The 1961 NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament involved 24 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men’s NCAA Division I college basketball in the United States. It began on March 14, 1961, and ended with the championship game on March 25 in Kansas City, Missouri. A total of 28 games were played, including a third-place game in each region and a national third-place game.
Cincinnati, coached by Ed Jucker, won the national title with a 70–65 victory in the final game over state rival Ohio State, coached by Fred Taylor. Jerry Lucas of Ohio State was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
The national third-place game, won by Saint Joseph’s over Utah by the score of 127–120 in four overtimes, tied the record for the longest game in NCAA Division I tournament history, set in 1956 in a first-round game between Canisius and North Carolina State. As of the regional finals of the 2019 tournament, no NCAA Division I tournament games since then have gone to a fourth overtime period. Saint Joseph’s victory was later vacated because of the 1961 gambling scandal.
The 1962 NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament involved 25 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men’s NCAA Division I college basketball in the United States. It began on March 12, 1962, and ended with the championship game on March 24 in Louisville, Kentucky. A total of 29 games were played, including a third-place game in each region and a national third-place game, which was won by Wake Forest.
For the second consecutive season, Cincinnati, coached by Ed Jucker, played Ohio State, coached by Fred Taylor, in the final game. Cincinnati won the national title with a 71–59 victory over Ohio State. Paul Hogue of Cincinnati was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
The total attendance for the tournament was 177,469, a new record.
Cincinnati’s men’s basketball squads have been a perennial bracket team in the NCAA tournament. A prolific era in Bearcats basketball was during the late 1950s and early 1960s when the Bearcats posted five consecutive Final Four appearances. Unanimous three-time All American guard Oscar Robertson led the nation in scoring during the 1957–58, 1958–59, and 1959–60 seasons and posted a career average of 33.8 points per game, which ranks as the third all-time best in Division I.
Cincinnati has won two national championships in 1961 and 1962. The 1961 and 1962 titles were won under rookie coach Ed Jucker.
College Sports Established
University of Cincinnati
1973 – Present / NCAA Division 1
1921 – 1973 / University Division of the NCAA
1910 – 1921 / Athletic Association of the United States
2013 – Present / American Athletic Conference
2005 – 2013 / Big East Conference
1995 – 2005 / Conference USA
1991 – 1995 / Great Midwest Conference
1975 – 1991 / Metro Conference
1957 – 1969 / Missouri Valley Conference
1947 – 1952 / Mid-American Conference
1925 – 1935 / Buckeye Athletic Association
1910 – 1924 / Ohio Athletic Conference
Bearcats – The Bearcat became the UC mascot on October 31, 1914, in a football game against the UK Wildcats. The key players in the birth of the Bearcat were a star UC player named Baehr, a creative cheerleader, and a talented cartoonist. During the second half of that hard-fought football game, UC cheerleader Norman “Pat” Lyon, building on the efforts of fullback Leonard K. “Teddy” Baehr, created the chant: “They may be Wildcats, but we have a Baehr-cat on our side.” The crowd took up the cry: “Come on, Baehr-cat!” Cincinnati prevailed, 14–7, and the victory was memorialized in a cartoon published on the front page of the student newspaper, the weekly University News, on November 3. The cartoon, by John “Paddy” Reece, depicted a bedraggled Kentucky Wildcat being chased by a creature labeled “Cincinnati Bear Cat.”
The name stuck, but not immediately. Following Teddy Baehr’s graduation in 1916, the name dropped out of use, at least in print, for a few years. On November 15, 1919, Cincinnati played at Tennessee. The Cincinnati Enquirer writer Jack Ryder’s dispatch on the game was the first time that the major media called UC’s teams “Bearcats.” From then on, the university’s teams were regularly called Bearcats.
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