Mary's bulky Jeff Cohen tuned up with 49 points as the Indians clobbered Richmond 105-84. The top three:
1. NORTH CAROLINA (19-4)
2. WEST VIRGINIA (22-3)
3. DUKE (20-5)