During the March Madness of 1963, playing was infused with politics. The NCAA matchup between Loyola University of Chicago and Mississippi State helped put an end to segregated basketball. Loyola's win 50 years ago became known as the "game of change."
At the time, college basketball was still predominantly white, with usually no more than two or three black players appearing on the floor at any one time. But in '63, the Loyola Ramblers' starting lineup featured four black players.
I've always felt it's no coincidence that some basketball powerhouses — let us say, off the top of my head, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Indiana — get a few better players because those hoops museums don't do very well with football.
I mean, if I were a big-deal high school recruit, I might very well say to myself, "You know, I'd rather be a Hoosier or a Wildcat or a Jayhawk than I would go someplace where I'm just gonna be a lounge act for the glamorous Mr. Touchdowns."
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Every spring, you hear that almost anyone can win March Madness. Well, this year, it's true. There's no obvious favorite in this month's NCAA men's basketball tournament, at least a dozen contenders from schools big and small. And conference championships began today. So who knows which contender will fall on its face and which dark horse no one considered will emerge in the next two weeks?
The image of Pat Summitt for many fans is that of a madwoman, decked out in orange, yelling to her players from the sideline. In 38 years as the head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team, Summitt shouted her team to more victories than any other coach in the history of college basketball — men's or women's.
Now the famously fierce coach is facing an opponent unlike any other: In 2011, she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.