Every season the debate is rejoined over which conference is the best in the land. While there's no sure method for resolving the question, the results of non-conference games provide the best barometer. Now that most teams have completed their nonleague schedules, the records of the major conferences look like this:
That mandate was prompted in part by an incident a few days earlier in a game at Georgia State against Mercer. Two refuse-throwing incidents resulted in Mercer's sinking three of four foul shots, and the Bears went on to win 80-78. The home fans were especially upset after the Georgia State bench claimed that in one case the roll of toilet paper had come from the Mercer section of the stands. The incident is under review by league officials.
READING WITH RAVELING
Southern Cal has a new ticket-distribution scheme, and the keys to its working are librarians and junior high students. Tickets for USC home games are given to students in exchange for academic effort in a program dreamed up by Trojan coach George Raveling. Radio station KDAY buys the tickets from USC and distributes them to L.A. school districts, which then award the tickets—11,000 will be handed out by season's end—to junior high students based on their reading accomplishments. The list of books for the program was developed by Raveling, an avid reader since childhood, and includes titles like Treasure Island, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and Silas Marner.
Says Raveling, whose library at home numbers some 1,600 books, "Reading is the greatest way to grow as an individual and to broaden your perspective in life. It takes you out of the academic environment of memorizing and forces you to expand yourself intellectually."
If his Trojans keep losing at their present pace—they were 5-16 at week's end—Raveling may want to add another title to his list: Les Misèrables.
THE PARITY'S OVER
After several weeks of one upset after another in conference play, the heavyweights played to form last week to secure their predicted positions at or near the tops of their leagues. To wit:
•Pitt, led by forward Jerome Lane's 24 points and 13 rebounds, defeated second-place Villanova 87-75 to stretch its lead in the Big East. After the game, Wildcats coach Rollie Massimino and his Panther counterpart, Paul Evans, had an angry shouting session. "He called me a very serious and dirty name," said Massimino, who planned to raise the issue with the Big East office.
•North Carolina held off Virginia 64-58 on Sunday to tie Duke for the lead in the ACC; in a home game played earlier in the week, the Heels had edged North Carolina State 75-73 in overtime. That night the final word went, as is usually the case, to Wolfpack coach Jim Valvano, who was upset with what he considered hasty timekeeping late in OT. "Time flies in Chapel Hill," he said.
•Michigan stayed within striking range of Purdue in the Big Ten by beating Indiana 92-72 in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines' big gun was the histrionic Gary Grant, who scored 24 points, combined with forward Glen Rice for some intricate midcourt high fiving and broke into a jubilant dance late in the game in front of the Hoosier bench. Said Michigan coach Bill Frieder, "Hey, if Gary Grant can help us get the crowd in the game, then he's got to do that, too. He's doing every other damn thing in the game."
LSU coach Dale Brown invited the local media to play a game of H-O-R-S-E against his players. Not surprisingly, the players won easily. Said Brown, "The purpose was for our players to see that the people criticizing them for their shooting didn't know what they were talking about." ...Portland teammates Adolphis Gaffney and Demetrius Hall are known as the Roman Legion....
Minnesota coach Clem Haskins has started a recruiting file on a promising 6'5" high school junior by the name of Patrick Knight, son of a certain Bob....
Florida A & M may have the most larcenous male-female combination in basketball in guard Aldwin Ware, who's leading Division I men in steals with 4.62 per game, and guard April Manning, who is first among the women with 4.71....
Dayton tossed up nine air balls in a 79-56 loss to Marquette....
Auburn center Jeff Moore, who was averaging 20.2 points a game when he sustained a broken hand six weeks ago, returned to action by contributing 18 points off the bench in the Tigers' 69-62 loss to Kentucky....
A racially motivated death threat forced Cincinnati coach Tony Yates to remain in his St. Louis hotel room rather than be on the floor with the Bearcats during their 80-73 loss to the Billikens....
The highest scoring team in women's basketball is Division II Hampton University, which is averaging 105.3 points a game....
The Murray State-Tennessee State game featured a matchup between the nation's No. 2 and No. 4 scorers, swingman Anthony Mason of Tennessee State and forward Jeff Martin of Murray State, respectively. Mason outgunned Martin 32 to 27, but the Racers won 78-70....
Here's a true defensive specialist for you: After holding Notre Dame guard David Rivers to only nine points—it was the first time in 31 games that Rivers had failed to score in double figures—Duke's Billy King said, "I'm going to keep a tape of this game and show it to my grandchildren."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kansas's 6'10" All-America senior forward had 39 points and seven rebounds in the Jayhawks' 82-72 triumph over Iowa State and 23 and nine in Kansas's 78-68 victory over Oklahoma State.
NORTH CAROLINA (18-3)
NC STATE (16-5)
GEORGIA TECH (17-6)