- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2007

No fewer than 104 Division I basketball teams won 20 or more games this season, shattering the previous record of 78.

Guess we know now why there’s a national obesity problem. I mean, even college hoops is addicted to cupcakes.

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Something’s wrong when there are 104 20-game winners in D-1 basketball and none in major league baseball.

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Maybe it’s time to put hoops coaches on pitch counts — that is, limit the number of recruiting pitches they can give each year. Then the talent would be distributed even more evenly, and you wouldn’t have all these teams with 20 victories.

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Remember the year Villanova had only 16 wins and still got an at-large berth? (Specifically, 1991, when the Wildcats went 16-14, tied for seventh in the Big East and — hard to imagine today — wound up a 9-seed. Of course, this was before the nation was swept up in Mid-Major Mania.)

• • •

Initial observations on the NCAA tournament:

• Watching Washington State waylay Oral Roberts the other day, I had this irrepressible urge to shout “More Cowgill!”

• Am I the only one who thinks Texas A&M; and Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi should have been matched in the play-in game? Sorry, Aggies and Islanders, but only one entrant per university system.

• • •

Speaking of which, I’ve never been exactly sure what the A and M stand for. Is it Alpha Males?

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That was quite a display Wisconsin’s Kammron Taylor put on against the Corpus Christis, by the way, scoring all 24 of his points in the last 11 minutes. You know, now that the Dukies have been eliminated, maybe Taylor could borrow their cheering section; he could rename them the Kammron Krazies.

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The Bela Lugosi Award goes to Seth Greenberg, the pasty-white Virginia Tech coach, who looks like he hasn’t seen sunlight since the start of preseason drills.

Memo to Seth: After this is all over, do yourself a favor and go catch some rays. You’ve earned it, big guy.

• • •

There are so many newcomers to major-college basketball (no joke: I played against Albany when it was a D-3 school) that I checked to make sure Belmont University, Georgetown’s first victim, wasn’t a new name for Belmont Abbey College. Belmont Abbey, you see, is where the late, great Al McGuire got his first head-coaching job.

Turns out Al’s old school, a Division II operation, is located in North Carolina, while Belmont U. is in Nashville.

“First time I saw Al,” Hubert Mizell once wrote in the St. Petersburg Times, “was in Jacksonville, my boyhood town, when he was working the basketball boonies at Belmont Abbey College in the early ‘60s. McGuire’s kids were struggling, losing to the JU Dolphins that evening. But the game was only at midpoint.

“Al became so furious at [the] refs that he ordered the Abbey players off the floor. They never came back, dressing, leaving and forfeiting. I wondered if we’d ever again see that wild man McGuire.

“Oh, did we.”

• • •

Don’t worry about Chief Illiniwek, the Illinois mascot who was forced to hang up his headdress. Rumor has it the federal government is going to give him his own casino.

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According to Sports Illustrated, “unanimous” all-ACC selection Tyler Hansbrough is learning Swahili at North Carolina.

Talk about a gut course. I mean, would anybody know if he wasn’t learning Swahili?

• • •

Well, all the results are in, and the team that was the biggest no-show in the tournament, sorry to say, was our own George Washington Colonials. GW made a nice run at the end of the season to sneak away with the A-10 tourney title, but its 77-44 fold-up against Vanderbilt in the NCAAs was one of the all-time stinkers. Not to lay it on too thickly, but the Commodores had enough points to win (45) with 38 seconds left in the first half. That’s right, Vandy could have spent the last 20-plus minutes just playing defense.

The next four lamest efforts: 2. Weber State (70-42 loser to UCLA) — A Lorenzo Mata dunk gave the Bruins 44 points with 17:39 to play.

3. Albany (84-57 loser to Virginia) — The Cavaliers reached 58 with 15:49 remaining.

4. Niagara (107-67 loser to Kansas) — KU hit the 68 mark with 14:27 to go.

5. Jackson State (112-69 loser to Florida) — The defending champs scored their 70th point with 13:29 left.

• • •

How’s this for irony? A man brandishes a knife at Pacman Jones in a bowling alley — and yet it’s the Tennessee Titans who might wind up cutting him.

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Elsewhere in the NFL, the Bears’ Tank Johnson was sentenced to four months for a probation violation stemming from his December weapons arrest. Johnson failed to sway the judge, apparently, when he said, “I don’t believe I’m a man who belongs in jail.”

Maybe he’ll have better luck when he tells his cellmate, “I don’t believe a 300-pound defensive tackle belongs in the top bunk.”

• • •

Padres southpaw David Wells, to the San Diego Union-Tribune, on returning for his 21st major-league season: “I’m just a squirrel in his world, trying to get a nut.” Actually, Boomer, you’re just a nut trying to squirrel away a few more bucks before retirement.

• • •

Alan Eagleson — embezzled pension funds.

Bob Goodenow — refused to wake up and smell the salary cap.

Ted Saskin — suspected of reading players’ e-mails.

Who are NHLers going to choose as their next union head, G. Gordon Liddy?

• • •

Memo to Saskin: If things don’t work out at the Players Association, there’s always Hewlett-Packard.

• • •

I’m beginning to think that, as an indicator of career trajectory, “Dancing With the Stars” is this generation’s “Hollywood Squares.”

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And finally … Who would have believed that Clyde Drexler, who debuts on “Dancing” tomorrow night, would ever be compared with Charley Weaver?

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