Packer alone says Terps have a shot at No. 1 seed


Here's a news flash: Digger Phelps and Dick Vitale don't agree with Billy Packer on something about college basketball. Now, that's news right up there with the earth revolving around the sun, early man discovering fire and Burt Reynolds wearing a hairpiece.

Their bone of contention involves Maryland's chances to land a No. 1 seed when the pairings are announced Sunday for next week's NCAA tournament.

Packer, the main man at CBS, said the Terps can still earn a No. 1 seed in the East region of the NCAA tournament, even with Sunday's humbling 92-67 loss at Virginia, but it will take some work.

In Packer's humble estimation, Maryland must win this weekend's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, which likely would involve beating North Carolina in the semifinals and either Wake Forest or Virginia in the title game.

Even then, Packer says a top seed wouldn't be a certainty. A Maryland victory over North Carolina in the ACC semifinals could open the door for Connecticut to leap over the Terps for the No. 1 spot in the East.

"Maryland's game Saturday will be crucial. They could be anywhere from a potential No. 1 to a potential No. 4," Packer said the other day during a network NCAA tournament seminar.

Meanwhile, Vitale and Phelps, who will be in the ESPN studio for the exciting conclusion of "Championship Week" this week, say the Terps have no shot at a top seed, even with an ACC tournament win, thanks to Sunday's humiliation in Charlottesville.

"The way they were beaten was really ugly," said Vitale yesterday during a teleconference. "Losing like that on national television the other day, with the loss to Massachusetts in Baltimore, really hurts. Maryland has had a great year, but a No. 1 seed would be stretching it, and I think they would agree with that."

Phelps was even more blunt.

"The Virginia game really showed a lot of weaknesses," said Phelps. "Their shooting is really suspect, and Maryland right now has got that question mark about them."

By the way, Packer's announcing partner, Jim Nantz, who has developed a reputation for figuring out tournament brackets, says that UCLA, Kansas and Kentucky have already wrapped up No. 1 seeds, and that Maryland, North Carolina and Connecticut will play this weekend for the fourth top slot.

Pucks on Fox

The folks at Fox further firmed up plans for their April 2 NHL debut by announcing the selection of Mike Emrick and former New York Rangers goalie John Davidson as their lead announcing team yesterday.

Emrick, who calls New Jersey Devils games for SportsChannel-New York, and Davidson, the analyst for Rangers contests on the Madison Square Garden network, also called hockey games during the 1992 and 1994 Olympic Winter Games for CBS.

Kenny Albert, the voice of the Washington Capitals on Home Team Sports, was named to play-by-play duties for Fox, a role he filled during the NFL season.

Dunking on the Internet

CBS will take the Road to the Final Four through cyberspace starting today, when it opens up spots on Prodigy and the World Wide Web.

In what it bills as the most extensive sports-themed on-line service to date, the network will make announcers, executives and a sweepstakes available to interested viewers between now and the men's championship game on April 3.

Studio commentators Pat O'Brien and Quinn Buckner will be first up to face the public Sunday night at 7:30, just after the tournament pairings are announced.

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