In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Adolph Rupp's Kentucky team reclaims the crown in College Basketball, winning their third tournament in four years. The Wildcats of Kentucky rolled over Kansas State 68-58 in the championship game at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. The championship comes amidst gathering storm clouds as a point-shaving scandal would come to tarnish their three championship teams, leading to the program being banned for the 1952/53 season.
As the 1950s began, basketball was a critical crossroad. The NCAA and NIT were on equal footing, and teams could choose to participate in both. In 1950, CCNY became the only school to win both tournaments in the same season. Kentucky had attempted to win both in 1949 but lost to Loyola in the NIT. That loss would prove too costly as three key Kentucky players (Ralph Beard, Alex Groza, and Dale Barnstable) admitted to point shaving. Kentucky won the NCAA Tournament in 1948 and 1949 but was not invited in 1950 and lost in the NIT.
The NCAA Tournament began to grow into the tournament we knew today in 1951. It doubled from eight teams to 16 and was a year away from introducing the Final Four. That year the semifinals were still held at the site of the regionals. Kentucky was ranked #1 in 1951, posting a record of 32-2. Kentucky waltzed through the East Region, beating rival Louisville 79-69 and St. John's 59-43. In the semifinals at Madison Square Garden, they faced their biggest test edging Illinois 76-74. Kansas State coach be Jack Gardner reached the semifinals with close wins over Arizona and NIT Champion BYU. In the semifinals at Kansas City, they defeated Oklahoma A&M 68-44 to earn a trip to their first championship game.
In the championship game, Kansas State got off to a strong start, control the pace as they led 29-27 at the half. However, the second half saw Kentucky takeover as Bill Spivey on the way to being named Most Outstanding Played dominated in the middle. Spivey scored a game-high 22 points with 21 rebounds as Kentucky won the game going away 68-58.
Bill Spivey's big game would be his last shining moment, as he was also arrested in the point-shaving scandal. Spivey would not play again for Kentucky and was never allowed into the NBA due to his charges, even though he was found not guilty in the subsequent trial.