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Today in Sports History: 3/27 – First NCAA Tournament Championship Game

Today in sports history (1939), the Oregon Webfoots beat the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first NCAA Tournament championship game ever. Patten Gymnasium in Evansville, Illinois hosted the championship game. Slim Wintermute, Lauren Gale, John H. Dick, Bobby Anet and Wally Johansen filled out the starting lineup for Oregon. Jimmy Hull, John Schick, Dick Baker, Dick Boughner and Bob Lynch led the way for the Buckeyes.

This game was famously noted as being the first organized NCAA Tournament championship game. Unlike today’s tournament, the 1939 tournament featured only eight teams, as opposed to 68. Oregon took down Oklahoma to make the championship, while Ohio State took down Villanova.

Oregon Ohio State First National Championship
Credit: Getty Images

Oregon Webfoots Win First NCAA Tournament Championship

As basketball was still growing as a sport, the listed audience of the game was in a range between 4,400 and 5,500. Either just above or just below half of Patten Gymnasium. James Naismith was in attendance for the game.

Oregon opened up the game with an Anet put-back layup. They added on their lead hitting another layup and two free throws to start 6-0. What gave Oregon the advantage in this game was their pace of play. The Webfoots were moving up the court quickly and scoring quickly. This was something that Ohio State had not become accustomed to in their previous games. Making quick in-game adjustments, going on an 11-6 run, they brought the score to within one. Johansen and Anet eventually built Oregon’s lead back up to seven with three baskets. Dick scored the last two baskets of the first half, as Oregon led 21-16 at the break.

In the first minute of the second half, Hull scored the first two buckets of the second half to once again cut the lead to one, 21-20. That’s when Oregon took over. Dick made two of four straight Oregon baskets to extend the lead to nine. Baskets went back and forth until Oregon went up 11, 40-29. This is when their stalling offense started to frustrate the Buckeyes. This strategy paid off, as Oregon kept a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game, eventually winning, 46-33.

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