Shanoff's W.U.C.: My Bracket Already Busted

Today's Calls: Syracuse vs. OHMYGODSIXOVERTIMES, Pitt vs. Chokery, Oklahoma vs. Oblivion, Kansas vs. Sorry-No-Repeat, Papelbon vs. Manny, LeBron vs. Wade, Sanchez vs. Stafford and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: How is it possible that my NCAA Tournament bracket is already busted? ↵

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↵In my mind earlier this week, I had Pitt advancing at least to the Final Four — maybe even Oklahoma to the Elite Eight. Certainly UConn and Kansas to the Sweet 16. But after yesterday? Not so much. And so when the bracket comes out on Sunday night and you eagerly start to fill it out, remember the humbling lesson from Thursday's results: ↵

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↵You know nothing. ↵

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↵I might even call it a mantra: Thursday was a timely reminder to all fans that when it comes to making predictions about the "top" teams, assumptions are for chumps. ↵

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↵— If UConn can lose to Syracuse in the Big East quarters, why should you have any confidence that the Huskies will pull anything more than their typical recent Tournament underachievement? ↵

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↵Now, let's take one moment to honor Cuse's jaw-dropping 6OT win against UConn as — perhaps — the greatest conference tournament game since NC State-Maryland in 1973. Both teams are Tournament locks — UConn obviously lost its shot at a 1-seed — but how can you argue with SIX (SIX!!!) overtimes? It was as if those insufferable Buffalo Wild Wings commercials — "Hey, barkeep, can you keep this great game going?" — came to life. ↵

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↵— If Pitt can lose to West Virginia in the Big East quarters ... your previous notion of penciling them into the Final Four is absurd. (Though you might want to consider WVU for a run into the NCAA Tournament's second weekend.) ↵

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↵— If Kansas can lose to Baylor ... the Big 12 regular-season champs are a ludicrous pick to even come close to repeating. (In fact, they look more like the "pre-2008" Bill Self teams in March: Chokers.) ↵

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↵— If Oklahoma can lose to Oklahoma State ... not only do the Sooners lose out on an NCAA 1-seed, but you should doubt any thoughts you ever had that "national player of the year" Blake Griffin can carry them anywhere. ↵

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↵This was not top teams losing in tournament finals to other top teams; this was top teams losing way too prematurely for you to have any faith in their ability to win even a couple of consecutive games in the NCAA Tournament, let alone the six straight needed to win it all. ↵

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↵Filling out a bracket is mind-frakking enough as it is. Yesterday's results taunt you and remind you, going into Selection Sunday, that even your best guess is just that. ↵

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↵More Hoops Mania: ↵Today's Must-Track Story lines: ↵

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↵— Big East Semis: From three possible 1-seeds ... to one? ↵

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↵Plus: How exhausted will Cuse be vs. fiesty WVU? ↵

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↵— Big 12 Semis: How can you NOT root for Baylor? ↵

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↵Plus: It's Mizzou's tournament to lose. ↵

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↵— ACC Qtrs: Maryland in must-win vs. Wake ↵

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↵Plus: How will UNC look without Lawson? ↵

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↵— Big Ten Qtrs: Ohio State-Wisconsin an NCAA play-in? ↵

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↵Plus: So are Minny and Michigan in or not? ↵

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↵— Pac-10 Semis: Prove-it game for Wash vs. Arizona State. ↵

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↵Plus: Time for UCLA to assert itself. ↵

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↵— SEC Qtrs: Florida-Auburn an NCAA play-in? ↵

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↵Plus: Is this Billy Gillispie's last stand? ↵

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↵Bubble Watch: San Diego State now a lock? ↵

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↵Memphis Lame: They can barely take care of business in the quarterfinals of their own sorry conference. Unmotivated? I say overrated. Can we stop all the talk about the Tigers deserving a No. 1 seed now? ↵

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↵Arizona's 24-year streak of NCAA Tournament appearances has got to be over. Here's the question: Will we ever see a team put together that kind of string again? ↵

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↵Thursday's best finish (Big Conference): Villanova's buzzer-beater over Marquette. ↵

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↵Thursday's best finish (Mid-Major Conference): Utah with the 3 for the win over TCU. ↵

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↵Left out of the lead item: "If Clemson can lose to lowly Georgia Tech. ..." Eh, well, we all already knew that the Tigers were wildly overrated, didn't we? ↵

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↵Everything else ... : ↵

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↵MLB: Jon Papelbon is just plain wrong about Manny, I agree with Chris Mottram. Two titles with the "cancer" and zero without (including an ALCS ouster by the historically mighty Rays) says otherwise. I guess this season will be the real proof, won't it? ↵

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↵Clemens Scandal, Cont'd: There are allegations of juicing, and then there are allegations of juicing in Yankee Stadium itself. (Let's not get too self-righteous: Where else are athletes going to take their PEDs? Consider the amphetamine-laced "coffee" that was a staple of every clubhouse, going back decades.) ↵

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↵Off-Field MLB Scandals: Say it ain't so, Bernie! Behind that smooth-jazz exterior is a guy who doesn't like his picture taken at a nightclub, apparently. ↵

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↵T.O. Gets No. 81: This was imperative. If he is going to be the face of the franchise — or at least the reason the Bills are worth following this season — T.O. needed his classic "81" to maintain his aura. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Looks like Anquan Boldin may get his wish. (No matter what the Cardinals might be saying.) ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Just so you don't think I'm simply anti-Stafford, the notion that the Lions would take ANY quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick — Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez (?!) — is crazy. (1) Sanchez isn't a franchise QB, and (2) the Lions should re-build from the lines, out. ↵

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↵NFL Legal Blotter: Hundred-millionaire Albert Haynesworth, solid citizen. ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: LeBron is unstoppable. With a third straight triple-double, LBJ is making it very hard to say decisively that D-Wade is the NBA MVP. ↵

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↵NBA Economic Doom: Even though Indiana is a high-school hoops state first, and then a college-hoops state, can you imagine Indiana without a pro hoops team? (I'm sure fans in Seattle or Kansas City can, very easily.) ↵

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↵CFB Spring '09: Is Ole Miss the most intriguing program this spring? Here's the thing about Houston Nutt — he is at his best when there are no expectations. Make him a Top 10 preseason pick, and you are begging the program to regress after his amazing first year. ↵

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↵Business: Fascinating rankings of the "most successful" franchises in NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL (based on winning and money) — No. 1? The Celtics. Last? The Lions. Yup, sounds about right. ↵

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↵Pop Culture: Those adidas ads where NBA prep-to-pro players fantasize about playing in the NCAA Tournament (for adidas-sponsored schools, naturally) are absolutely amazing. KG at UCLA, T-Mac at Louisville, Dwight Howard at Kansas, Josh Smith at Pitt. (What: No Northwestern? We'd even take Telfair.) ↵

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↵Golf: Um ... if Tiger isn't going to be at the top of the leaderboard, what's the point again? ↵

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↵The Last Word: No, really, that Syracuse-UConn game was just about as sick as it gets. Here is a YouTube clip of the highlights, with many more versions to show up online throughout the day, I'm sure. ↵

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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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