College basketball lineup will require remote control TELEVISION SPORTS


If there's a scintilla of energy remaining in your being after ACC and Big East quadruple-headers today, you might be interested in following the bouncing ball tomorrow when college hoops stages arguably its best, most competitive day of the season.

No less than 12 (count 'em) pressure-packed games between conference and otherwise long-time rivals with invitations to the biggie, the NCAA tournament, as the prize will parade across the screen between 11:30 a.m. and well past midnight.

Finalists in the Mid-America Conference draw the early morning dew assignment on ESPN, and the most pressing question at the moment is if the team meal should be scheduled before or after sunrise. Team meeting optional.

Channels 2 and 7 and ESPN have the ACC semifinals at 1:30 and 3:30, CBS is doing the Big East semis at 1:30 and 4 and Home Team Sports sends along the Big Eight at 2 and 4:30. ESPN then doubles back with title games, including the Midwestern at 5:30, the Greater Midwest at 7:30, the WAC at 9:30 and the Big Sky at midnight. HTS is picking up the Southwest championship game at 10:30 p.m.

All this plus the five conference title games slated between noon and 5 p.m. Sunday are appetizers leading up to the NCAA-CBS-ESPN version of the Academy Awards, the tourney selection show, at 6:30 p.m. The network will go for a half-hour, ESPN a full hour because Dick Vitale doesn't even get warmed up in 30 minutes. ESPN is doing a half-hour show on the women's selections and tournament draw Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

* One of the problems for sports viewers over the weekend is there's a raft of other good stuff interspersed with all the basketball. For instance, there's bowling right here in town (tomorrow, 3 p.m., Channel 13), world championship figure skating (tomorrow 1:30 and 8 and Sunday at 7 p.m. on NBC), golf, hockey, baseball, NBA hoops, horse and auto racing and the ever-gripping Iditarod sled-dog race from beautiful downtown McGrath, Alaska.

* Hey, who can blame Michael Carbajal for complaining about Jimmy Lennon Jr. being the ring announcer for his pay-per-view title defense against Humberto Gonzalez tomorrow night. Lennon drives me nuts, too, with those whiny, too-long introductions, sometimes in two languages. Besides, Carbajal's choice, Michael ("Let's Get Ready to Rumble") Buffer, is the cat's meow.

Carbajal is putting his light-flyweight crown on the line. The weight limit in this division is two Big Macs and a large fries. The top prelims also involve little guys, Jorge Paez checking out Julian Solis and Oscar De La Hoya going against Jeff Mayweather. For balance, Mike "The Giant" White takes on some heavyweight.

* Let's hear it for Channel 13's prized rake, John Buren, who just marched off with the "Sexiest Baltimore TV personality" title as voted by WMIX Radio listeners. Vince Bagli is still trying to figure out what he's been doing wrong all these years, and all the women anchors are in tears.

* Former Towson State stick standout John Blatchly makes his debut as a lacrosse commentator beside Spiro Mericus on WITH, beginning with tomorrow's Tigers-Maryland fray at 1 p.m. . . . Please, Brooks Robinson, get rid of that sigh you often emit during Oriole games on Channel 2. . . . The Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl champions tape is available for $20 by calling 1-800-635-8273.

* Today is the 30th anniversary of Muhammad Ali (nee Cassius Clay) taking a 10-round decision from Doug Jones in New York. What makes it noteworthy is Jones was the first real test for the unbeaten former Olympic champ. Maybe ABC will show a snippet of the tape from the fight tomorrow during Wide World of Sports (4:30 p.m.)

* Time was when HBO had some requirements regarding bouts it would put on under the guise of it being a championship fight. Obviously, that's passe because Riddick Bowe's next opponent, Jesse Ferguson, is about as deserving of a shot as the next large individual you pass in the street. And Bowe's first title defense against Michael Dokes was nearly as bad. Have the words "non-title bout" been stricken from the dictionary?

* Not only is a full-time golf channel being readied for cable, something called "Romance Classics," wall-to-wall love stories, will be in place this time next year. . . . Things have gone from bad to worse for the Washington Bullets, their games on radio going from powerful (50,000-watt) WTOP to nearly impossible to pick up all-sports WTEM. WTOP let its option lapse.

* After starting out with great promise, its investigative reports delivering impressively, ESPN's "Outside the Lines" has fallen into puff pieces. Last month's "Shaq's Sudden Impact" softie is being followed by a chronicle of Final Four weekend activity in New Orleans April 6. That sounds like real Sam Donaldson stuff, doesn't it?

* A huge drawback to numerous conferences staging their championship games on Monday to accommodate TV is that the gyms are virtually empty as students flee the premises after the weekend to return to class (theoretically). . . . WrestleMania IX April 4 in Las Vegas must be hurting: Hulk Hogan is coming back to join brother Brutus Beefcake for a tag-team match against Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster.

* The dates of the Stanley Cup Sunday afternoon playoff games on ABC are April 18 and 25 and May 2, 9 and 16. The holes in the network's schedule were created by the demise of the World League of American Football. . . . "NBA Inside Stuff" tomorrow (Channel 2, 11:30 a.m.) has a feature on Tom Gugliotta of the Bullets. . . . The NBA game Sunday at noon is Bulls vs. Pistons.

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