Once Upon A Time. . .NCAA Snubbed Rupp
lln '51 Selection Committee Overlooked 'Cats
Now that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has completed the agonizing process of selecting the 64 teams for the 1988 national championship, we harken back to 1951, when the two-time defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats finished 25-4, including a victory over No.l-ranked Bradley in the Sugar Bowl and a Southeastern Conference -_____-1
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tournament championship, and were not extended a bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats, NCAA champions in 1948 and 1949, had put on hold a bid to the 1951 National Invitational Tournament because they wanted to become the first team to win three consecutive NCAA titles. At the time, the NCAA selected as tournament participants a team from each of eight regions throughout the nation. Wildcat coach Adolph Rupp had suggested a playoff system to decide a national champion, but Harold Olsen is credited with the original idea of choosing a champion by establishing eight different regions, with each region having a team in the tournament.
Howard Hobson, who coached the University of Oregon to the first NCAA championship by defeating Olsen's Ohio State team, 46-33. in 1939, later said, "A committee selected the teams, but everyone knew that each region would have a representative. You always had a chance to play for that spot. You didn't have to hope for an invitation. If you were successful in your conference, you knew there would be at least a playoff for the spot."
That observation is important as we delve into the circumstances that kept the 1951 Wildcats out of the NCAA. Kentucky at the time was a member of District 3. which included teams in the Southeastern and Southern conferences. Members of the district's NCAA tournament selection committee at the time were chairman Gus Tebell of the University of Virginia, Eddie Cameron of Duke and Rupp, who was replaced temporarily by Roy Mundorff of Georgia Tech after Rupp resigned in order that the committee might consider Kentucky.
DURING THE FINAL WEEKEND OF THE SEASON, the Wildcats defeated Tennessee. 95-58, for the SEC crown while North Carolina State defeated Duke, 67-47, for
the championship of the Southern Conference. The Wildcats were 25-4, the Wolfpack 24-5.
Then came an announcement from Chicago that the District 3 selection committee had chosen N.C. State because Kentucky had declined to meet the Wolfpack in a playoff game to decide the district representative.
Rupp replied that his team had received no invitation to meet State in a playoff and that no one on the committee or from the NCAA had consulted him about a playoff. He pointed out that Tebell was a guest of the Southern Conference Tournament, and that the committee chairman also should have looked at UK if he planned to cast a ballot. Mundorff was solidly behind UK while Cameron remained loyal to the Southern Conference.
"What does a team have to do to receive a bid?" Rupp asked. "The sportswriters of America picked us as the superior team of the district. It is regrettable that some members of the committee apparently haven't been reading the papers. We defeated Bradley, the No. 1 team in the nation. We defeated Villanova on a neutral floor and Villanova defeated North Carolina State on State's home floor. We've lost one less game than State and we have played a much superior schedule."
"I would like very much to know on what basis the committee chose North Carolina State," he concluded, pointing out that the Wildcats should have merited more consideration from the viewpoint they also were defending champions of the NCAA.
Die Reaction: 7 would like very much to know on what basis the committee chose North Carolina State.'
Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp
The Reply: 'Let's just that we learned that Kentucky wasn't interested in a playoff and as far as I was concerned, that ended the matter. . .the best thing for me to do now is keep my mouth shut.'
Gus Tebell, chairman of selection committee
Tebell replied, "Let's just say that we learned that Kentucky wasn't interested in a playoff and as far as I was concerned, that ended the matter. . .the best thing for me to do now is keep my mouth shut." Meanwhile, N.C. State coach Everett Case had told the commit tee his team was "most willing" to meet Kentucky in a playoff. Although the die was cast, many Southern writers, who as a rule usually blasted Rupp
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Yeah Boy, (I Mean Girl) The SEC Is Tough!
Auburn, Tennessee Could Wind Up In Finals
Auburn and Tennessee, two Southeastern Conference teams, are atop the exciting and attractive world of women's basketball.
The Lady Tigers of coach Joe Ciampi and Lady Vols of coach Pat Head Summitt are rated one-two in the NCAA top 25 by USA Today's poll of coaches and women basketball
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writers from Connecticut to California.
Two other SEC teams, Ole Miss and Georgia, are highly rated also. The Lady Rebels of coach Van Chancellor are 11th and the Lady Bulldogs of Andy Landers are 16th. That's four SEC teams in the first 16.
The ACC has four beautifully skilled teams rated also, but hardly so high: Virginia (7th), Maryland (10th), Wake Forest (22nd) and Clemson (23rd).
THE PAC-10 HAS THREE TEAMS RANKED: Southern Cal 12th, Washington 13th and Stanford 14th. The Big Ten rates two teams: Iowa, No. 3, and Ohio State, No. 6. The Atlantic 10 has Rutgers No. 10, then St. Joseph's 25th and the PCAA has Long Beach STate No. 8 and UNLV No. 20. The SWC places just one, powerful Texas, at No. 4.
Five comparatively new conferences rate one team each in the current Top 25. The CAC (Colonial Athletic Conference) sends an appropriate member, James Madison at No. 15. The MWAC (Mountain Western Athletic Conference) places Montana at No. 17 and the HCAC (High Country Athletic Conference) offers New Mexico State as No. 18. From the galaxy, I assume, comes the Gulf Star team, Stephen Austin, No. 19, and the North Star's DePaul for No. 24.
In women's basketball conferences are being formed so swiftly that independents rate only two teams at, at this writing, Louisiana Tech, No. 5, and New Orleans, No. 21.
TENNESSEE IS THE DEFENDING NATIONAL CHAMPION. The Volunteers did not win the SEC tournament in 1987, but they ripped right through the NCAA.
They beat Long Beach State 74-64 in the semifinals, and then Louisiana Tech. which had turned back Texas 79-74, in the final game 67-44.
For that Final Four session, played at the University of Texas, 25.444 attended and millions watched on national television.
Auburn won the 1987 SEC tournament, defeating Tennessee in the process. Then the Vols beat the Tigers in the final eight of the NCAA, dropping them to No. 6 in the final USA Today poll.
For 1988, Auburn beat Tennessee during the regular season schedule. Then Tennessee returned the defeat in winning the SEC tourney. Which will prevail in the NCAA tournament?
As the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the NCAA, Auburn and Tennessee will be so seeded in the tournament. They will be placed in different regions and, with luck, will meet in the final game.
A double challenge for the SEC is on the horizon. If the Auburn and Tennessee lady basketballers are truly one-two in the nation, they will play in the Tacoma Dome in Washington on April 3 for the NCAA Championship.
This will be an historic SEC event for intercollegiate athletics. Don't miss it!