Xavier University Men, 1958 NIT Champions
As the saying goes, “the third time was a charm” for Xavier and its fans. in 1956 head coach Ned Wulk guided the Musketeers to their first ever NIT appearance by beating St. Louis 84-80 in the first round before losing in the Quarterfinals 72-68. Wulk brought Xavier back into the NIT in 1957, defeating Seton Hall 85-79 before being eliminated by eventual champion Bradley.
Needless to say, expectations were high heading into the 1957-58 season. First-year coach Jim McCafferty’s team jumped out of the gate with a 10-1 record and accepted a NIT bid at the time. Then things started to fall apart. XU lost 10 of its last 15 regular season games and was asked by the NIT selection committee if it wished to withdraw from the tourney. McCaffery answered with an empathetic “NO!”
This set the stage for Xavier’s Cinderella story, a championship which Sports Magazine called “one of the greatest upsets in basketball history.”
Most people thought the Musketeers stay in New York would be a short one. They were seeded last. The underdog Musketeers struggled in the first game, falling behind 16-3, XU came back to beat Nigaara 95-86, and went on to defeat Bradley 76-62 and St. Bonaventure 72-53 on its way to the NIT Championship game.
Three straight upsets put the Musketeers into the finals against a highly favored Dayton on national TV.
Hank Stein, who was named Tourney MVP, took control as the game went to overtime at 67-all.He helped the Musketeers put together a 7-2 run, giving them a 74-69 advantage. XU held on for a 78-74 win, becoming the first college basketball team in Ohio to win a major National Championship. For the third straight game, Xavier had the hot hand, shooting 53 percent from the field. Stein (23) led the scoring parade while Ducky Castelle added 19. Four Musketeers were added to the ALL-Tournament team, including MVP Hank Stein. Joe Viviano, Ducky Castelle and Tony Olberding joined Stein as ALL-NIT selections.
The Cinderella story was complete. It was time for the celebrations.