Shanoff's W.U.C.: 'How's Your Bracket Look?'

Today's Calls: Darren Collison vs. Eric Maynor, 10-7 vs. 12-5, 1-seeds vs. Mid-Major At-Large teams, Your Bracket vs. Obama's Bracket and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: "How's your bracket look?" It is the phrase of the day, the week, the month, the moment. You can ask your buddy, your co-worker, your mom, your President. ↵

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↵FWIW, I was 13-3, missing the two 8/9 games and Clemson, barely. My best pick was UCLA over VCU — especially because I have UCLA going to the Elite Eight. I think that VCU was the best team to lose yesterday; in most any other matchup against a team seeded 2 through 10, they likely would have prevailed. ↵

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↵Unless some of your Elite Eight or Final Four picks were eliminated yesterday, you have little reason to feel too high or too low about your success rate in the first half of the first round; things can (and will) change in a hurry by Monday morning. ↵

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↵So what did we learn on Thursday? ↵

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↵The Good: Philly's night set, featuring the best game of the day — UCLA's nail-biting win over VCU. (Plus, in the opener of Philly's night-set, American's spirited run against Villanova.) ↵

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↵The image of the NCAA Tournament so far is three-time Final Four vet Darren Collison successfully defending VCU star PG Eric Maynor's would-be game-winner at the end. (OK: Maybe Pargo's dunk on Akron was the highlight of the day. This in-arena YouTube clip is my favorite version.) ↵

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↵The Bad: 1-seed blowouts. The afternoon games of the 1st round should be reserved for close games that have you glued to your computer at work (or rushing out of work to the bar on the corner). Lopsided wins by UNC (sans Ty Lawson) and UConn (sans Jim Calhoun) deflated the late-afternoon set of games. ↵

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↵The Ugly: Mid-major at-large teams. The Selection Committee took a lot of grief for only including four at-large teams from "non-power" conferences. They were vindicated when two of them lost yesterday, Butler to LSU (credit Tigers for hitting late FTs) and BYU in a why'd-you-bother ugly one to Texas A&M. ↵

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↵(The Committee also took a lot of grief for sending seven Big Ten teams. Michigan acquitted their selection; Minnesota was a dud. Purdue looked good against fiesty Northern Iowa, and Illinois unluckily drew a 12-seed with winning tournament experience — credit that for WKU's 4-point "upset".) ↵

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↵Upset Watch: Apparently, the 10-7 game is the new 12-5 game. But if you don't really count 10-over-7 or 9-over-8 (or even 12-over-5) as an upset, the day was devoid of drama. Close games are enough to intrigue temporarily (American! Northridge! Akron!), but the power teams ultimately took the drama out of it. It does seem like the second round will be toss-up competitive. ↵

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↵What will we learn on Friday? ↵

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↵Friday’s 1st-Round Game Schedule: ↵

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↵* — Shanoff’s pick to win. ↵

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↵Early Afternoon: ↵

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↵12:15 3 Syracuse* vs. 14 Stephen F. Austin (South@Miami) ↵

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↵How much momentum from last week will the Orange maintain? ↵

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↵12:25 8 Oklahoma State vs. 9 Tennessee* (East@Dayton) ↵

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↵Big 12 looking good, and SEC better than expected. ↵

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↵12:30 6 Marquette* vs. 11 Utah St (West@Boise) ↵

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↵Upset special? Eagles playing down a top guard. ↵

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↵12:30 3 Kansas* vs. 14 North Dakota State (Midwest@Minneapolis) ↵

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↵How can you not be rooting for NDSU vs. the defending champs. ↵

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↵Late Afternoon: ↵
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↵2:45 6 Arizona State* vs. 11 Temple (South@Miami) ↵

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↵Casual only-in-March CBB fans, meet James Harden. ↵

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↵2:55 1 Pitt* vs. 16 East Tennessee State (East@Dayton) ↵

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↵UNC, UConn set the bar for 1-seed routs. ↵

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↵3:00 3 Missouri* vs. 14 Cornell (West@Boise) ↵

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↵Big Red should draw inspiration from American. ↵

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↵3:00 6 West Virginia* vs. 11 Dayton (Midwest@Minneapolis) ↵

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↵Don't sleep on Flyers, but Bob Huggins will be amped. ↵

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↵Early Evening: ↵

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↵7:10 1 Louisville* vs. 16 Morehead State (Midwest@Dayton) ↵

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↵Tourney's top overall team needs a blitzing start. ↵

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↵7:10 5 Utah* vs. 12 Arizona (Midwest@Miami) ↵

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↵Cats were the last at-large team in the field. ↵

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↵7:20 7 Boston College vs. 10 USC* (Midwest@Minneapolis) ↵

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↵Apparently, 10-7 is the new 12-5. ↵

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↵7:25 4 Xavier* vs. 13 Portland State (East@Boise) ↵

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↵X-Men are annually a great early-round team. ↵

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↵Late Evening: ↵

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↵9:40 8 Ohio State* vs. 9 Siena (Midwest@Dayton) ↵

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↵Experienced Saints should win ... but in Ohio? ↵

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↵9:40 4 Wake Forest* vs. 13 Cleveland State (Midwest@Miami) ↵

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↵Don't forget that the Vikings won AT Syracuse. ↵

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↵9:50 2 Michigan State* vs. 15 Robert Morris (Midwest@Minneapolis) ↵

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↵The best of the Big Ten is ready for a run. ↵

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↵9:55 5 Florida State vs. 12 Wisconsin* (East@Boise) ↵

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↵Big Obama pick: Prez has FSU going to Sweet 16. ↵

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↵Bonus preview! Saturday’s 2nd-Rounders: ↵

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↵1:05 3 Villanova vs. 6 UCLA* (East@Philly) ↵

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↵Bruins’ win showed Final Four vet isn’t ready to go home. ↵

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↵3:20 2 Memphis* vs. 10 Maryland (West@KC) ↵

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↵Hey: Maryland is better than Cal-State Northridge. ↵

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↵3:35 1 UConn* vs. 9 Texas A&M (West@Philly) ↵

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↵Don't expect a 50-point romp. ↵

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↵5:40 4 Washingon* vs. 5 Purdue (West@Portland) ↵

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↵The least predictable game of the day? ↵

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↵5:45 1 UNC* vs. 8 LSU (West@Greensboro) ↵

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↵Will the Heels keep resting Ty Lawson? ↵

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↵5:50 2 Oklahoma* vs. 10 Michigan (South@KC) ↵

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↵John Beilein's crew should feel good about one win. ↵

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↵8:10 4 Gonzaga* vs. 12 Western Kentucky (South@Portland) ↵

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↵The Zags seem to struggle with Cinderellas. ↵

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↵8:15 2 Duke vs. 7 Texas* (East@Greensboro) ↵

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↵UT will find support from UNC fans in arena. ↵

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↵What: There's actually more to talk about in sports today? ↵

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↵— NFL Draft: Matthew Stafford's Pro Day. Don't be fooled by the scripted performance, Lions! Ah well: It sounds like folks were impressed by his workout. The question is: Are they impressed enough to mortgage their future to a guy who could just as easily be the next Rex Grossman as he is the next Joe Flacco? ↵

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↵— WBC Finally Gets Interesting: Team USA vs. defending champ Japan in the semis on Sunday, featuring Jake Peavy vs. Dice-K. (By the way, injured Kevin Youkilis doesn't care for your WBC cynicism.) ↵

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↵(Meanwhile, get ready, Yankees fans: Your entire season will come down to cringing every time you think A.J. Burnett might be injured. Is that because you expect him to get injured?) ↵

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↵— NBA Instant History: The only reason the Cavs survived the Blazers in overtime was because Cleveland only turned the ball over twice — twice — all game. ... Here come the Hawks. ... Must-Read: Bethlehem Shoals on NCAA vs. NBA. ↵

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↵— CFB: Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden doesn't like giving up wins. "Does the punishment fit the crime?" he asked. Well, since he's asking: Yes. ↵

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↵The Last Word: President Obama was 11-5 on his bracket yesterday. His decision to publicly reveal his bracket then allows you to say, "Hey, at least I'm beating Barack." ↵

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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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