On This Date in Sports March 25, 1947: Championship Crusade

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Holy Cross wins the NCAA Championship, defeating Oklahoma 58-47 in the final at New York's Madison Square Garden. The Crusaders were led by George Kaftan, who scored 18 points in the championship game. Kaftan was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player as 35,000 fans showed up to the team's victory rally in Worcester. Holy Cross ended the season on a 23-game winning streak as freshman Bob Cousy became a critical playmaker. 

The NCAA Tournament was in its infancy in 1947. Just eight teams made the tournament, and it was considered to be on equal footing with the National Invitation Tournament. The NIT was held at Madison Square Garden every season to help bolster the NCAA Tournament; the finals were also regularly at the Garden in New York, which had become the "Mecca of Basketball." 

Holy Cross, a tiny Jesuit College in Worcester, Massachuttes, and the oldest catholic university in the United States, built an exciting basketball team around Bob Cousy. Cousy was one of six freshmen that played for the Crusaders as coach Doggie Julian wanted to create a fast-paced game, relying on Cousy's experience from playing the street game while growing up in New York. After a slow start, the Crusaders won 20 straight games to finish the regular season 24-3.

Holy Cross was the eighth-rated team in the eight-team field as they began the tournament against Navy. WIth Joe Mullaney scoring 18 points, the Crusaders upset Navy 55-47 before a sold-out crowd at MSG. Meanwhile, CCNY thumped Wisconsin 70-56, Oklahoma edged Oregon State 56-54, and Texas beat Wyoming 42-40.

Holy Cross got a 30-point performance for George Kaftan in the semifinals as they beat CCNY 60-45. The Sooners beat Texas 54-54 as the championship game featured a battle of two teams seeking their first championship. Kaftan again led the way for the Crusaders with 18 points to earn the Most Outstanding Player Award. Holy Cross would win 58-47, becoming the first school from New England to win the NCAA Tournament.