was that the tournament started while 6 conferences still were concluding their regular seasons and the ACC was having its conference tournament (the only one in existence at the time). Those 7 conference champions each were seeded straight to the Sweet 16 on a regional basis: the ACC champ to the East Regional, the Big Ten and SEC to the Mideast, the Big Eight and Missouri Valley to the Midwest, and the Pac-8 and the West Coast Athletic Conference (now the WCC) to the West. Conferences like the SWC and WAC had to play on the tournament's opening Saturday, just like the MAC, Ohio Valley, etc. The East region had 7 teams (6 playing in 3 games on the opening Saturday) and the other 3 regions had 6 each (4 playing in 2 games on the opening Saturday; no Sunday games until 1977 or 1978).
On the first day of the 1974 NCAAs, ND destroyed Austin Peay, 108-66, while Indiana and Michigan won their regular season finales to end in a tie for the Big Ten championship. In those days, each conference got only one bid, so the Big Ten was decided in a one-game playoff the following Monday night at a neutral site -- Champaign, Illinois. IU was favored, but the Skunkweasels pulled the upset, and three nights later they stunned a 25-2 ND team in the Mideast Regional semifinal.