'Tis the March Madness season, a time when NCAA Division I basketball programs country-wide are jostling for position, vying to be one of 68 to enter the rarefied air of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It’s a time of year when TV analysts earn their pay projecting which relative unknowns will buck expectations and play Cinderella (that is, make the field or win a game or two against better-known rivals).
With the usual fever rising in sports circles, Tom Oates, sports columnist at the Wisconsin State Journal, took a moment to educate readers that Beloit College is the Cinderella to beat all Cinderellas – the most extraordinary of small programs to ever truly make a splash on the national basketball stage.
As he put it in the opening line of his Sunday column, “Beloit College's trip to the NIT 60 years ago was a feat that will never be replicated.”
In a column that quotes several players from the era, Oates reminds readers just how extraordinary our Buccaneers teams were during the Dolph Stanley era (an era during which the men went 242-58 and regularly whipped big-name schools like Florida State, Arizona and BYU). It was a time when the now-beleaguered NIT was the more selective first choice of top programs, rather than the runner-up tournament it now is.
“As unimaginable as it may be in this era of ESPN, bracketologists and seven-figure coaches' salaries, there was a time when tiny Beloit College traded elbows with college basketball's biggest names,” he writes.
Read Oates entire column online. And if you missed it, go back and see Fred Burwell’s December 2 “Friday’s with Fred” entry on the humble – and successful – beginnings of the Beloit basketball program.