MEMO TO SELF: Figure out who can win NCAA basketball tournament. But, whoa, it's hard enough to figure out what the schools are. Is it Robert Mason and George Morris, or the other way around? Or are Mason and Morris the authors of Propositions 42 and 48? What's the difference among East Tennessee State, Middle Tennessee State and Tennessee Ernie State? The first two were invited to play in Nashville, and the third wasn't invited at all. Neither were Connecticut and New Mexico. Very confusing. Maybe I'll try to figure out who can't win the tournament, instead. How? Alphabetical order.
A. Alabama. Because Crimson Tide coach Wimp Sanderson won't schedule South Alabama, which Alabama faces in the first round.
B. Boise State. Because the Broncos weren't invited. In one of the West subregionals, it's Idaho that plays at Boise State, not Boise State at Boise State.
C. Clemson. Football.
March 20, 1989
D. Duke. Because of Danny Ferry. We're allowed only one Danny per decade. The other one (Manning of Kansas) won the Danny national championship last year.
E. Evansville. The Aces' first-round opponent, Oregon State, will not let retiring coach Ralph Miller go without one last NCAA victory.
F. Florida. Too many tennis balls on the court (see Gators versus Vanderbilt, Jan. 25).
G. Georgia Tech. Plays Texas to play Missouri to play Syracuse to play Illinois. In the immortal words of Yellow Jacket coach Bobby Cremins, "Are you kidding?"
H. The Hall, as in Seton. Coach P.J. Carlesimo has initials for his name and a Smith Brothers beard for his statement. One gimmick? O.K. Both? Never happen.
I. Indiana. So Bob Knight coached the hell out of the Hoosiers. He only deigned to travel the 16 million miles to the desert because he thought he was going to fight George Patton. When he finds out it's George Mason, he may bench all five starters and eat that ugly red sweater.
J. Jay Burson of Ohio State. Another absentee, and that's a shame. My player of this year—and a lot of others.
K. Kansas. Probation.
L. LSU. With Knight's courtside phone-smashing outburst in their '87 tournament meeting still rankling Tiger coach Dale Brown, Brown would love to dial CJ (freshman star Chris Jackson) against Indiana in a second-round game. But LSU may not get past UTEP in its opener.
M. Michigan, Minnesota. Big Ten. No defense.
N. Notre Dame. Because coach Digger Phelps gave up boutonnieres.
O. Oklahoma. Coach Billy Tubbs has got a mad on because the NCAA sent the Sooners to play in Nashville, "out of our natural habitat."
P. Pittsburgh, Providence. Relocate these outfits on the Left Coast, and they're Portland and Gonzaga.
Q. Quinnipiac. Oops, Division II.
R. Rutgers. Would have to whip Iowa and then, probably, N.C. State (whose coach, Jim Valvano, is a Rutgers man) to get to "home" court in New Jersey's Meadowlands.
S. Stanford versus Siena. A match made in heaven, or at least in Greensboro, N.C., between two teams that used to be called the Indians. For old times' sake, they ought to play it outdoors on a reservation. It would lower the measles risk, too.
T. Texas. The Lady Longhorns are still better.
U. UCLA, UNLV. Relocate them to the Beast Coast, and they're Niagara and Canisius.
V. Vanderbilt. What can you expect from a team whose coach, C.M. Newton, will turn into the Kentucky athletic director on April Fools' Day?
W. West Virginia. Did not play a team in the Top 20. Lost to Penn State by 16 points. From Major Harris to major fraud.
X. Xavier. Must play Michigan in opener to get to Alabama to get to North Carolina. Hey, coach Pete Gillen, wouldn't you rather watch the Reds' spring training, anyway?
Y. Yo! McNeese State, Ball State, Colorado State, Iowa State, Memphis State. Great to see you fellas in such great states. But, yo! Impossible!
Z. Zavier. See X.
Down the stretch Georgetown, Arizona and Illinois have taken on the look of champions. They'll be joined in the battle for Seattle by a dark horse out of the Southeast, Florida State. I picked the Hoyas to win the championship before Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo blocked the first of their 222 shots. When Georgetown coach John Thompson came clean with the stunning revelation that Mourning gobbles too many Gummi Bears, that cinched it. I know Gummi Bears. My family has known Gummi Bears. Mourning is no Gummi Bear. But he and Mutombo, both first-year players, may be gumming up the works in this tournament for years to come.