1981 College Basketball Recap
Ray Meyer took over the basketball program at DePaul in 1943 and for his first four years got to coach George Mikan.
With the 6-10 Mikan in the pivot, DePaul finished third in the 1943 NCAA tournament, second in the 1944 NIT and then won the NIT in 1945.
After Mikan graduated and went off to the pros, Meyer and DePaul avoided the glare of public attention until the late 1970s when the Blue Demons, ranked No.3 after the regular season in 1978, finished third in the NCAAs in 1979 and entered the postseason ranked No.1 in both 1980 and '81.
Both of those No.1 DePaul clubs were upset in the first round by unranked teams—in 1980 by UCLA (77–71) and in 1981 by St. Joseph's of Pa. (49–48). In fact, '81 was a big year for watching the mighty fall. No.2 Oregon State lost to Kansas State (50–48) while No.3 Arizona State was routed by Kansas (88–71).
With the tournament suddenly wide open, No.9 Indiana, led by sophomore guard Isiah Thomas, came out of the Mideast Regional to win the title. The Hoosiers defeated North Carolina by 13 in the final. Thomas, the tournament MVP, turned pro after the season and was first round draft pick of the Detroit Pistons.