If Big Ten basketball truly is the greatest outside Louisville, the Big Eight took a step yesterday toward parity: Iowa State of the Eight hired away one of the architects of the Ten's preeminence, Coach Johnny Orr of Michigan.

Orr's base salary in his 12th year at Ann Arbor was $33,665; at age 52, he jumped at a six-year deal with $45,000 starting pay and beaucoup fringes to settle in Ames and set about putting Cyclone basketball on the map. His ultimate aim for the downtrodden ISU program from which Coach Lynn Nance skedaddled in February; final fourdom to match that of the envied Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten, again) and of Orr's premier Wolverine clubs that won 25 games and reached the NCAA final in 1976, then went 26-4 with a Big Ten title in '77.

Successive 15-12 campaigns -- this one ended in Charlottesville, Va., with the 79-68 NIT loss March 13 to eventual champion Virginia -- left Orr a 209-113 log for his dozen Michigan years. He leaves an opening for which he endorses Wolverine assistant Bill Frieder.

But, still, an opening.

Louisville gave its conquering Cards a champion's welcome home from Indianapolis. It got hairy for a while there, as tumult surrounded the team bus at a planned predawn rally. Fifty or 60 enthusiasts climbed atop the vehicle. "Ain't no way I'm getting off this bus," said Card guard Poncho Wright.

It was "animal farm" all night, police said, milder pursuits finding fans dancing down Muhammad Ali Boulevard. But all was well that ended well come daylight, with the team honored at city hall and flown to the state capitol in Frankfort to gather in Gov. John Y. Brown's office.

Darrell Griffith? He and Wiley Brown managed to sneak off the beleaguered bus to be whisked away by police car. The unstoppable Dr. D. eventually occupied Mayor William Stansbury's chair and fielded phone calls . . .

It all starts again Nov. 22 in Springfield, Mass., where -- we guessed it -- Louisville will face off with regular-season No. 1, DePaul; in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off . . . And ends next March 28-30 in Philadelphia's Spectrum.The dope on tickets: Send certified check or money order, $34 per admission to the two sessions, limit of four to a customer. Make check to "1981 NCAA Basketball Final" and mail to same, "c/o The Spectrum, P.O. Box 7990, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104." Caution: Orders must be postmarked April 1 -- Not before. Then don't expect to hear until June if you're in . . .

October 1978: Congress authorizes $16 million to advance U.S. Olympic-associated sports. March 1980: Zilch appropriated to date, and now -- forget it.

Already shrunk to $4 million, a requrest to help the USOC support permanent training facilities, a sports medicine program and the development of the national governing bodies for some of the minor sports all but ran aground yesterday. At a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, (D-S.C.) told Elsa A. Porter, assistant secretary of Commerce, it is highly unlikely any funds would be forth coming.

The cutbacks to balance the budget, you know . . .

Coach hired: Rickie Harris, the former Redskins speedball, leaving Howard U, football staff to join that of Willie Wood on the Canadian league's Toronto Argonauts. Wood has been good about CFL tryouts for area playing prospects, too . . .