Despite Michigan's presence as the favorite, the NCAA tournament was full of hopeful challengers for the national championship (page 24). Defending champion UCLA, Oklahoma State and St. Joseph's were most likely to join the Wolverines in Portland, Ore. for the semifinals.
New York's NIT, meanwhile, had an impressive 14-team field for the tournament that begins Thursday in Madison Square Garden. If there was a favorite it was Villanova (21-4), seeded No. 1 ahead of New Mexico (19-7), but almost everybody else had a chance to win. The first-round pairings: Thursday—Texas Western (17-8) vs. Manhattan (12-8) and Boston College (21-6) vs. St. John's (17-8); Saturday—Western Kentucky (17-8) vs. Fordham (15-11), Army (18-7) vs. St. Louis (18-8), Detroit (19-7) vs. La Salle (15-7) and Bradley (18-8) vs. NYU (14-8).
The small colleges, too, were poised for championship tournaments. Thirty-two teams were in Kansas City for six days of play that will decide the NAIA title, while the NCAA college division, down to eight teams after regional playoffs, was ready for the showdown in Evansville, Ind. The survivors: Evansville (26-0), Philadelphia Textile (24-3), St. Michael's of Vermont (19-5), North Dakota (24-4), Akron (20-6), Southern Illinois (18-5), Washington of St. Louis (18-5) and Seattle Pacific (22-6).
THE TOP THREE:
1. ST. JOSEPH'S (25-1)
2. VILLANOVA (21-4)
3. PROVIDENCE (22-1)
It was like old times in New York's Madison Square Garden last week as 18,178 jammed the place to watch the city's Big Four in a doubleheader. FORDHAM, the hottest team in town, went at a slick passing and shooting Manhattan bunch with the same aggressive 2-3 zone defense that had brought it nine wins in its last 11 games, and that stopped the Jaspers. Len Zandy flipped in three points with 17 seconds to go to win for the Rams 67-65. ST. JOHN'S, eight points behind NYU with 13 minutes to play, got its lift from Kenny McIntyre. He poured in 24 points in the second half, six in a row at the end, and the Redmen won 70-66.
The East's other tournament teams were also busy sharpening their games, ST. JOSEPH'S beat St. Bonaventure 95-87; VILLANOVA routed Seton Hall 84-63 and then sneaked past Marquette 73-69; PROVIDENCE swamped Massachusetts 102-75 and Brown 90-65; PENN STATE completed its best season ever by defeating Rutgers 88-75; BOSTON COLLEGE outlasted Northeastern's slowdown 56-51 and then outran Holy Cross 111-89; CONNECTICUT rolled over Colgate 101-66 and Rhode Island 88-73 for its 15th straight; PRINCETON'S Ivy League champions beat Penn 81-71.