Friday, March 6, 2015

March Madness (1969)

As you can clearly see from the following, EXCLUSIVE Heath Post graphic (!), the NCAA men's basketball tournament starts Saturday, March 8, 1969. 

UCLA is the two-time defending champion, but I will be rooting for Kentucky, ...

... Murray State ...

... and, provided the Cardinals beat Drake on March 10, Louisville.


  1. On March 8, 1969, the Cats did beat Tennessee 84-69. UK was up only 35-34 at the half, but the Big Blue pulled away in the second half. Dan Issel (who has had an amazing season) finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

    So the Cats finish the year with a record of 22-4 overall, and 16-2 in the SEC. They are ranked 7th in the final AP poll of the year (but 5th in the Coaches' Poll).

  2. Here's the Final AP top 20 for 1969:

    1. UCLA
    2. LaSalle (on probation and not eligible for the NCAA's)
    3. Santa Clara
    4. N. Carolina
    5. Davidson
    6. Purdue
    7. Kentucky
    8. St. John's
    9. Duquesne
    10. Villanova
    11. Drake
    12. New Mexico St.
    13. S. Carolina
    14. Marquette
    15. Louisville
    16. Boston College
    17. Notre Dame
    18. Colorado
    19. Kansas
    20. Illinois

  3. Louisville did not make the NCAA Tournament, losing the MVC title to Drake.

  4. OK, so now 1969 UK moves on to the Mideast Region. Back in the 1960's, every team was assigned to a region, and you were always sent to the same region if you made the tournament. The Mideast Region was brutal. It consisted of six teams: the SEC regular season champion, the Big 10 regular season champion, the Mid-American Conference regular season champion, the Ohio Valley Conference regular season champion, and two at-large teams. The SEC champ and the Big 10 champ get byes to the Sweet 16, while the other four teams have to playoff for two spots in the Sweet 16.

    1. Here's what the Mideast Region would look like in 2015, using the rules of 1969:

      SEC regular season champ: Kentucky
      Big-10 regular season champ: Wisconsin
      MAC regular season champ: Buffalo
      OVC regular season champ: Murray St.
      At large: Notre Dame
      At large: Butler

    2. As it turned out, by the way, the 2015 Wildcats did have to play Notre Dame and Wisconsin. And those games were brutally difficult.

  5. In 1969, the two play-off games for the Mideast Regional were played in Carbondale, Illinois on Saturday, March 8 (the same day that UK was wrapping up its season against UT). Here's what happened:

    (14) Marquette beat Murray State 82-62. This was not a big surprise, but it was bad news for Kentucky. Instead of getting Murray in the Sweet 16, the Cats will face Marquette in Madison, Wisconsin.

    Miami of Ohio beat (17) Notre Dame 63-60. The Redskins advance to the Sweet 16, where they will face Purdue.

  6. The UK-Marquette and Purdue-Miami (O.) games will take place in Madison, Wisconsin on Thursday, March 13. I will be very interested to know whether they were televised in Kentucky.

  7. At the time, it was widely assumed that the 1969 NCAA Tournament was a big waste of time -- UCLA had run away with the crown in 1967 and 1968, and the players who won those titles (including Lew Alcindor) were seniors in 1969. So there was very little reason to believe they wouldn't win their third title in a row -- something that had never been done before.

  8. This had to be painful for UK fans, who had entered the season tied with UCLA at four national championships apiece. But all is not lost. If the Big Blue can get to the Finals, they could get to play UCLA in Freedom Hall. And who knows? Anything might happen in such an atmosphere.

    Besides, UK's best players (including Issel) are Juniors, while Lew Alcindor and company are Seniors. So even if UCLA wins it all this year, the Cats have a great chance to get their fifth title next year.

  9. Just as Go Heath predicted, Kentucky did beat Tennessee in the regular-season finale on Saturday, March 8, 1969. And Murray State's Racers lost at SIU to Marquette, and Miami of Ohio upset Notre Dame (Fighting Irish coach John Dee is about to go back to his old job as an attorney).

  10. The big news in NCAA basketball Saturday, though, was that UCLA lost--after 41 straight wins! The Bruins and Southern Cal played both Friday and Saturday. Friday night's game at USC went to double overtime before UCLA prevailed, 61-55; the unranked Trojans won, 46-44, at Pauley Pavilion in what the AP termed "a colossal upset." USC's 7-foot-1 center Ron "Tiny" Taylor held Lew Alcindor to 10 points.

  11. Saturday's other NCAA-tournament winners for you to fill in on your printout of the EXCLUSIVE, HP bracket graphic: Duquesne, Davidson, Saint John's, Texas A&M, Colorado State, New Mexico State and Seattle.

    Also Saturday, Colorado clinched the Big 8, and North Carolina beat Duke for the ACC bid. So you can fill in those two winners in slots "B" and "C" on your bracket.

  12. It's odd to think that in 1969, you couldn't see nearly as much sports as you can now -- but two games that got national coverage were the NCAA Consolation Game and the MLB All-Star Game, both of which are basically exhibitions with no meaning to hard-core fans. Very odd.