Shanoff's W.U.C.: VCU, Zags, Big East, A-Rod

Today's Calls: VCU vs. Siena, St. Mary's vs. Georgetown, A-Rod vs. Recovery, George Steinbrenner vs. Tonya Harding, Dwyane Wade vs. the Buzzer, Mike Vick vs. the UFL and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: I have a confession to make. ↵

↵

↵When Billy Donovan left for the NBA, I was — as a Gators fan — very excited about the prospects of Florida hiring Anthony Grant, the former Donovan assistant who had just led VCU to an amazing run in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. ↵

↵

↵(Perhaps even more excited than the idea of Donovan returning to Florida.) ↵

↵

↵Don't get me wrong: I love Billy D, but if I had to start a program or fill a vacant coaching position, I would hire Anthony Grant ahead of any other coach in the country. ↵

↵

↵He has proven his chops at VCU: In his first year, VCU ousted Duke in the first round, making Grant's team the most popular in the country -- at least for one night. (And they almost KO'ed Pitt two days later.) Last year, only a CAA Tourney choke kept them out of the Dance again. ↵

↵

↵This year, the Rams are back. They won't be as overlooked as they were in 2007, but they are an even better team, led by PG (and designated Duke-slayer) Eric Maynor and a springy 6-10 sophomore named Larry Sanders — not around for the '07 run, but putting everyone on notice with 18 pts, 20 reb and 7 blocks last night. ↵

↵

↵I would call the Rams "this year's Davidson" — that mid-major that will make a run through the second weekend of the Tournament. But I think they are better than last year's Davidson. ↵

↵

↵Last night, VCU won the CAA by clobbering George Mason — a team with a permanent place in college hoops history for its run to the Final Four in 2006. ↵

↵

↵Maybe VCU is this year's Mason. ↵

↵

↵ ↵

↵

↵More College Hoops Mania: ↵

↵

↵— St. Mary's didn't necessarily need to beat Gonzaga to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament — but, with Patty Mills in the lineup, they had to get closer than 25 points in a loss. ↵

↵

↵(SOME of the at-large bids HAVE to go to non-power-conference teams, right? It's only that kind of fairly irrational reasoning that gets St. Mary's in. BTW: I totally buy the argument that the tournament is better for having a second WCC team than a 7th or 8th ACC team.) ↵

↵

↵— MAAC champ Siena may get no better than a 12- or 13-seed, but they have "sexy first-round upset pick" written all over them. ↵

↵

↵— Davidson may or may not be (or perhaps should or shouldn't be) going to the tournament, but Chattanooga got the automatic bid from the Southern Conference, what once felt to be a lock for Stephen Curry's crew. ↵

↵

↵— Big East Tournament starts today: Georgetown's last stand. Is it wrong that I still hold out that G'town can make a run to the Big East Tourney title? The problem is they have to win two games in two days (St. John's, then Marquette) and THEN (3rd game in 3 days) face a totally rested Villanova and THEN (4th game in 4 days) play a Louisville team that had only played one game the day before ... and THEN play the UConn-Pitt winner — 5th game in 5 days. Brutal. ↵

↵

↵— Title games tonight: Horizon (Butler vs. Cleveland St). Butler is in, regardless of whether they win. So the only folks really paying attention to this are the major-conference teams on the Bubble that would get bounced if CSU won the Horizon auto-bid. ↵

↵

↵More: Summit (North Dakota State vs. Oakland) and Sun Belt (South Alabama vs. Western Kentucky). ↵

↵

↵A-Rod Update: "The surgery went exactly as we planned," the doc said. (What did you expect him to say?) You hear that "out nine weeks" projection and it seems like a long time — then you realize he could be back as early as May, and suddenly the surgery now seems like a no-brainer. ↵

↵

↵Clemens Scandal, Cont'd: This shouldn't surprise you. At all. (So when will Clemens officially get hit with the perjury charge for lying to Congress?) ↵

↵

↵Sigh: A-Rod. ... Clemens. ... can we please get back to the actual baseball? ↵

↵

↵— How about a status update on Michael Young's transition to 3B? (Verdict: No complaints) ↵

↵

↵— Or a preview of the Cubs, who should win the N.L. Central but really need to win the N.L. pennant this time. ↵

↵

↵— Heck, I'll even take a WBC update on Chipper's health status (he should play Saturday — wonder what Braves execs think about that?) ↵

↵

↵Aha! HERE is the weirdest story of the day: Did George Steinbrenner fund Tanya Harding's kneecapping of Nancy Kerrigan? It's a leap, but a theory I expect you will see finds some traction. (Hey, it sure beats another A-Rod health update.) ↵

↵

↵NBA Instant History: OK, I'm finally on board — Dwyane Wade for MVP. What an absolutely sick performance, including that running, buzzer-beating 3 in 2OT. Devin Harris' half-courter may claim the wildest shot of the season, but among MVP candidates, Wade's might have been the Shot of the Year in the NBA. ... ↵

↵

↵More: The Blazers certainly seem like the team in the West to unseat the Lakers (in three-four years); wins like last night's are ones to build on (here's to a quick recovery for Rudy). ... I think that if David Stern is spinning the NBA's labor situation now, two years before it is actually an issue, that it is — hmm — actually an issue. ↵

↵

↵Vick Watch: UFL-bound? It would be a marketing coup for the new "UFL" to have Mike Vick in the league for its inaugural season. I still contend that as soon as he is available to return to the NFL, at least one team will make a play for him. ↵

↵

↵As for the UFL, I am surprised they are putting their money behind "celebrity" coaches like Jim Fassel and Dennis Green — are they trying to run a football league or create Coors Light commercials? The best strategy remains recruiting NFL-ineligible college underclassmen. (They are reportedly paying the coaches $500K each; I'd be curious if Terrelle Pryor or Julio Jones would skip out on college for that kind of money?) ↵

↵

↵Matt Jones jailed: The idiot violated his plea bargain from that drug arrest last year; the NFL should suspend him for a couple of games, too — that was as much of a spit in the face of the league as it was to the courts. ↵

↵

↵The Last Word: I stand corrected. Got a couple of emails yesterday in response to my ranking Louisville at No. 1 ahead of Pitt. They correctly pointed out that Louisville enjoyed an easier schedule than Pitt — and so I stand corrected: Make Pitt No. 1 ... for now. We will see who the hotter team is if they meet in the Big East Tournament — and next Monday, when I release my bracket picks. ↵

↵

↵Per the item at the top of the column: Yesterday, I also seemed convinced that the Selection Committee would overlook Davidson's overmatched resume and give them an at-large bid on the basis of their performance last year and the star wattage of Stephen Curry — most RPI experts find that idea laughable, and don't even put Davidson in the conversation anymore. ↵

↵

↵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. ↵

↵

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

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.