Opening tip: Turn off TV if you don't like them


Yes, tourney hoops were all over your telly today, beginning at the crack of noon, with Channel 45 carrying the quarterfinal doubleheaders of the ACC at 12 and 7 p.m. and WOR (cable) doing the same with the Big East. That should relieve some of the tension that built up in the legions who classified it as downright unethical that the Towson State-Hofstra game for the ECC title the other night wasn't on at least two networks in prime time.

Actually, if you're not into slam dunks, buzzer-beaters and timeouts to "ice" the shooter, this might be a good weekend to go on Lenten retreat or sign up for a whitewater trip down the Colorado River as the pickings are pretty skimpy otherwise.

For instance, tomorrow ABC has the Florida Derby and Martin Buser winning the Iditarod Sled Dog Race the other day at 4:30 p.m., there's the PGA Tour stop on NBC and world amateur champion challenge boxing on HBO at 9 p.m. Scoop! Charlsie Cantey will pick Derby favorite Dance Floor and at least three other horses.

Sunday, NBC has the NBA version of basketball (no pivot foot required) at noon before engaging in a taped figure skating show competition against CBS later on.

The weekend is all set up to make the NCAA tourney selection show at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at least as large as the show to follow ("60 Minutes"). And this is when Billy Packer really shines, the star commentator picking at least 32 of the 64 teams selected to make the Final Four while relegating the others to the "strong darkhorse" category.

If you want to hear the best talk about the impending tourney, try CBS Radio, where Cawood Ledford hosts a call-in show from 7 to 10 p.m.

Oh, also tonight, Channel 2 has the Orioles vs. Texas (7 p.m.) and tomorrow the Washington Capitals are playing the Philadelphia Flyers on Channel 20. Slashes, cross-checks and raised sticks at 11 a.m. (no misprint); oh well, it figures to be no more violent than the usual Saturday morning cartoons.

* Next Thursday and Friday, CBS will do quadruple-headers (from noon until after midnight) before doing away with an early ++ evening break for happy talk and showing games from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. And you thought the Winter Olympics resembled a Chinese water torture.

* Devout sailors received a bit of a scare recently when the Annapolis Capital indicated that NBC had decided to drop yachting from its coverage of the Summer Olympics in Barcelona come July. Not true, says the Peacock, which will be supplementing the usual glut of network shows (and commercials) with 500 hours of pay-per-view cable coverage dubbed "Triplecast."

"Because there is 2,200 hours of competition at the Olympics," explained spokeswoman Ellen Cooper, "we have designated 15 sports for extensive coverage on the three cable stations. But we're certainly not going to completely disregard the other sports."

Listed for "no cutting back and forth" treatment by Triplecast are the most popular sports: swimming, boxing, track and field, gymnastics, basketball, water polo, soccer, cycling, baseball, equestrian, diving, tennis, volleyball and wrestling plus a few of the offspring of these activities.

"There will be ample time to check on sailing, archery, fencing, table tennis, weightlifting and soon," assured Cooper.

* Wait just a minute! The Montreal Expos got rid of their spring training radio announcer because he doesn't speak French? That's weird, considering he's been on the job for 10 years doing the games out of West Palm Beach. Besides, how much parlez vous Francaise-ing does Ken Singleton do?

* Three NHL teams, two of them defending Stanley Cup final participants Pittsburgh and Minnesota, are going the pay-per-view route for the playoffs. After their slovenly fourth-place campaigns, however, the question is whether the Pens and North Stars faithful will go for the $20-per-game tariff.

* Jim McKay celebrated his 100th "Thoroughbred Connection" syndicated radio show recently, and not once has he interviewed a horse, although many of them are at least as interesting as some athletes. McKay's centennial was a five-part, week-long talk with rap star Hammer, which begs the question, with his involvement with the Atlanta Falcons and the Oaktown Stable, when does this guy get a chance to rap?

* You gotta love the slogan for the TVKO pay-per-view fight of the month battle between Boom-Boom Mancini and Greg Haugen April 3: "Tough Guys Don't Dance." Understand Steve Martin is suing, just like Art Buchwald did for "Coming to America."

* Boy, what a kick in the pants it was for no network to pick up the ACC tournament. What happened? CBS is doing the Big East, NBC departed college hoops a couple of weeks ago with a whimper and ABC didn't want to lay out the bucks. Might be time for Foxie to open up a sports department.

Not only does ESPN have the ACC with the final Sunday at 1 p.m., it then goes split for the Big Eight and SEC showdowns. Considering the teams likely to be involved, it well might qualify as the best set of games until Minneapolis and the Final Four.

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