Shanoff's WUC: NCAA 96, ND, Suh, Tiger, Vols

Today's Calls: Brian Kelly vs. Notre Dame, Charlie Strong vs. Louisville, Ndamukong Suh vs. Mark Ingram, Tiger Woods vs. Gatorade, NCAA vs. Tennessee, BCS vs. Congress, Curtis Granderson vs. New York City, Mike DeCourcy vs. Dan Shanoff and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Normally, I defer to my pal Mike DeCourcy on all things college hoops. ↵

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↵But his diatribe against expanding the NCAA Tournament field of 65 to 96 demands a response: ↵

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↵• It doesn't make it too long: The Tournament is the fans' favorite event of the year. The first Thursday and Friday of the Tournament are the best weekdays of the year; this doubles them. The Sweet 16 is just as sweet if there are three rounds before it, rather than two. ↵

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↵• The season isn't too long: It would be extended by just a week, and even then, for just 16 teams out of 300-plus. ↵

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↵• The drama would be gone? Hardly. It's the NCAA Tournament, in which WHO participates isn't nearly as important as the results once the Madness begins -- upsets are still upsets. In fact, you could argue that adding a 1st-round bye for the Top 32 will produce more of the shockers we love. (BTW: CollegeRPI.com's traffic would be higher if there were 32 more teams.) ↵

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↵• The bracket would be "ruined?" Yes, just like it was when it was expanded from 8 to 16 in 1951, doubled to 32 in 1975, expanded to 40 in 1979 then again to 48 in 1980, then 64 in 1985. Mike probably thinks Maryland's exclusion in 1974 is a charming part of hoops history. ↵

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↵• I cannot be more clear: NOTHING WOULD DERAIL THE OFFICE POOL. Certainly not having to fill out a two-sided bracket sheet. (Most fans go online to fill out their brackets anyway; space isn't a constraint. And more teams means more wackiness means MORE fun around the office.) ↵

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↵• Conference tournaments will be fine: In the smallest leagues, it's not like the automatic bid for the league tournament champ still wouldn't be just as precious, and perhaps -- though it's no lock -- the regular-season champ who has a dominating season but one bad game in the conference tournament won't find their season ruined. But more likely than not the 31 extra spots would go to solid teams. If those 31 are terrible, they would be drummed out by the higher seeds, but I doubt it; this isn't exactly a 1-vs-16 lock here. (Under Mike's logic, he would presumably reduce the field to 60, eliminating the four 16-seeds and the play-in loser, because they ALWAYS lose.) ↵

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↵For Mike's kicker, he has no chance. He says that Northwestern fans wouldn't appreciate making a 96-team Tournament field, because it's not as meaningful as making the 64-team field. ↵

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↵I went to Northwestern, and I can unequivocally say -- like every other fan out there: We'll gladly take being in the 96, thanks. More Madness, please. ↵

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↵Tiger Woods Watch: It's one thing to be nationally humiliated by the revelation of what may now be double-digit extra-marital relationships. It's another thing entirely when one of your lead sponsors -- Gatorade -- cancels your name-branded sports drink. (The company says the decision has nothing to do with Tiger's recent problems. Of course that's true, but the PERCEPTION is awful.) ↵

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↵By the way, this is a pretty good column that sums up my general feeling about the Les Affaires Woods: No matter how good he might be in his sport, fans will never be able to watch him again without at least thinking "Wow, that was a LOT of affairs." He's the best golfer ever and the best athlete of our generation, but he's also now a joke. ↵

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↵Notre Dame about to hire Brian Kelly? ND fans' long nightmare is nearly over. Kelly is the best available coach in the country -- one of the Top 5 coaches in the country, period. He will have ND in a BCS-level bowl game NEXT year, with perennial appearances after that. ↵

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↵Um, why didn't ND talk with Kelly yesterday, like we all thought they were supposed to? And why is the only reporting being done on this from Kelly's Twitter feed? ↵

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↵Louisville hiring Charlie Strong: The best defensive coordinator in college football finally gets his shot, after years of being passed over. UL is a terrific opportunity: The Big East's BCS bid is wide open and winnable, especially if/when Kelly leaves for ND. ↵

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↵NCAA investigating Tennessee football over use of "student hostesses." If you had "Same year he takes the job" in the office pool for when Lane Kiffin would have his first major NCAA investigation (we'll discount the smaller ones from the summer), please collect today. ↵

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↵Heisman Watch: In the latest confirmed vote totals from StiffarmTrophy.com, accounting for roughly 20 percent of all ballots cast, Mark Ingram is the leader, closely followed by Toby Gerhart, who is followed by Ndamukong Suh (who has the most 1st-place votes so far). McCoy is fourth and Tebow a distant fifth. ↵

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↵CFB Awards Season: Rolando McClain wins the Butkus as the nation's best linebacker. And if you watched him lead Alabama's demolition of Florida last Saturday, you understand why. ↵

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↵BCS vs. Congress: I'm no fan of the BCS, but I can't believe politicians don't have better things to do today than to work on legislation that would demand that the BCS stop claiming it is crowning THE national champion. ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Greg Monroe had a break-out game at Madison Square Garden last night, putting up 24 and 15 in a Georgetown win over Butler. Questions about his game may remain, but the guy is a Lottery pick in 2010. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: I agree with Shoals -- let LeBron dance. And, yes: The best way to get him to stop dancing is to beat him, like the Grizzlies somehow did last night. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, where he will play CF and instantly become the second most-popular player on the team after Derek Jeter. The Tigers get young arm Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from the D'backs, along with OF prospect Austin Jackson and P Phil Coke from the Yankees; Arizona gets pitchers Edwin Jackson from Detroit and Ian Kennedy from the Yankees. Everybody wins. (Well, almost.) ↵

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↵Rumors: Who are these Marlins? In years past, they would have gladly traded their best player for a couple of young studs -- this year, they appear actually ready to pay for Josh Johnson to anchor their rotation. I'm still ready to bet that he's gone by the trade deadline, but I'm not sure they will get a better offer than phenom Neftali Feliz, whom they rejected. ↵

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↵NFL Good Read: Tunison's Designed Rush. ↵

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↵Save the Date: February 6, when Danica Patrick will make her stock-car racing debut. ↵

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↵Media: Peter Gammons is leaving ESPN, and everyone wishes him well in the next phase of his career. Come on, Gammons: Start a blog! OK: I'll settle for a really good Twitter feed. Oh: MLB Network and NESN? OK. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I just don't think -- as coach would say, and he says this to us all the time -- we don't do it on a consistent basis." -- Tom Brady, as close as he'll come to publicly calling out his teammates. ↵

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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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