KJís BB Newsletter                March 12, 2001

CONFERENCE TOURNEYS

Boy, Iowa State and KU sure bombed out at the Big 12 tournament.  Sometimes you just have those days where no matter what you do things just donít work out.  The Clones got behind Baylor early and simply couldnít get out of the hole.  KU looked pretty good, but the ball just seemed to bounce into Sooner hands at every opportunity.  The losses cost them both.  Iowa State missed out on being in the Midwest, and KU dropped at least one, if not two, seeds.

How about those Hawkeyes, though?  The stars were right for them, coupled with the fact that they finally got their act together.  It sure was fun watching them take apart Penn State and the Indiana game was as exciting as they get.  The tourney restored Alfordís reputation, which had become a little sullied in recent weeks.

BIG DANCE SCHEDULES

Number 2 seed Iowa State is scheduled to play Hampton on Thursday, March 15 at about 9:00pm CST.  The game will be played at the BSU Pavilion in Boise, Idaho.  If they win, theyíll play the winner of the Arkansas-Georgetown game on Saturday, 3/17 at about 6:00pm.

Number 4 seed Kansas plays Cal-Northridge on Friday at 6:40pm CST at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, OH.  If they win, theyíll take on the winner of the Syracuse-Hawaii game on Sunday at 12:10pm.

Iowa, a number 7 seed, will meet Creighton on Thursday afternoon about 1:50pm CST.  They square off in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY.  If they win, they will take on the winner of the Kentucky-Holy Cross match at about 7:00pm Saturday evening.

NCAA TOURNEY PROPOSAL

Hereís something you wonít hear on most other basketball sitesÖ.my annual plea to go back to a 48-team field for the NCAA Tournament

It used to be that way, you know.  From the beginning of the national tournament in 1939 through 1950, only 8 teams were invited. Then in 1951 and 1952, the size doubled to 16.  From 1953 through 1974 the number of teams varied from 22 to 25 teams.  Interestingly, and appropriately as far as Iím concerned, teams from 1939 through 1974 were selected and played in their own geographical regions.

In 1975 the teams expanded to 32 and stayed that way through 1978.  In 1979 the tourney had 40 teams.  From 1980 to 1984, the NCAAs invited 48 teams, before going to the now too large field of 64 in 1985.

Why 64 teams?  Itís money folks.  More games.  Also it appeases the small schools in the NCAA, each of which have a vote that counts just as much as a UCLA or Michigan State.  Talent-wise, many of the teams have no real business being there. 

Why 48 teams?  Mainly, because it would include only those teams that have a legitimate shot at the title and would allow the deserving top 16 teams to get a bye.  A 48-team bracket includes four 12-team brackets.  Within each bracket, four teams get byes, and play the winners of games between the other eight.  In other words, the 5-12 seeds must play the first round, while the top four seeds get byes.  Another way to look at it is, the top teams donít have to go through the motions of playing the lowly fodder.  Who really wants to watch Duke thrash Monmouth?   And why should Duke have to beat up on a patsy? And better yet, why is a Monmouth even included as a contender for the national championship?

I say let the small schools have their own tournament.  Why not break the NCAA into two divisions of about 150 schools each, each with their own tournament?  That way the small schools would actually have a legitimate chance at a national championship, rather than merely being fodder for the big guys.

If there was a 48-team field this year, who would be left out?  Monmouth, Hampton, NC-Greensboro, Alabama State, Eastern Illinois, and a bunch of other schools youíve never heard of. And you wonít hear of again after they are chewed up by the biggies.

FORTY YEARS AGO

In 1961, the State of Ohio was the center of collegiate basketball as Ohio State and Cincinnati finished 1-2 in the polls.  The Buckeyes were led by Jerry Lucas, but were beaten in the NCAA tourney by Cincinnati, which gained the title that eluded the great Oscar Robertson the previous three years.   Other great players that year were Nate Thurmond of Bowling Green, Terry Dischinger of Purdue, and Bradleyís Chet Walker, against whom I had the opportunity to play against a year later while stationed in Europe in the Army.

KU had a small, but dominating team that year.  All-American Bill Bridges, All-Big 8 Wayne Hightower, and Al Correll, averaging 6í5Ē, formed the frontcourt for the í61 Jayhawks, which finished second in the conference with a 10-4 record.  These three averaged 45 points and 31 rebounds per game.

The backcourt featured 5í11 Jerry Gardner, 6í1 Nolan Ellison, and 5í11 sixth man Dee Ketcham.  These six players contributed over 90% of the team scoring, on their way to a 17-8 season record.  Two of my Topeka High classmates, Pete Woodward and Jimmy Dumas, were subs on the team. 

Bridges became KUís all-time leading rebounder in 1961 and now remains as third best with 1,081 caroms.  Heís 35th on KUís all-time scoring list with 1,028 points in his three years on Mt. Oread.  He later played 13 seasons in the NBA.  Hightower, who only played two years at Kansas, is 26th on KUís all-time scoring list, and owns KUís third best average with 10.8 rebounds per game.  He later played 11 seasons in the ABA and NBA.

The Cyclones experienced a less-than stellar year in Ď61, finishing 14-11 overall.  They were led by all-Big Eight guard Henry Whitney.  Iíd be remiss to overlook the fact that the Clones lost three times that year to the Jayhawks.

The Hawkeyes tied for second in the Big 10 with a 10-4 record, and finished 18-6 overall.  They were led by junior Don Nelson, who averaged 23.7 ppg and 10.8 rebounds.