1951 NCAA Basketball Tournament

The 1951 NCAA Basketball Tournament involved 16 schools playing in single-elimination play to determine the national champion of men's NCAA Division I college basketball. It began on March 20, 1951, and ended with the championship game on March 27 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A total of 18 games were played, including a third place game in each region and a national third place game.

1951 NCAA Basketball Tournament
Finals siteWilliams Arena
Minneapolis, Minnesota
ChampionsKentucky Wildcats (3rd title, 3rd title game,
4th Final Four)
Runner-upKansas State Wildcats (1st title game,
2nd Final Four)
Winning coachAdolph Rupp (3rd title)
MOPBill Spivey (Kentucky)
Top scorerDon Sunderlage Illinois
(83 points)
NCAA Division I Men's Tournaments
«1950 1952»

Kentucky, coached by Adolph Rupp, won the national title with a 68–58 victory over Kansas State, coached by Jack Gardner.

This NCAA tournament was the first with a 16-team field. Only the championship and third place games were held in Minneapolis, while the semifinals were held in the respective regional sites; similar to previous years. A true "Final Four" (semifinals and final at same location) debuted the following year.

The twelve-team National Invitation Tournament (NIT) was held the previous week in New York City at Madison Square Garden, with its championship on Saturday, March 17. Four teams competed in both tournaments, including NIT champion BYU;[1][2][3] they lost in the quarterfinal round, by ten points to Kansas State.[4][5] The three other teams were Arizona, North Carolina State, and St. John's.


The following are the sites selected to host each round of the 1951 tournament:

First roundEdit

March 20
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, North Carolina
March 21 and 22
Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, Missouri


March 22 and 24
East Regional, Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
March 23 and 24
West Regional, Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City, Missouri

Championship GameEdit

March 27
Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The city of Minneapolis became the fifth host city, and Williams Arena the fifth host arena, of the National Championship game. It was the third college venue to do so, after Patten Gym in 1939 and Hec Edmundson Pavilion in 1949. For the ninth and twelfth straight years, Madison Square Garden and the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium hosted the East and West regionals, respectively. The two other arenas would also host the Sweet Sixteen games; while the Municipal Auditorium did so on consecutive days, Madison Square Garden shared duties for these games with a new venue, Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. It was the first games held in the state of North Carolina, and the second time a Southern school hosted games after Tulane University did in 1942. Reynolds would go on to host games a dozen times over a thirty-year stretch.


Region Team Coach Finished Final Opponent Score
East Columbia Lou Rossini Sweet Sixteen Illinois L 79–71
East Connecticut Hugh Greer Sweet Sixteen St. John's L 63–52
East Illinois Harry Combes Third Place Oklahoma A&M W 61–46
East Kentucky Adolph Rupp Champion Kansas State W 68–58
East Louisville Peck Hickman Sweet Sixteen Kentucky L 79–68
East NC State Everett Case Regional Fourth Place St. John's L 71–59
East St. John's Frank McGuire Regional Third Place NC State W 71–59
East Villanova Alex Severance Sweet Sixteen NC State L 67–62
West Arizona Fred Enke Sweet Sixteen Kansas State L 61–59
West BYU Stan Watts Regional Fourth Place Washington L 80–67
West Kansas State Jack Gardner Runner-up Kentucky L 68–58
West Montana State Brick Breeden Sweet Sixteen Oklahoma A&M L 50–46
West Oklahoma A&M Henry Iba Fourth Place Illinois L 61–46
West San Jose State Walt McPherson Sweet Sixteen BYU L 68–61
West Texas A&M John Floyd Sweet Sixteen Washington L 62–40
West Washington Tippy Dye Regional Third Place BYU W 80–67


First round Second round National Semifinals National Final
Illinois 79
Columbia 71
Illinois 84
NC State 70
NC State 67
Villanova 62
Illinois 74
Kentucky 76
Kentucky 79
Louisville 68
Kentucky 59
St John's 43
St John's 63
Connecticut 52
Kentucky 68
Kansas State 58
Kansas State 61
Arizona 59
Kansas State 64
BYU 54
BYU 68
San Jose State 61
Kansas State 68
Oklahoma A&M 44
Oklahoma A&M 50
Montana State 46
Oklahoma A&M 61
Washington 57
Washington 62
Texas A&M 40

National Third Place GameEdit

National Third Place
Illinois 61
Oklahoma A&M 46

Regional Third Place GamesEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Miller, Hack (March 18, 1951). "BYU smashes Dayton in finale, 62-43". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. C1.
  2. ^ Grimsley, Will (March 18, 1951). "Brigham Young cops invitational hoop title, 62-43". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. p. 1B.
  3. ^ Miller, Hack (March 18, 1951). "BYU gets nod in NCAA cage opener". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. A11.
  4. ^ Miller, Hack (March 24, 1951). "Kansas State dumps cold Cougars, 64-54". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. A5.
  5. ^ "Kansas State whips BYU, 64-54". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. March 24, 1951. p. 10.
  6. ^ "1951 NCAA Basketball Tournament". College Basketball Reference. Retrieved 4 April 2018.