Today is 75th anniversary of first NCAA title game -- at Northwestern

To the best of anyone's knowledge, there were no calls by basketball players to unionize on Northwestern's campus on this date in history: March 27, 1939.

Maybe it's because the first NCAA championship game drew only 5,500 fans and the entire event lost $2,531.


Today is the 75th anniversary of the Oregon Tall Firs' 46-33 title-game win over Ohio State in Patten Gymnasium.

That's right. Northwestern hosted the first NCAA tournament but its basketball team has never qualified for it. As they say, maybe next year.

The NCAA championship has, um, changed. This year's title game will be held in Jerry Jones' 100,000-seat stadium in North Texas.

Networks now pay billions of dollars to televise the 68-team tournament, so maybe it's no wonder the "student athletes" are looking for their cut.

The only "madness" involved that March in 1939 was Oregon's train itinerary traveling to Evanston for ONE game.

Oregon officials put a photo on Instagram celebrating the historic event, a photo that shows Oregon fans packing a train station awaiting the arrival of the team after their victory:

John Dick led Oregon with 13 points while Laddie Gale and Bobby Anet each had 10. It appears there was "West Coast bias" even back then, as Ohio State's Jimmy Hull was named the MVP.

L.H. Gregory, sports editor of the Oregonian newspaper, dubbed the basketball team "Tall Firs" because the squad featured 6-foot-8 Urgel "Slim" Wintermute and two 6-foot-4 forwards in Dick and Gale.

The NCAA tournament started in response to the success of the National Invitation Tournament, conceived by New York's Metropolitan Writers' Assn., at Madison Square Garden.

Ohio State coach Harold Olsen suggested that the coaches sponsor their own event, and NCAA President William. B. Owens of Stanford authorized the game in 1939.

There were only eight teams involved and the play-in games were regional events. Oregon won the West by defeating Texas and Oklahoma in a pavilion on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay (Note: This year's West regionals are being staged at landlocked Honda Center).

Oregon traveled 3,000 miles for the final and then trekked back home to Eugene. The event was deemed a "success" even though the coaches lost $2,531.

They then asked the NCAA to pick up the tab and take over the event.