The last time I went around making predictions, I almost ended up looking for recipes for crow. I had proclaimed that the Oakland Athletics were going to take the Series over the Mets in six. Going into the sixth game, the Mets were leading, three games to two, and I was sweating blood.
Luckily, the A s pulled the title out in seven in spite of the tenacious Mets and the pugnacious Charlie Finley, and I did not have to eat crow or hear from a hundred New Yorkers how they knew the Mets would win.
So for an encore, I'm going to stick with my go-ACC stance and pick the Carolina State to beat either Marquette or Kansas and win the NCAA championship. Oh yeah, they'll also beat the ten-time champ UCLA in the semis to get to the finals.
State rampaged undefeated through its regular season ACC schedule, dispatching both fourth-ranked Maryland and seventh-ranked North Carolina twice, and then took the Atlantic Coast Conference title in overtime over Maryland, 103-100, in the southern version of Russian roulette, otherwise known as the ACC post season tournament. State's only loss this year was in an uninspired game with the UCLA'ns that featured David Thompson, the best college player in America, playing his worst game of year.
Leading the Wolfpack, of course, is Thompson, the player who inspired one pro scout to say that he was "one of the ten best basketball players in America-college or pro." His supporting cast includes one of the tallest and one of the shortest men playing collegiate ball. The tallest is Tom Burleson, a better than adequate, if not great, 7 ft., 4 in. center and the shortest is a ball-hawking guard in Monty Towe, all of 5 ft., 51/2 in. With Thompson as the middle man around this odd couple, State has won all but one game in two years, a better record than the UCLA Bruins.
The Bruins, on the other hand, have had to struggle merely to win the Pacific Eight conference crown, winning on the last day of the season in a game over cross-town rival USC. In back-to-back games this year, they lost to Oregon and Oregon State, in addition to being upset by Notre Dame.
The pride of the Bruins is 6 ft. 11 in. All-Everything center Bill Walton. Walton, the only red-headed Goliath around, has turned in some of the most impressive games played by a collegiate star including last year's NCAA finals when he dropped in 21 of 22 shots from all over the field and a couple from what appeared to be several rows up in the stands to lead the UCLA'ns to the championship over upstart Memphis State. But this year, in what is supposed-to-be-wonder-year of the Bruins, Walton and All-American teammate Keith Wilkes looked at times as if they were playing with four left hands.
In the NCAA regionals last week, UCLA took three overtimes to thump Dayton's title hopes in the western half, while NC State cruised through the playoff games with little trouble and almost without breaking into a sweat.
Against Providence, Thompson tossed in an amazing 40 points to lead the Pack to a quick victory and in the Pitt game, the Thompson-less Wolfpack thrashed the hapless Pennsylvanians by 28 points. Indeed, if Norm Sloan, the State coach, hadn't put in the water boy, two cheerleaders as well as both sons, ages nine and fourteen, at the end of the game, it would have been by 50.
The Pack has another big advantage in its encounter this weekend--that is the home court edge. Now Greensboro, the site of the tournament, is not technically State's home court, but it is only a half hour down the road from Raleigh and believe me, that is going to be as partisan a crowd as any you can imagine.
It doesn't really matter which team wins the Kansas-Marquette game since the national championship will be decided on Saturday in the pines of North Carolina in the Bruins-Wolfpack match. Now I heard this real good recipe in which you take a deep frier and a plucked crow and.....
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