20 years ago: Runnin' Utes reach NCAA Elite Eight for 1st time since expanded tournament

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • vasislos Holbrook, AZ
    March 24, 2017 8:21 a.m.

    Wow! A good article to remind us of a great Ute season degenerates into an argument about the value of a tournament that took place over 70 years ago. And as always, ALWAYS, BYU is brought in to the discussion by the usual suspects who cannot get the Cougars out of their heads. And now Arizona? The Utes accomplishments in basketball stand on their own merit and are not enhanced or diminished by making comparisons to any other teams.

  • DeepBlue Anaheim, CA
    March 22, 2017 1:53 p.m.

    Jackie Treehorn

    "The Helms Foundation was already irrelevant; their entire purpose of existence was to retroactively name champions before there was a national tournament."

    There wasn't "A" national tournament in 1944, there were two national tournaments, with one, the NCAA, being the upstart baby brother of the premier tournament, the NIT.

    U lost in the premier tournament, then tried to back-door your way into a national championship by winning the 2nd tier tournament.

    The meaningless charity event that followed doesn't prove anything, since St. John's had already won the premier tournament.

    In fact, NOBODY - not Utah, not St. John's, not even the NCAA - counts the Utah-St. John's encounter as an official game.

  • Uteanymous Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 22, 2017 12:38 p.m.

    Treehorn

    "Dartmouth was widely considered the best team in the country, being stacked with All-Americans from different schools that were simply at Dartmouth for military training."

    Two of Dartmouth's top four scorers, Lionel Baxter and Thomas Killick, didn't even play in the Utah-Dartmouth game because they'd already shipped off to fight a war.

    "The Helms Foundation was already irrelevant; their entire purpose of existence was to retroactively name champions before there was a national tournament."

    The final Converse-Dunkel Ratings for the 1944 season had Army in first, followed by Utah, Kentucky, DePaul and Western Michigan.

  • Y's little brother Sandy, UT
    March 22, 2017 12:06 p.m.

    Jackie Treehorn

    "[Utah] declined the NCAA because the NCAA was unwilling to pay for their travel fees, which the NIT did."

    Exactly what you'd expect from the Premier tournament of the day versus the 2nd rate tournament of the day.

  • Jackie Treehorn St George, UT
    March 22, 2017 8:08 a.m.

    "The Utes were invited to play in both tournaments, but accepted their NIT invitation because the NIT was by far the most prestigious tournament of the day."

    This is documented fiction. They declined the NCAA because the NCAA was unwilling to pay for their travel fees, which the NIT did. After the Arkansas accident, the NCAA then offered to pay for their travel and lodging. Nothing to do with "prestige" because Dartmouth was widely considered the best team in the country, being stacked with All-Americans from different schools that were simply at Dartmouth for military training.

    The Helms Foundation was already irrelevant; their entire purpose of existence was to retroactively name champions before there was a national tournament. Army doesn't even recognize their Helms top ranking as a "championship".

  • phoenix Gilbert, AZ
    March 21, 2017 2:44 p.m.

    Utah's 1944 Basketball Schedule

    1. 18th Replacement Wing W 48-24 SLC
    2. A.S.T.P. Company D W 51-21 SLC
    3. A.S.T.P. Company B W 76-24 SLC
    4. A.S.T.P. ERC W 71-17 SLC
    5. Hill Field Fliers W 61-26 Ogden
    6. Weber W 63-25 Ogden
    7. Weber Navy W 60-25 Ogden
    8. Kearns 2nd Air Force W 45-35 Kearns
    9. Fort Douglas W 41-26 SLC
    10. Wendover Bomber Quintet W 64-28 Wendover
    11. Idaho State W 54-43 SLC
    12. Ecker Studio W 46-44 SLC
    13. Colorado College W 48-34 Colorado Springs
    14. Fort Logan W 55-38 Denver
    15. Fort Warren L 59-61 Cheyenne
    16. Kearns W 57-37 SLC
    17. Salt Lake Air Base L 39-54 SLC
    18. Bushnell Hospital W 78-31 SLC
    19. Idaho State W 52-40 Pocatello
    20. Dow Chemical L 36-46 SLC
    21. Salt Lake Air Base W 62-38 SLC

    10. Wendover Bomber Quintet - only had 5 players?
    16. Kearns - 2nd ward young men's team?

    Bottom line: There's not a roster or history available for any of these teams. For all we know, their drill sergeant simply asked

    "are there any volunteers who would to play a basketball game against the Utes this weekend,"

    if you're not doing anything more important, like sleeping or washing socks.

  • phoenix Gilbert, AZ
    March 21, 2017 2:31 p.m.

    Cactus

    "[The Utes] did lose to Kentucky in the first round of the NIT, but then accepted a late invite to the NCAA tournament..."

    The Utes were invited to play in both tournaments, but accepted their NIT invitation because the NIT was by far the most prestigious tournament of the day.

    Available teams were so scarce, that the NCAA had to scramble to find a replacement for Arkansas, and fortunately for Utah, they had been bounced out of the NIT so quickly that they were available to accept a second invitation from the NCAA.

    Typical of Utah's entire 1943-44 season.

    Just a bunch of hastily arranged games against whoever was available.

    The reason Utah only beat Idaho State and Colorado College during the regular season is those were literally the ONLY two active college teams remaining in the entire inter-mountain area.

  • SportsFan Provo, UT
    March 21, 2017 2:17 p.m.

    Cactus

    "Actually, in the 1943-44 season, Utah was 22-4 overall. They did not play a Skyline Conference schedule that year because of the war, but they were 10-2 at home, 9-1 on the road, and 3-1 at neutral sites. During the regular season they did play mostly military teams (Army, Navy, Air Force) and industrial teams..."

    Actually, Utah was 6-1 against college teams.

    The Utes did play a bunch of pickup games, but there's absolutely no proof that any of those teams had even one former college player, let alone a former college coach. Basically, Utah's competition was the equivalent of going down to the YMCA and calling winners. They played whoever was available.

    And, let's not forget that because of the war, all of the college teams still competing were composed entirely of Freshmen and Sophomores, because all of the players old enough to be drafted were off fighting a world war.

    Incidentally, beating the winner of the NIT in a meaningless exhibition game after they'd already won the biggest tournament of the day, doesn't prove anything.

    The Utes had already lost in the first round of the NIT.

    The Helms Athletic Foundation chose Army (15-0) as the 1944 National Champion.

  • Cactus Moroni, UT
    March 21, 2017 11:50 a.m.

    Actually, in the 1943-44 season, Utah was 22-4 overall. They did not play a Skyline Conference schedule that year because of the war, but they were 10-2 at home, 9-1 on the road, and 3-1 at neutral sites. During the regular season they did play mostly military teams (Army, Navy, Air Force) and industrial teams (Dow Chemical, Ecker Studio) and only played two college teams -- Colorado College and Idaho State (twice) -- but there were not a lot of college teams still functioning in the area because of the war effort and most of the college talent was playing on the military and industrial teams anyway.

    They did lose to Kentucky in the first round of the NIT, but then accepted a late invite to the NCAA tournament (the Arkansas team bowed out after an auto accident on the way there). They beat Missouri and Iowa State in the West Regional in Kansas City, and then beat Dartmouth in MSG in the title game, 42-40 in OT. After winning the NCAA, two days later Utah played a charity game in New York against the NIT champion, St. Johns, and won 43-36. So really, everything considered, certainly a good year and nothing to be embarrassed about.

  • DeepBlue Anaheim, CA
    March 21, 2017 9:58 a.m.

    81Ute, Elmer Fudd

    It's amazing how distorted the crimson-colored view of the world is.

    In 1944, during the middle of a world war when most college basketball programs had been suspended, the Utes beat Idaho State and Colorado College to get an invitation to the NIT, where they lost their first game to Kentucky, before accepting an invitation to the NCAA, where they beat THREE teams to win the 8-team NCAA tournament, which was then the baby brother of the NIT.

    Utah's final record: 6-1

    In 1997, Arizona beat SIX teams, including #1 seed Kansas, #1 seed North Carolina, and #1 seed Kentucky, to win the 64-team NCAA tournament and National Championship.

    Arizona's final record: 25-9

    As painful as it may be for U to admit,

    Arizona beat as many college teams in the 1997 NCAA tournament
    as Utah beat during the ENTIRE 1943-44 season.

    You're only deluding yourself if you think that the two accomplishments are even remotely equivalent.

  • Cactus Moroni, UT
    March 20, 2017 2:07 p.m.

    I agree that Arizona’s finishes are only somewhat better than Utah’s over the years, but the statement by 81Ute was that Utah’s “numbers are greater than EVERYBODY else combined in the intermountain area (including AZ).” That is the part which I think needs some explanation before I would agree. If you add the following to Arizona’s history, I am not sure where 81Ute is coming from:
    2015 - Gonzaga - Elite 8
    1999 - Gonzaga - Elite 8
    1991 - UNLV - Final Four
    1990 - UNLV - National Champions
    1989 - UNLV - Elite 8
    1987 - UNLV - Final Four
    1977 - UNLV - Final Four
    1977 - Idaho State - Elite 8
    1975 - Arizona State - Elite 8
    1970 - New Mexico State - Final Four
    1963 - Arizona State - Elite 8
    1961 - Arizona State - Elite 8
    1952 - Wyoming - Elite 8
    1949 - Wyoming - Elite 8
    1947 - Wyoming - Elite 8
    1943 - Wyoming - National Champion
    1941 - Wyoming - Elite 8
    The Intermountain West is defined as the geographic region between the front range of the Rockies on the east and the Cascades and Sierra Nevada on the west, so I think all the teams listed would be included. Add Arizona to those listed, and it is hard for me to understand how Utah’s numbers are greater than all of them combined.

  • Elmer Fudd Sandy, Utah
    March 20, 2017 11:46 a.m.

    @ Cactus

    It's really not far fetched to say Utah and Arizona both have comparable NCAA Tournament success.

    Comparing Utah and Arizona NCAA Tournament success:

    Arizona
    National Championships: 1
    National Runner-ups: 1
    Final Four: 4
    Elite Eight: 11
    Sweet Sixteens: 19
    Round of 32: 20
    Tournament Appearances: 34

    Utah
    National Championships: 1
    National Runner-ups: 1
    Final Four: 4
    Elite Eight: 6
    Sweet Sixteens: 16
    Round of 32: 16
    Tournament Appearances: 29

    The only big difference is Arizona has more Elite Eight appearances (11-6). Which is why I give them the edge. So you are right about that.

  • Cactus Moroni, UT
    March 20, 2017 11:07 a.m.

    Re: UTE81, not sure why you think "Those numbers are greater than EVERYBODY else combined in the intermountain area (including AZ)." Considering Elite 8 or higher finishes, it looks like Arizona alone has a better record than Utah, let alone combining AZ with all the other teams in the Intermountain area. Here are Arizona and Utah histories for Elite 8 appearances:
    Arizona:
    2015 – "Elite 8"
    2014 – "Elite 8"
    2011 – "Elite 8"
    2005 – "Elite 8"
    2003 – "Elite 8"
    2001 – "National Runner-Up"
    1998 – "Elite 8"
    1997 – "NATIONAL CHAMPIONS"
    1994 – "Final Four"
    1988 – "Final Four"
    1976 – "Elite 8"

    Utah:
    1998 – "National Runner-Up"
    1997 – "Elite 8"
    1966 – "Final Four"
    1961 – "Final Four"
    1956 – "Elite 8"
    1944 – "NATIONAL CHAMPIONS"

  • 81Ute Central, UT
    March 20, 2017 9:04 a.m.

    re talkinsports

    Be careful with your statistics and historical perspective. The same thing will be stated about your team and remove any and all credibility about their 'historical' achievements.

    But the facts are, the Utes have been in the Elite 8 many times, the Final Four a few times and the Championship Game a couple of times. Those numbers are greater than EVERYBODY else combined in the intermountain area (including AZ).

  • Elmer Fudd Sandy, Utah
    March 20, 2017 8:54 a.m.

    @ talkinsports

    So by that same logic. BYU would have zero legitimate Elite Eight appearances since BYU only needed to win one game to get there in 1950 & 1951 and two games in 1981 (BYU's last Elite Eight appearance).

    You can make fun of our 1944 season all you want. But at least we have an NCAA National Championship in basketball. Not to mention four Final Four appearances.

    The only thing BYU has going for them is being the only team to make the most NCAA tournament appearances without reaching the Final Four.

  • talkinsports Gilbert, AZ
    March 19, 2017 10:56 p.m.

    navelvet

    "20 years ago: Runnin' Utes reach NCAA Elite Eight for 5th time ('44, '56, '61, '66, '97)..."

    yawn, it's hilarious how clueless U kids are with your hype.

    Number of wins required for Utah to reach the "Elite Eight" 1944 to 1997

    1944 - ZERO - there were only EIGHT teams in the entire tournament
    1956 - ONE - the Utes were SEEDED in the Sweet 16
    1961 - ONE - the Utes were SEEDED into the Sweet 16
    1966 - ONE - the Utes were SEEDED into the Sweet 16
    1997 - three - the ONLY Elite Eight appearance that required the Utes to do something more than what a Round of 32 team is required to do today.

    Interestingly, the Utes only beat Idaho St (twice) and Colorado Colorado (once) during the entire regular season to qualify for the 1944 NCAA tournament - the EASIEST road to the "Elite Eight" in NCAA history.

  • GoRed WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    March 19, 2017 8:12 p.m.

    I just googled "elite eight" and found a website that said Utah has actually been to 6 NCAA Elite Eight's. It didn't give any dates, though. It also confirmed the 4 Final Fours the Utes have appeared in.

    Funny, but I can't find BYU anywhere on either list.

  • Naval Vet Philadelphia, PA
    March 19, 2017 5:23 p.m.

    Correct you are GoRed. I noticed that too. The headline should have either stated:

    (a) 20 years ago: Runnin' Utes reach NCAA Elite Eight for 5th time ('44, '56, '61, '66, '97)...

    ...or...

    (b) 20 years ago: Majerus' Runnin' Utes reach NCAA Elite Eight for 1st time.

  • 81Ute Central, UT
    March 19, 2017 5:10 p.m.

    Hey Go Red, you are going to ruin the narrative that all sports started and will end with byu.

  • SurpriseCat Surprise, AZ
    March 19, 2017 3:03 p.m.

    I'm guessing the author meant since the expansion to 64 teams. By which criteria, of course, no one else in the state has been there except Utah.

  • GoRed WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    March 19, 2017 10:13 a.m.

    The headline "Utes reach Elite Eight for 1st time (in 1997)" is absolutely incorrect. If you recall, Utah had made it to the Final Four three times previously: 1944 (they won the championship), 1961, and 1966. They would then make it to the Final Four and championship game the following year (1998).

    So tell me, how is it that Utah's Elite Eight appearance in 1997 was their 1st, when three previous times they had actually made it beyond the Elite Eight to the Final Four?