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NCAA's unpredictable tournament; tennis handshakes

If the NCAA's basketball tournament committee has correctly seeded everyone, Houston, Louisville, St. John's, and Virginia will emerge as this season's Final Four. Realistically, that probably won't happen, and if it should, nobody will be more flabbergasted than the tournament officials involved in the selections.

The competition is just too balanced for form to prevail. Just look at what happened last year, when Middle Tennessee upset powerful Kentucky in the opening round, or two years ago when St. Joseph's knocked off top-rated DePaul. It's not hard to understand why some favorites get the jitters, not when one ''off'' game means sayanora in this single-elimination playoff.

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Houston and Louisville were in last year's Final Four along with Georgetown and eventual champion North Carolina. This quartet conceivably could enjoy a reunion in Albuquerque April 2, but history indicates few teams make the semifinals back-to-back. Since the end of the 1960s, the only schools to do it have been UCLA and North Carolina, which lost to Indiana in the championship game the year before last.

To some degree, North Carolina is an enigma this time around. With two All-Americans in Sam Perkins and Michael Jordan, the 8th-ranked Tar Heels have the talent to defend their title. But North Carolina has been rather erratic, losing to North Carolina State in the recent Atlantic Coast Conference tournament and dropping three straight games during one regular-season juncture.

* Does the traditional post-match handshake still belong in tennis? Barry Tarshis, writing in Tennis magazine, thinks not. He contends that the handshake is basically a forced gesture, one that doesn't come naturally to the defeated player. He suggests that a pre-match handshake, such as occurs in basketball, would be more acceptable. Perhaps so, but the current post-match etiquette still seems worth keeping.Whether genuine or not, it supports an atmosphere of civility and politeness that some would erode. The gesture makes both winner and loser act with some consideration for his opponent.

* John Elway's destination in the National Football League remains a mystery. Baltimore owns the top draft pick, but may be willing to trade the rights to the Stanford quarterback. One team rumored to be interested in him is San Diego. The Chargers have been led by record-setting passer Dan Fouts, but he has become a free agent and may demand more than San Diego wants to pay, not that Elway would come cheap.

* For Johnny Miller, a golfer who always seems to start the year better than he ends it, the best of 1983 could be yet to come. He won the Inverrary Classic the other week in Florida, and now is looking ahead to the major championships. Each will be played on a course where he's experienced success.

The first of these is the Masters in April, which is always played in Augusta , Ga. Though Johnny has never won there, he has finished second three times.

The remaining ''grand slam'' events move around, and each stops at the scene of some Miller triumph. The US Open will be played at Oakmont in Pittsburgh, where Miller won that title, his first major victory, in 1973. Then it's on to the British Open at Royal Birkdale in England, where he won his only British crown in 1976.In August the PGA Championship will be held at the Riviera Country Club, where he captured the Los Angeles Open in 1980. Touching Other Bases

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* Does the traditional post-match handshake still belong in tennis? Barry Tarshis, writing in Tennis maganzine, thinks not. He contends that the handshake is basically a forced gesture, one that doesn't come naturally to the defeated player. He suggests that a pre-match handshake, such as occurs in basketball, would be more acceptable. Perhaps so, but the current post-match etiquette still seems worth keeping. Whether genuine or not, it supports an atmosphere of civility and politeness that some would erode. The gesture makes both winner and loser act with some consideration for his opponent.

* John Elway's destination in the National Football League remains a mystery. Baltimore owns the top draft pick, but may be willing to trade the rights to the Stanford quarterback. One team rumored to be interested in hin is San Diego. The Chargers have been led by record-setting passer Dan Fouts, but he has become a free agent and may demand more than San Diego wants to pay, not that Elway would come cheap.

* For Johnny Miller, a golfer who always seems to start the year better than he ends it, the best of 1983 could be yet to come. He won the Inverrary Classic the other week in Florida, and now is looking ahead to the major championships. Each will be played on a course where he's experienced success.

The first of these is the Masters in April, which is always played in Augusta , Ga. Though Johnnny has never won there, he has finished second three times.

The remaining ''grand slam'' events move around, and each stops at the scene of some Miller triumph. The US Open will be played at Oakmont in Pittsburgh, where Miller won that title, his first major victory, in 1973. Then it's on to the British Open at Royal Birkdale in England, where he won his only British crown in 1976. In August the PGA Championship will be held at the Riviera Country Club, where he captured the Los Angeles Open in 1980.