Shanoff's W.U.C.: Wake-Duke, SB 43, L.T.

Today's Calls: Wake vs. Duke, Cards vs. Steelers, Mo Williams vs. LeBron, Kirk Radomski vs. Dwight Gooden, L.T. vs. the Chargers and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Are you ready for the Big Game? ↵

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↵Wait: I'm talking about Duke vs. Wake Forest tonight — what are YOU thinking of? ↵

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↵Actually, even though Duke-Wake may very well be the Game of the Year in college basketball — it's certainly in the Top 5 — it underscores how utterly meaningless college basketball's regular season is, at least between teams near the top of the polls. ↵

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↵Both Duke and Wake — throw UNC and the Big East's Big Nine, for good measure — will be judged not on the outcome of tonight's game, but on how far they get in the NCAA Tournament in two months. ↵

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↵But their inclusion in the tournament itself is a foregone conclusion. That means our expectations — their expectations — shouldn't be concerned at all with their poll-jockeying in January. Duke could win or lose tonight — who cares? It won't change their expected performance in March. ↵

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↵Say this for college football: The championship system is a mess, but at least the regular season is outrageously meaningful, week in and week out. ↵

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↵As a college hoops fan, I will totally be watching tonight's game, but only looking for clues as to which team may break through ... in late March, when it actually matters. ↵

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↵Otherwise, if you want a game of actual consequence this week, keep your eye on the only real "Big Game" this week. ↵

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↵Media Daze: Here's a good rule — if a "journalist" "working" at the "news event" is, themselves, the focus of attention and interviews, then they are a gimmick. That holds true for transvestites (there's always one); kids; idiot late-night TV show "correspondents; and Arthur Murray dance instructors. ↵

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↵If you want to see the most awesome collection of Super Bowl XLIII Media Day archetypes collected in one place — with photo evidence! — then you have to check out Chris Mottram's coverage, which is spot-on. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, as usual, the biggest crush of Media Day "reporting" was centered around the two QBs, with the cliched story lines hardening around them with every question: For Kurt Warner, his age and his faith; for Ben Roethlisberger, his maturity since his previous Super Bowl experience. ↵

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↵CBB: Wake vs. Duke. There have been a couple of "Games of the Year" so far this year — this one might turn out to be the biggest. ↵

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↵The Big East's weekly "Game of the Year" is a big wash. We know UNC is a contender — and they have already lost to Wake. ↵

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↵But Wake and Duke are the top-of-the-ranking X-factors — is Duke really No. 1, or did they back into it? Is Wake for real as a contender? They have already beaten UNC; a win here would confirm it. ↵

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↵Yeesh: What happened to Wisconsin? ↵

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↵Kelvin Sampson can appeal all he wants: What school in their right mind would hire him to be their basketball coach? ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: Mo Williams for Offseason Move of the Year? After a Cavs win like last night — Mo had a career-high 43, LeBron had a triple-double — that feels right. But, for better or worse, unless the Cavs knock off the Celtics and win the East, it's all superficial. ↵

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↵(In-Season Move of the Year? How about Boris Diaw to the Bobcats. No, Charlotte hasn't surged into playoff contention, but Diaw has gotten even better since leaving the Suns system that supposedly made him so valuable. Last night: 23 pts-9 reb-9 ast in the Bobcats' unlikely "Win-of-the-Year" over the Lakers in 2OT.) ↵

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↵MLB Scandal: Who do you believe — Kirk Radomski or Dwight Gooden and David Justice? Unfortunately, while I don't want to believe Radomski, the recent history of baseball has given fans no reason to believe the players without built-in skepticism. ↵

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↵Speaking of believability, who believes that A-Rod is "not bothered at all" by the stuff Joe Torre wrote about him — sorry, Tom Verducci said about him ... wait: WHO wrote it? — in Torre's tell-all. I'm sure it stung A-Rod — based on the book's armchair psychology, it sounds like A-Rod loved "father-figure" types and wanted Torre's affection, even if he didn't get it. (That said: A-Rod has been ripped for so long, at this point, what's another critic who calls him a needy wuss?) ↵

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↵CFB Recruiting: Tajh Boyd going to Clemson. Then again, this is his third "commitment" of his short recruiting career. Tiger fans, this is a big coup, but I wouldn't count on it until Boyd steps foot on campus as an enrolled student. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I'll be an All-Pro." — LaDainian Tomlinson to Sporting News. Read Albert Breer’s whole interview with L.T. here. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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