Dec. 13, 2012
CHICAGO - To celebrate 75 years of the NCAA Men's Final Four, the NCAA has partnered with the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) to commission paintings by renowned sports artist Opie Otterstad of each of the head coaches who have won a NCAA Men's Basketball championship.
In Louisville, Ky., 50 years ago, Loyola University Chicago shocked the nation by knocking off two-time defending champion Cincinnati, 60-58 in overtime, to win the 1963 NCAA Championship, despite playing just five players during the game. Led by legendary head coach George Ireland, the Ramblers led the nation in scoring with 91.8 points per game and were paced by two-time All-American Jerry Harkness, who contributed 21.4 points per outing that season. Harkness received plenty of support from his teammates, with Les Hunter (17.0 ppg), John Egan (13.7 ppg), Vic Rouse (13.5 ppg), and Ron Miller (13.3 ppg) all averaging double figures.
On the road to the national championship that year, Loyola knocked off Mississippi State in the NCAA Regional semifinal round, in what has become known as "The Game of Change." Ireland's Loyola roster featured four African-Americans in the starting lineup and Mississippi State's all-white team had previously been denied the chance to play integrated teams due to an unwritten state law.
However, Mississippi State snuck out of town under the cover of darkness before Gov. Ross Barnett could serve an injunction that would have prevented the team from playing Loyola, in what has been labeled as one of the top March Madness moments in NCAA history.
An original painting of Coach Ireland with members of Loyola's 1963 NCAA Championship team will be unveiled at a pregame gathering before the Ramblers' game versus Mississippi State Saturday night (Dec. 15) at Gentile Arena. In addition to 250 limited edition reproductions, the original painting will be available for purchase at www.NCAA.com/Art beginning at 11 a.m. Central on December 16.
The original painting can be bid on by fans through the NCAA.com/Art website and the limited edition reproductions are available for purchase for $475 each. Otterstad's original painting will be up for auction on the site for approximately 10 days, and the reproductions will be available while supplies last.