Around the world, from A to Z

Everything you need to know about the college basketball season that begins tonight:

A is for the Arkansas Razorbacks, defending champs, everyone back, and they won't repeat. You watch. Something always happens to the lock teams.


B is for Bubba Bill Clinton, your No. 1 Hog-callin' hoopologist. It isn't his year, if you hadn't noticed.

C is for Coppin State. With Stephen Stewart, Sidney Goodman and Keith Carmichael back for a third season together, this could be the year for Baltimore's best team to make it to the NCAA tournament and beat someone.


D is for the Dream Team starting lineup at the Summer Olympics in 2004: Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, Joe Smith, Grant Hill, Jason Kidd.

E is for Brian Ellerbe, the new coach at Loyola, who is in a tough spot. (His team is coming off a miracle NCAA season that raises expectations, but the two players that made it happen are gone.) Go easy on him, Greyhounders.

F is for Adonal Foyle, the most amazing freshman of the year, a 6-foot-10 center who chose nonscholarship Colgate over Syracuse and Duke because his legal guardians are professors there. He plays Maryland at Cole Field House in December.

fgb,10,10 G is for the good teams I don't like this year. I don't like Duke. (Too many good players in the NBA.) I don't like North Carolina. (Something missing.) I don't like UMass even though everyone else does. (Too many D's in easy classes.)

H is for the Houston Cougars. The Phi Slamma Jamma glamour team of the '80s has fallen hard, averaging less than 3,000 fans at home, lacking a conference to play in when the Southwest folds next year. Say it ain't so, Benny Anders.

I is for Allen Iverson. He's the real deal, folks. The word at Georgetown is that it's scary how good he is.

J is for Joe, as in Maryland's Franchise Sophomore Joe Smith. There'll be a lot of talk about him moving on to the NBA after this season. And he should if he can get himself one of those $30 million jobbies they're throwing aroundlike nickels.

K is for Brent Kell of Evansville, the only Division I player who made more than 50 percent of his three-point attempts (62 of 123) last season.


L is for the lost season at Towson State, which probably would make the NCAA tournament as the champion of the Big South, except the league has lost its automatic berth.

M is for the Mid-Continent Conference and Midwestern Collegiate Conference. If you can name every team in both MCC leagues, you're watching way too much cable, sheriff.

N is for the new math of college sports. Starting in 1996, the Big Eight will have 12 teams and the Big Ten will have 11.

O is for the (seven!) opponents on Maryland's schedule ranked in the preseason Top 25 (UMass, Carolina, Duke, Cincinnati, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest).

fgb,10,10 P is for powerhouse conferences (top five, in order): ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big East, Big Eight.

Q is for the many questions you're better off not asking. Such as, "Say, how did that guy get in school?"


R is for Rollie Massimino, whose slimy shadow deal with UNLV is the hands-down winner of this year's symbol of everything wrong with sports. And he'll get another job, you watch.

S is for the St. Joseph's University Classic, a holiday tournament that was canceled because the hosts couldn't find anyone willing to play Princeton.

T is for Billy Tubbs, famous smart mouth, now coaching at TCU. Even he can't find the words to explain it.

U is for unbearably porky, which is what you'll be if you get hooked on ESPN's 199-game regular-season schedule.

V is for Dickie V himself, of course. I can't help it, I like the guy's act. The whole stupid shtick.

W is for the Westerners, the ideal nickname for East Tennessee State, of the Southern Conference's Northern Division. So named, they would become the first team in NCAA history to use all four directions at once. (Alas, they're called the Buccaneers.)


X is for Xavier, which had the gall to steal Loyola's Skip Prosser.

Y is for the yawner that is the pointless regular season. One win in the NCAA tournament is worth more than 20 during the season.

Z is for my zippy, zesty Final Four prediction: Alabama, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky. Take that and smoke it.