There's something for every area basketball fan on today's schedule, even an Eastern Eight game hosted by Maryland.
The Terrapins, of the Atlantic Coast Conference, entertain Eastern Eight leader Pittsburgh at 8 p.m. (WTTG-TV-5.) It is one of a number of games that count in league standings for the Eastern Eight team because of scheduling difficulties caused by Penn State's pullout.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Eight television game of the week -- a package that caused five league schools, including George Washington, to withdraw from the Eastern College Athletic Conference -- makes it area debut today with GW at Rutgers (WDCA-TV-20) at 2 p.m.
Rutgers is starting three freshmen, including point guard Kenny Payne and forward Kevin Black, both from Washington's Mackin High and both drawing praise from Scarlet Knight Coach Tom Young.
Other games today include:
Georgetown (10-3), finally playing somewhat near its potential after recent losses to Boston College and Drake, is on the road against a 4-6 Oral Roberts team that has lost three games to top 20 opposition and two others by a point, including an 82-81 loss at Drake. Game time is 8:30.
American U. (6-5), a 27-point winner on the road in each of its last two games, travels to East Coast Conference rival Bucknell (5-2). The Eagles, 1-1 in the ECC East, play eight of their last 13 games at home, so wins tonight and Monday at William and Mary would put them in fine shape for a good record.
Virginia, tied for first place with Clemson in the ACC at 3-0, is at North Carolina State in the Cavs' first league game on the road. The 1 p.m. contest will be televised by WJLA-TV-7, followed by the 3 p.m. North Carolina-at-Duke contest.
Howard (8-4), coming off a double-overtime upset of Dayton -- the biggest basketball victory in the school's history -- plays host to Delaware State at 8 p.m. in Burr-Gymnasium.
Navy (6-3) is at Old Dominion at 8, the Mids trying to rebound from a 20-point loss to Virginia Commonwealth.
Pitt (9-2, 3-0 in the Eastern Eight) will be playing its second straight game without 6-foot-forward Sammie Ellie, who sprained an ankle a week ago. Sam Clancy, the Panthers' 6-6, 250-pound center and best player who was hampered by the flue in an 82-61 rout with GW Wednesday night, is expected to play against the Terps tonight "unless there are severe complications," a school spokesman said yesterday.
Meanwhile, George Washington (5-3, 0-2 in league play) probably will have a new starting lineup today at Rutgers as the Colonials try for their first Eastern Eight victory.
In the 21-point rout by Pitt on Wednesday, small forward Curtis Smith, junior college transfer, was a liability on offense, a phase of the game in which the Colonials usually excel. Coach Bob Tallent has started four players at the position this season. He likely will choose between Bucky Roman and Paul Gracza, although freshman Oscar Wilmington could get a shot.
Tallent wants an offense that is able to get the ball inside to center Mike Zagardo, a 16-point scorer the last two seasons who has taken only 51 shots in eight games this season. There also is a chance that freshman Randy Davis will see extensive play at point guard, with Curt Jeffries moving to the second guard slot, where he is more comfortable.
Davis played more than 20 minutes at point guard against Pitt, although he was credited with only 10 minutes playing time in the box score. The odd-man-out in that situation has been senior Brian Magid, a sharpshooter in a slump that now has reached three games.
Rutgers is relying heavily on freshmen, including Payen, who earned a starting job four games ago and has excelled, shooting 72 percent while directing the Scarlet Knights. Black has started the entire season.
Freshmen rarely start for Young at Rutgers. In the last seven years, only three freshmen started until this season and all are in the pros -- James Bailey with Seattle, Ed Jordan with New Jersey and Hollis Copeland with New York.
The other freshman starter is 6-9 Ray Hinson, who has blocked 26 shots already. Young plays three other freshmen extensively, though junior Kevin Troy and senior Darryl Strickland take about half Rutgers' shots and average half of its points. Troy is second in the league with a 20.2 average.
Young scouted GW at Pitt and was full of praise for the two freshmen from Washington.
"We're young, but we'll be good," Young said. "It's a compliment to both of them that they are really fundamental players. They don't make mistakes and they're super kids.
"They understand the game and they're very coachable. I say that sincerely. I don't say it about many kids, but they are a pleasure. They're as sound fundamentally as any freshmen we've had since Jordan."
Jordan was a Carroll High graduate who was the playmaker of the Rutgers team that went undefeated through the regular season and into the NCAA semifinals in 1976.
Payne had been sharing the point-guard slot with sophomore Darius Griffin, the quickest of these Knights. But Young had been looking for Payne to step in all along, as he did four games ago.
As a starter, Payne is averaging 11 points a game. He leads the team in assists. Black is the team's No. 3 scorer at 8.3 points per game, and No. 2 rebounder, with 5.4.