On This Date in Sports March 14, 1982: Three Times a Loser
In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
The top seed in the Midwest Region, DePaul, is eliminated by #8 Boston College 82-75 in Dallas. It is the third straight year that the Blue Demons are bounced after one game. In 1980, DePaul was the top-ranked team before losing to UCLA 77-71. In 1981, they were #1 again when they lost to St. Joseph's 49-48 John Smith's layup with two seconds left. DePaul had reached the Final Four in 1979, led by Ray Meyer. At the time, the NCAA Basketball Tournament had 48 teams, with #1 seeds getting a bye into the second round.
The Madness of March sharpened its nails at the expense of DePaul. The Blue Demons were among the top teams in the nation, a perennial powerhouse under coach Ray Meyer. Meyer had been the coach at DePaul since 1942. He took the Blue Demons to the Final Four in his first season. In 1945, Meyer led DePaul to a championship in the NIT; at the time, the NIT was considered a more elite tournament than the NCAA. Over the next three decades, DePaul was a consistent winner, but it was not until the NCAA Tournament expanded that they became a player in the NCAA Tournament. After reaching, the 1978 Elite Eight, DePaul played in the Final Four in 1979, losing to Indiana State 76-74. The Blue Demons would beat Penn in the third-place game 96-93 and had high hopes in 1980.
DePaul was set to get a new arena as the Rosemont Horizon was completed in 1980. For most of the regular season, the Blue Demons were the top-ranked team, winning their first 25 games before suffering a 76-74 loss to Notre Dame in double overtime in the season's penultimate game. DePaul would finish 26-1 and were ranked #1 as they hosted #8 UCLA. In the opening round, the Bruins defeated #9 Old Dominion 87-74. Led by Larry Brown, UCLA hit their stride when the tournament began. They would stun DePaul 77-71 to reach the Sweet 16. UCLA would eventually reach the Final Four, losing to Louisville in the Championship Game 59-54.
The Rosemont Horizon opened, as DePaul continued to be among the elite teams in the NCAA. DePaul went into the NCAA Tournament ranked #2 overall, as they had the top-seed in the Mideast Region. The Blue Demons posted a record of 27-1, with their lone loss coming by one point (63-62) against Old Dominion on January 10th. This may have been the most heartbreaking loss for the Blue Demons, as they lost 49-48 to #9 St. Joseph's in Dayton, as John Smith hit a game-winning layup with two seconds left. Coached by Jim Lynam, the Hawks beat #8 Creighton 59-57 in the opening round. They would win another thriller against Boston College 42-41 before losing to eventual champion Indiana 78-46 in the Regional Finals.
For the third straight season, DePaul had a nearly perfect season, posting a record of 26-1. Their only loss was an 87-75 defeat to UCLA in December. Again, they earned a top-seed in the NCAA Tournament. At the time the NCAA Tournament had 48 teams, with the top four seeds in each region earning a bye to the second round. DePaul would face Boston College in the second round coached by Tom Davis were seeded eighth and defeated #9 San Francisco 70-66. John Bagley had a big game for BC, scoring a game-high 27 points, as Michael Adams scored 21 off the bench. Terry Cummings was the leading scorer for DePaul with 20 points, as they tasted bitter disappointment again. Boston College would beat Kansas State 69-65 before losing to Houston 99-92 with a trip to the Final Four on the line.