Shanoff's W.U.C.: Big East Quarters Rule

Today's Calls: Big East vs. Everyone, Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, Northwestern vs. Minnesota, Mike Singletary vs. Texas A&M's dreams, DeJuan Blair vs. Blake Griffin, Netherlands vs. George Mason, Dwyane Wade vs. Kobe Bryant and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Let the jockeying begin. ↵

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↵Most of the small- and mid-major tournaments are out of the way. The power conferences ramp up, and it is less about earning an NCAA bid -- all but a handful are already accounted for -- than jockeying for preferential seeding (or, more accurately, preferential geographic placement). ↵

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↵The top 3 Thursday story lines: ↵

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↵(1) The Big East rules. Today's 8-team quarters feature 7 teams that are NCAA locks -- not just locks, but if you added up their total NCAA seed values, the combined number probably wouldn't crack 20. I think fans really want to see a semis showdown of the Top 4 (L'ville, Pitt, UConn, Nova) ↵

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↵(2) Oklahoma is playing for a No. 1 seed -- their Big 12 Tournament run starts with Oklahoma State, which could use an upset win over its rival to secure its own NCAA bid. (That's not to say an OU win today secures a No. 1 seed; they need to win the whole Big 12 Tourney for that. More to lose than gain in today's game.) ↵

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↵(3) Northwestern. The dream flickers on. ↵

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↵More previews of today's power-conference lineup after the jump.  ↵

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↵Big 12: Might have used up all of its March mayhem yesterday -- Texas Tech's Mike Singletary broke a B12 Tourney record, scorching Texas A&M for 43 in a TT upset win. Did the Aggies just cost themselves a bid to the NCAA Tournament? Put it this way: They still have a stronger case than, say, Davidson. ↵

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↵Big Ten: I think Penn St. is an NCAA lock, regardless. Minnesota and Michigan both have to win today to even remain in the "not in yet, but maybe with another W" conversation. ↵

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↵ACC: The top seeds all have byes today, putting the focus on the ACC's two teams on the outside of the Bubble looking in -- Miami and Maryland. Both they not only must win today, but also probably have to upset one of the ACC's top dogs tomorrow, too. ↵

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↵Pac-10: Arizona is in a must-win today against rival Arizona St if the Wildcats want to make the NCAA Tournament for the umpteenth year. Meanwhile, sure Washington won the regular-season title; let's see how their style translates into a tournament format. ↵

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↵SEC: Meh. And I say that as a Florida fan. (Most lists put the Gators in the "First Four Out" pile -- the Extreme Bubble. Even with a win over Arkansas, I don't think Florida is off the Bubble and into the field. Thanks, Cleveland State!) ↵

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↵Who's In: Fun finishes -- and NCAA bids -- for Robert Morris and Portland St. ↵

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↵SN CBB All-Americans: Blair, Hansbrough, Griffin, Curry, Harden make the 1st team. (Hmm: I seem to remember someone suggesting that Blair was a 1st-team All-American at midseason ... I'll go one further now: Blair -- not Blake -- is the national Player of the Year.) ↵

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↵WBC: Hmm ... someone is a little touchy about comparisons between the Netherlands and George Mason. (I'm kidding. Chris is right: It's apples and oranges, although I would still claim this was the biggest upset in baseball history. But let's not mess with the Mason miracle by comparing it to anything else.) ↵

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↵Speaking of the Dutch: You could kind of see this let-down loss coming. (That, and P.R. owns the Netherlands like the Netherlands owns the D.R.) ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: The Celtics seem ordinary; Dwyane Wade is most certainly not. ... Ron-Ron and the Rockets contained Kobe for 3 quarters, then KB24 went off for 18 in the 4th (Kobe on Artest: "I kicked his [butt] tonight.")... So much for all that Jazz momentum. ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Andre Smith's miserable lead-up to the draft continues at Alabama's Pro Day. Smith has gone from No. 1 overall to late 1st-rounder to will-he-even-be-a-1st-day-pick? If Smith gets the right coaching and motivation, he could be a steal; for now, he just looks like a softie. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I had to look at Roy Williams and the future that we have with Roy. I'm excited about Roy, so I’d rather have him than the picks we gave up for him in this draft. -- Jerry Jones' rationalization for dumping T.O. and the Cowboys' future without him. ↵

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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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