I'm just glad that my dad no longer is coaching at Lehigh. That's the team that will play Georgetown this week in the opening round of the East Regional. The way the Hoyas have been playing lately, perhaps nobody in the NCAA tournament is in their class.
Georgetown will have no cakewalk, understand, but still has an excellent shot to become the first repeat champion since UCLA in 1972-73. Even the tournament rules seem to be in their favor.
There will be no shot clock in the tournament. You know who that helps? Well, the clock goes off and nobody will be helped more than the team who needs it the least -- Georgetown.
The teams with the short benches (Georgia Tech, Loyola of Chicago, Dayton), good guards (Michigan and Duke), strong foul shooting (North Carolina and St. John's) and the ability to chase people will have the best shot at gaining strength due to the NCAA rules.
No question the East is the toughest region of the four, with three teams who have Final Four ability. Georgetown has been the perfect horse under the perfect jockey (Coach John Thompson) this season. But Southern Methodist, even though it has been on a slide, has too much talent not to make a move. Illinois has a tough defense and improved late-season play going for it. Georgia Tech has a gutty club that gets a home-court edge in the opening rounds.
In the Southeast, you have to like Michigan, a team that has won 16 in a row against tough competition. But I also like No. 5 seed Maryland over No. 4 Louisiana State. Lefty Driesell's team had trouble winning his 500th collegiate game, but has a top player in forward Len Bias. I also like Kansas and North Carolina, even though the Tar Heels probably will have to beat Notre Dame in South Bend.
In the Midwest, Oklahoma has a relatively easy road, including playing close to home. As for Louisiana Tech, I thought that team was rated a little low by the committee (No. 5 seed) and I expect it instead of Ohio State to advance to the regional in Dallas. Duke's super guards, Johnny Dawkins and Tommy Amaker, will be helped by the absence of the clock. My fourth team, Memphis State, has too much inside in 6-foot-10 Keith Lee and 7-0 William Bedford.
As for the West, Chris Mullin and Co. have a chance to regroup, but St. John's can't look ahead, especially against the Iowa-Arkansas winner. Look for Las Vegas to take the Kentucky-Washington winner. N.C. State gets to play its early games in Albuquerque, where it won the 1983 NCAA title. My fourth team is Virginia Commonwealth because guards Rolando Lamb and Calvin Duncan should excel in the delay game.