In this era of sports upsets, look for UNLV to fall, too


Logic says Nevada-Las Vegas is a lock to repeat as NCAA basketball champion. The Runnin' Rebels have it all -- great talent, experienced coaching, a team that's been there, the confidence that comes from a 44-game win streak.

But these are not logical times. At least not where sure things in sports are concerned.

The A's, remember, were a sure thing to repeat as world champions -- but Cincinnati won the World Series. The 49ers were going to three-peat, but they didn't even get to the Super Bowl. The Giants are NFL champs. Steffi Graf was set to rule women's tennis for years, but Monica Seles is now No. 1.

UNLV, it says here, will be upset Saturday by Duke. OK, so Vegas beat Duke by 30 in the title game last year. That, too, can work in Duke's favor.

This time coach Mike Krzyzewski has all week to prepare for the defending champs. Duke can beat UNLV's more talented athletes the same way the Johns Hopkins lacrosse team beat Syracuse's athletically superior defending NCAA champions last Saturday -- by outsmarting them.

* Despite the Orioles' public utterings about not being opposed to Washington's getting a National League expansion franchise, the O's couldn't possibly want another team 40 miles away. They just can't come right out and say it.

Orioles management is simply trying not to alienate the fans in an area from which nearly one-fourth of its own attendance comes.

* New Orioles pitcher Jeff Robinson may be wishing he could take back something he said when he was introduced at a news conference at the stadium this winter. "I won't go to the bullpen," he said, pointing out that he's 10 games over .500 (36-26) in four years as a starter with the Tigers. There were some eyebrows raised when he said it.

There are more eyebrows being raised now. When Robinson was pounded for nine hits and six runs Sunday by the White Sox in his fourth start this spring, his earned run average soared to 7.71. The way things are going, Robinson had better take anything the Orioles offer. They'll be slow to give up on him, though, since they gave up Mickey Tettleton to get him.

* Jamie Hopkins asks if the Orioles are selling tickets for only 79 dates because the last game is sold out as well as the opener. Answer: Tickets are not yet on sale for the final game at Memorial Stadium. Stand by for an announcement from the club.

Says Hopkins: "I want to be there to see the ol' park shut down. I had a tear in my eye the day Brooks [Robinson] retired. This'll be something to remember, too."

* If you were impressed by the recent layout on croquet in Baltimore Magazine and think you'd like to give the game a whirl, you're in luck. The Maryland Croquet Society, whose members posed for the pictures, is looking for new people. Call 467-9020. I know Ann Corcoran and Bill Jensen in the group, and they couldn't be nicer.

* WPIX-TV in New York learned a lesson from the Detroit radio station that announced last fall it would dump Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who once did the Oriole games here. The Harwell-Tiger affair was a public relations disaster. To avoid a similar fiasco, the New York people have reached a contract agreement with 74-year-old Phil Rizzuto for his 35th season at the mike for the Yankees. You don't mess with those old legends.

* To all you lacrosse types in Annapolis: the Touchdown Club there has lined up a good program for its annual lacrosse awards luncheon April 11 at the Naval Academy. Navy coach Bryan Matthews, Maryland's Dick Edell, Loyola's Dave Cottle and new Hall of Famer Arley Marshall are on the card. Call Dick Duden for tickets at 280-0530.

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