Shanoff's WUC: Zags, Pats, AI, Greinke, BCS

Today's Calls: Kansas vs. Michigan State, AI vs. NYC, LeBron vs. the NFL, Zack Greinke vs. John Lackey, Charlie Weis vs. Dick Jauron, Bill Hancock vs. the BCS and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: All those college basketball games over the last 24 hours, and the takeaway/hangover was a perfect tip-off to the season: Check your assumptions. ↵

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↵Leading up to the season's start last week, there was an obvious top tier of teams, which included Kansas, Michigan State and Kentucky. ↵

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↵But if the KU and MSU escapes last night -- and Kentucky's on Monday -- are any indication, no fan of a top team should consider their trip to the Final Four to be a lock. ↵

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↵Playing with home-court (or home-ish) advantage, Kansas and Michigan State culminated "24 Hours of Hoops" by nearly getting knocked off by unranked teams. ↵

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↵Now, that might indicate that Memphis and Gonzaga were much better than the pundits gave them credit for. But the Jayhawks and Spartans also didn't look dominant. ↵

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↵I'm not saying that they aren't two of the Top 5 most talented teams in the country, even if they didn't look like it last night. But if they can get pushed wire-to-wire by a couple of teams expected to be non-factors, what's going to happen in March when they play better teams who are at the top of their games? ↵

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↵The college hoops regular season is the least meaningful in sports, but throughout the year there are results that you file away for when you fill out your brackets on Selection Sunday. ↵

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↵If -- like me -- you had already penciled Kansas, Michigan State and Kentucky into the final 48 hours of the college hoops season, you may want to pay attention to their close calls from the last 48 hours of the college hoops season. ↵

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↵Belichick, Cont'd: So after two full days of hand-wringing, shouting, criticism (and even a little sensible analysis), how does Bill Belichick feel about the aftermath of "4th-and-2?" He doesn't. (And that's kind of the point.) ↵

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↵NFL Must-Read: Mike Tunison's Designed Rush, weighing in on "4th-and-2" (pro-decision, anti-analysis) and digging into tomorrow night's Dolphins-Panthers game. ↵

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↵AI in NYC? The Knicks brass aren't ruling it out. Here's why AI in NY makes sense: If the Knicks aren't going to win this season -- and they aren't -- at least they can be fun to watch. And no one in the NBA is more fun to watch than Iverson. ↵

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↵Must-Read: Shoals on AI. ↵

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↵Wishful Thinking: LeBron talking about playing in the NFL is the new LeBron talking about the attractiveness of New York for the 2010 free-agent market. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points ↵

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↵• No way LA was losing three straight. ↵

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↵• Look who's over .500! ↵

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↵• Upstart Suns beat upstart Rockets. ↵

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↵• 1st win: For Jeff Bower. ↵

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↵• Injuries: Nelson out 4-6 weeks. ↵

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↵MLB Award Season: Zack Greinke won the AL Cy and all is right with the world. His dominant, award-worthy season was probably my favorite baseball story line of 2009. ↵

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↵When it rains ... : MLB is going to give the 2012 All-Star Game to Kansas City. (Now, the real question: Will Greinke be pitching in it in a Royals uniform?) ↵

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↵Today's Award: AL/NL Managers. Mike Scioscia and Jim Tracy are the presumptive favorites. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Remember last winter when the Nats were a player for Mark Teixeira? (The notion now seems so quaint.) Now they are purportedly in the hunt for John Lackey. Or at least they are saying they are. ↵

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↵Of course, so is everyone else: Lackey is the hottest FA pitcher on the market. So it's pretty costless for the Nats to put themselves in the mix. Even if the Nats are all talk with no action, at least it gives their fans something to focus on in the offseason; that's better than nothing. The Nats, I'm sure, recognize that. Then, as with Tex, they can say, "Well, at least we tried!" ↵

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↵More: Teams can now negotiate directly with Roy Halladay (they still have to complete a deal with the Jays to swap for him). ... The Angels have no interest in Matt Holliday? ... Plenty of interest in John Smoltz. ↵

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↵PED Scandal Watch: Dwayne Bowe suspended for using diuretics to "lose weight" during training camp. The NFL ain't suspending star players because they're popping a Dexatrim to shed a few summer pounds. ↵

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↵Coaching Carousel: Dick Jauron is out in Buffalo. Think anyone will notice? ↵

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↵Weis Watch: Charlie says that if the decision was already made to axe him at the end of the season, he'd know. Whether he's posturing or actually believes that, it's just one more typical strategic blunder by Weis. ↵

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↵CFB Recruiting: Why did top CB recruit Joshua Shaw (Palmdale, CA) commit to Florida? Two words: Joe Haden. Haden came to UF with zero CB experience, and will be the 1st CB taken in the 2010 NFL Draft. Oh, and since he's leaving early, his spot is open for Shaw. (Meyer showed he is fearless about starting talented true freshmen at CB in '07 with Haden and in '08 with Janoris Jenkins.) ↵

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↵Conspiracy Theories: Great post by Brian Cook about a new study showing evidence that college hoops refs adjust their calls in ways that have little to do with the actual play. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "A playoff is just not right for college football." -- New BCS executive director (and chief spokesperson) Bill Hancock. Don't hold your breath for a playoff, folks. ↵

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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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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