On Wednesday night, ESPN will air one of the most historically significant college basketball games ever played — and no, it won't involve any of this year's Final Four teams. Instead, the match will feature the 1966 lineups of Texas Western and Kentucky.
This importance of the half-century old game comes not from a half-court buzzer-beater or single player's performance, but from the fact that it was the first time that a major-college team had ever started five black players in an NCAA championship game. At the height of the civil rights era and on the edge of the Mason-Dixon line, Texas Western's five black starters managed to beat the all-white Kentucky Wildcats 72-65.
“This is clearly a seminal event in the history of college basketball, and American sport, in terms of integration,” said John Wildhack, an executive vice president of ESPN. Michael Wilbon agrees, calling it the "most significant game in college basketball history."
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the watershed game, ESPN will be airing the original broadcast this Wednesday at 7:30 PM EST. As the New York Times has noted, it's the first time that the entire 16-millimeter film will be available for mass viewing. For now, here's a look at a short clip from the game: