1944 Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament

75 Years of March Madness (NCAA)

1944 NCAA Tournament | Bracket

Champion: Utah

Most Outstanding Player: Arnie Ferrin, Utah

Final Four: Utah, Dartmouth, Ohio State, Iowa State

Shining Moments

  • The first formation of March Madness. The title game between Utah and Dartmouth went to overtime after Dartmouthís Dick McGuire sank a long-distance prayer. Then Utahís Herb Wilkinson took a 17-footer from the top of the key and hit the game-winning shot, giving Utah its only national title.
  • Who said freshmen werenít commonplace stars until the Ď80s? Ferrin was a first-year player for the Utes and won MOP.
  • Utah didnít want to be in the NCAAs. It actually played in both the NIT and NCAAs that year, one of the few teams to ever do that. Arkansas had to withdraw after two players got in a car accident, and Utah stepped in for a second chance.
  • 1943 finalists Georgetown and Wyoming canít play because they literally donít have the teams to. World War II dismantled their programs temporarily.
  • Something that would never fly today: Dartmouth was essentially tipping off with ringers. Because of the war, players from St. Johnís, NYU (a power until the Ď60s) and Cornell were stationed nearby for naval training. So Ö they played in Dartmouth uniforms and everyone just seemed cool with that. Hey, if UCLA ends up not being good, can we ship them off to Arizona this March and just see how things go? Twas a simpler, stranger time in 1944.
- Matt Norlander

Championship Game

Location: New York

Utah (42)
Player Min. FG FT-A PF.
Arnie Ferrin 45 8 6-7 0
Dick Smuin 45 0 0-0 2
Fred Sheffield 4 1 0-0 1
Wat Misaka 41 2 0-0 1
Herb Wilkinson 45 3 1-4 0
Bob Lewis 45 2 3-3 2
Totals 225 16 10-14 6

Dartmouth (40)
Player Min. FG FT-A PF.
Bob Gale 37 5 0-2 1
Walter Mercer 19 0 1-1 3
Harry Leggat 34 4 0-0 1
Ev Nordstrom 8 0 0-0 0
Aud Brindley 39 5 1-1 3
Dick McGuire 38 3 0-1 3
Frank Murphy 17 0 0-0 0
Joe Vancisin 19 2 0-0 3
Vince Goering 14 0 0-0 0
Totals 225 19 2-5 14

  • Scoring Leader: Aud Brindley, Dartmouth (52 points, 17.3 ppg).
  • Highest Scoring Average: Nick Buzolich, Pepperdine (45 points, 22.5 ppg).
  • Most Outstanding Player: Arnie Ferrin, F, Fr., Utah (28 points in final two games).

    1944 Tournament Scores

    REGIONAL SEMIFINALS
    East
    Dartmouth 63, Catholic (D.C.) 38
    Ohio State 57, Temple 47

    West
    Iowa State 44, Pepperdine 39
    Utah 45, Missouri 35


    REGIONAL THIRD PLACE
    East
    Temple 55, Catholic (D.C.) 35

    West
    Missouri 61, Pepperdine 46


    REGIONAL FINALS
    East
    Dartmouth 60, Ohio State 53

    West
    Utah 40, Iowa State 31


    CHAMPIONSHIP
    Utah 42, Dartmouth 40 (OT)
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