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March Madness: The Cow Palace

The Cow Palace in Daly City, California has hosted numerous NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament games. It has hosted the opening round in 1955, the regional rounds in 1958 and 1959 and the Final Four in 1960. During each of these years, this venue has witnessed some of the greatest individual talents to ever come through the NCAA. These are their stories.


The Cow Palace hosted just one game for the 1955 NCAA Tournament. The University of Seattle boasted a 21-6 record going into their first round matchup with Idaho State. Led by Dick Strickland’s 20 points, the Chieftains defeated the Idaho State Bengals 80-63. Also contributing for Seattle were Stan Glowaski (17 pts), Carl Bauer (15 pts) and John Kelly (13 pts). The Chieftains lost in the next round to Oregon State 83-71 and then lost the third place game to Utah 108-85.


The University of Seattle was once again in the NCAA Tournament but this time they featured one of the top scorers of that era, Elgin Baylor. Averaging 32.5 points and 19.3 rebounds per game, Baylor led the Chieftains to a top 20 national ranking headed into the NCAA Tournament. After defeating Wyoming 88-51 in the first round at Harmon Gym, Seattle faced off against the University of San Francisco Dons at the Cow Palace. Fresh off of their own dynasty, USF still had the talent to make things difficult for the Chieftains. Seattle prevailed 69-67 with Baylor recording 35 points and 14 rebounds.

The next day, Baylor again led the Chieftains to a victory in the Cow Palace, this time against local favorite UC Berkeley. The Golden Bears refused to lose and regulation ended with the game tied at 60. Seattle pulled away to defeat Cal 66-62 with Baylor leading the way with 26 points and 18 rebounds. The Chieftains then went to Louisville, Kentucky where lost two rounds later in the national championship game against Kentucky.


Coming off of their heartbreaking loss to Seattle the year before, the California Golden Bears were determined to redeem themselves and win the national championship in 1959. The 1959 California Golden Bears Men’s Basketball team was one of its best. Led by Darrall Imhoff and Denny Fitzpatrick, the Golden Bears boasted a 21-4 record entering the NCAA Tournament. They dominated the competition in the first two rounds in the Cow Palace, defeating Utah 71-53 and Saint Mary’s 66-46. From there, they went on to Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky where they defeated Cincinnati 64-58 in the semifinal and West Virginia 71-70 to win the national championship.


The 1960 Ohio State Buckeyes men’s basketball team was one of the best in school history. Led by Jerry Lucas, Larry Siegfried and John Havlicek, the three future NBA players brought the Buckeyes to the Final Four with a 23-3 record.

Meanwhile, Cal was trying to defend their national championship from the year before and boasted a 26-1 record headed into the Final Four. Ohio State kicked things off in the Cow Palace with a 76-54 win over New York University. Cal defeated Cincinnati 77-69 in the other semifinal at the Cow Palace, surviving an 18 point, 10 rebound and 10 assist effort by Oscar Robertson.

In the national championship game, the two talent-laden teams clashed for the sport’s highest honor. Ohio State started off strong, going into halftime with a 37-19 lead. However, Cal was great for a reason and refused to go down easy. Though the Golden Bears scored 36 points in the second half, the Buckeye’s 38 points proved to be too much and Ohio State won the national championship 75-55. Five members of the Buckeye’s team scored ten or more points: Jerry Lucas (16), Mel Nowell (15), Larry Siegfried (13), John Havlicek (12) and Joe Roberts (10). Since that day, there has never been another NCAA Tournament game played within the confines of the Cow Palace.

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