Shanoff's W.U.C.: Combine, Duke, KG

Today's Calls: Duke vs. Oklahoma, Andre Smith vs. Michael Crabtree, Mark Sanchez vs. Matt Stafford, Matt Kenseth vs. the Field, Kevin Garnett vs. Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade vs. Dwight Howard, Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: There is already a big loser -- and perhaps a big winner -- at the NFL Draft Combine. ↵

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↵The biggest loser? Andre Smith. Heading into the week, he was considered a lock near the top of the draft -- perhaps even the No. 1 overall pick of the draft by the Lions, as their franchise offensive tackle. ↵

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↵If you ever questioned the value of the Combine, this is why they hold it: Smith came in out of shape. He is rumored to have bombed his interviews. And he just plain disappeared. ↵

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↵The result? His stock has tanked. Now, he isn't even the top-rated OT (perhaps not even one of the Top 3 OTs), let alone the No. 1 overall pick. He will still be a 1st-rounder, of course -- this is still the NFL -- but he blew his first job interview. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, USC QB Mark Sanchez earned serious cred for throwing at the Combine -- something rival Matt Stafford refused to do. (Got something to hide, Stafford? I know, I know: His agent, I'm sure, wanted him throwing under more controlled circumstances.) ↵

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↵(Still up in the air: Michael Crabtree, the best player in college football last season -- and the best WR since Larry Fitzgerald. He revealed a foot injury, but insists he will run at Texas Tech's Pro Day before surgery. Oh, and he's really 6-1, rather than his listed 6-3.) ↵

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↵Defensive players hit the spotlight today and tomorrow. ↵

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↵CBB Mania: The next five weeks belong to college hoops. Two weeks left in the regular season (at the major level). A week of conference tournaments. Selection Sunday. Then off to the races. What did we learn this weekend? ↵

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↵• Has Duke figured it out? Coach K now has Jon Scheyer at PG, and he responded with a career-high 30. Gerald Henderson unleashed for a career-best 35. And Duke racked up 101 points on the best D in the ACC -- one of the best defenses in the country. Was this Duke's turning-point game of the season? ↵

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↵• Jim Calhoun is gruff, but right: Is Jim Calhoun overpaid? That's more of a question of: Are all top college coaches overpaid? In a down economy where many states are struggling to meet budgets, it is a topical question -- but not a fair one. I buy the argument that the top coaches create far more revenue for states than they cost; if every state employee had an ROI like Calhoun, we wouldn't be in a recession. ↵

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↵• Butler is the best BracketBuster: Wow, did Butler need that win over Davidson, in the marquee game of this year's Bracket-Buster slate. (Star of the Weekend: Gordon Hayward.) Meanwhile, the speculation is that not many mid-major teams will earn at-large bids this year, but St. Mary's may have done enough, by beating Utah State; if Patrick Mills comes back for the Gaels, this is an entirely different team in March. Will the Selection Committee take that into account? ↵

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↵• Big East Big Game of the Weekend: Nova wins at Cuse. A month ago, Syracuse was coming off a thumping at Pitt; from there, they have lost 5 of 7 -- dropping them into 8th place in the conference. An onerous 10-game stretch is over, but in 4 remaining games they still host Cincy and have to play at Marquette. (Meanwhile: Nova has won 8/9 since a mid-January loss at UConn.) ↵

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↵• Blake Griffin is kind of important: Tonight's Kansas at Oklahoma won't reveal much if you're looking for insights about how either team will do in March. OU without Blake Griffin -- or maybe with a limited Griffin -- isn't anywhere close to the same team that they were before Saturday's loss at Texas. ↵

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↵NASCAR: Matt Kenseth wins again, the first driver to win the first two events of the season since Jeff Gordon more than a decade ago. That said: Remember Kyle Busch a year ago; he racked up win after win -- in the end, the Chase championship went elsewhere. ↵

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↵NFL: Marvin Harrison doesn't want to take a pay cut: Ever wonder what Marvin Harrison's career would be like without Peyton Manning? Or what Peyton Manning's career would be like without Marvin Harrison? We're about to find out. ↵

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↵Fred Taylor to Pats? Naturally, if he joined New England, you just know that Fred Taylor would find a second wind in his career, rush for 1,000-plus yards and double-digit TDs next season and win that long-awaited Super Bowl ring, perhaps even ensuring his place in the Hall of Fame. Yes: All by joining the Pats. ↵

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↵NBA: KG's knee is the biggest story that matters right now. Oh, sure, he may be back in 2-3 weeks as projected ... but what kind of long-term impact will his knee injury have on the Celtics' fortunes in the playoffs? ↵

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↵Apparently, not a huge one: Without KG, the C's ran past Phoenix anyway, holding the briefly re-prolific Suns to a mere 108 points while racking up 128 themselves. (PHX missed Amare more than Boston missed KG.) The star in KG's absence? Rondo, who put up a career-best 32, with 10 assists. ↵

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↵KG may be out, but Delonte West came back for the Cavs, and they not only beat the Pistons behind a team-high 25 from West (8/11 FG), but -- as Bethlehem Shoals explains -- Cleveland is even better with him in the lineup. ↵

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↵Milestones: Kobe reaches Top 20 all-time in scoring. Doesn't it feel like he should be higher up the list by now? Like, if you asked a random fan where Kobe ranks on the all-time scoring list, don't you think they would put him much higher than 20th? ↵

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↵Fantasy Stud: Dwyane Wade, who scored a career-high 50 -- albeit in a loss to Miami's in-state rival from Orlando. (Dwight Howard was no fantasy slouch: 32 pts, 17 reb.) ↵

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↵MLB: Ready for a break from PED scandals? How about the "other" scandal, in which MLB execs and scouts skimmed bonus money from deals for Latin American prospects? Someone has leaked a name of a high-profile target of the Feds' investigation: Nationals GM Jim Bowden. Yikes. Tracking ... ↵

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↵Not that there's not an A-Rod update (sigh): A-Rod hired the lawyer who represented Sammy Sosa. Take that as you will. ↵

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↵Media: The news of the weekend was Emmitt Smith's ESPN contract not being renewed. His tenure felt forced from the start; coming off that high-profile win on Dancing With the Stars, it was assumed he was media-ready. He wasn't ready for the scrutiny of live studio work, where his malapropisms were a frequent source of humor, for bloggers especially. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "What I can say about him?" "He is a good player, but he talks too much." -- Alexander Ovechkin ↵

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↵"Like it or lump it, that's what he does. Some people like it, some people don't. Personally, I don't like it." -- Sidney Crosby ↵

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↵The best thing that could possibly happen in the NHL to increase the interest of casual fans is that the two best young stars in the league hate each other. ↵

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↵(Yesterday's nationally televised game between the Caps and Pens went to D.C., with a league-leading 43rd goal from Ovie.) ↵

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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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