Shanoff's W.U.C.: Root VU-MSU, Pick NC-Conn?

Today's Calls: UNC vs. Villanova, UConn vs. Michigan State, Jay Cutler vs. Kyle Orton, LeBron vs. the Wizards, BJ Raji vs. Drug Testing, UConn women vs. History, Mike Vick vs. $10-and-hour, Braves vs. Phillies and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: My bracket is too busted for bail-out. There's not much room for improvement when you don't have any of the actual Final Four teams left on your bracket. The upside is that I can root for the best semifinal story line. ↵

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↵In this case, that would be sizzling Villanova upending UNC, the heavy favorite, creating the most possible pathos for the end of the college career of Tyler Hansbrough. ↵

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↵But I'm not entirely without sentimentalism: I would love to see hometown hero Michigan State continue its unlikely run through this tournament, bringing the smallest sliver of enjoyment to this economically embattled region of the country. (Also: Isn't UConn due a karmic payback for the Yahoo scandal?) ↵

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↵Ranking the potential title-game matchups: ↵

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↵1. Nova-MSU ↵
↵Entirely unexpected -- and that's a good thing. ↵

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↵2. UNC-UConn ↵
↵1-seed vs. 1-seed? Needs to match '08 title game. ↵

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↵3. UNC-MSU ↵
↵I fear for a Tar Heel blowout. ↵

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↵4. Nova-UConn ↵
↵Big East vs. Big East? Covered that with Nova-Pitt. ↵

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↵So I'd love to see Nova and MSU meet on Monday. Can Nova stop Tyler Hansbrough? They did a pretty good job overcoming DeJuan Blair. Can MSU beat UConn? They beat a superior team already when they beat Louisville. ↵

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↵6:07 UConn-MSU Pick: MSU ↵

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↵8:47 UNC-Nova Pick: Nova ↵
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↵But with the way my predictions have gone this year, it appears we will get UNC-UConn. ↵

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↵Bears trade for Jay Cutler: Big win for Chicago, which gets a "franchise"-level QB who isn't even 26 years old yet (although it remains to be seen exactly to whom he will throw the ball -- they ain't All-Pro receivers). Also, the fans will love him. ↵

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↵But they paid: Two 1st-round picks, now the property of the Broncos, who can use those picks themselves -- or bundle them to trade up in this draft or next. They sort of need to, because Kyle Orton isn't Josh McDaniels' answer at QB. (Would the Lions trade the No. 1 overall pick for the Broncos and Bears 1sts?) ↵

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↵Women's Final Four: UConn will try to roll on into history, and there is a part of me that can't help rooting against Oklahoma, if only to see Courtney Paris try to pay back her scholarship that she put on the line if OU didn't win a title. ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: The lowly Wizards played their "playoff" game last night, and they won -- they beat their longtime (real) playoff nemesis, LeBron and the Cavs. It gave the Wiz a rare win -- and their biggest win -- of the season. As a Wiz fan, I would normally say "No, no! Tank! Tank!" at this point of the season -- what if that win cost them the Lottery Ping-Pong ball that would become Blake Griffin? But to beat the Cavs is just too sweet. ↵

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↵CBB Coaching Carousel: Tim Floyd staying at USC! (Arizona is the new Kentucky?) Nevada's Mark Fox is going to Georgia! (Arizona didn't want Fox?) Gonzaga's Mark Few is staying! (Why leave? How many programs would be better than what he's got now?) ↵

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↵NFL Draft: BJ Raji tested positive for drugs at the Combine. Of course, this was the same Combine that he dominated, so I don't expect this to hurt his draft stock much. From Warren Sapp (pot) to Luis Castillo (roids), GMs have learned to become very forgiving -- if the talent is good enough. (The same would go for Percy Harvin and Vontae Davis, who also reportedly failed drug tests.) ↵

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↵Vick Watch: Working a $10-an-hour construction gig? Yeah, sure: Right up until a couple of NFL teams bid against each other for his services. (For his part, Vick would like to be back in the NFL by September.) ↵

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↵MLB Spring: Some top Pirates minor-leaguers lost to a community college team. Yup, it's time to get back to the regular season now. ↵

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↵Clemens Update: Cito Gaston is not a fan. ↵

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↵NIT: The Big Ten snags a Final Four spot and, now, an NIT title. Not a bad postseason for a league that was supposed to be terrible this year. (And, as with all NIT champs, perhaps Penn State deserved that spot in the NCAA Tournament. But if they had gotten one, they wouldn't have "NIT Champs!" T-shirts.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: MLB Opening Night! The defending champs in Philly host the Braves to get the season started. The Sunday game has never really caught on with the same cachet as "Opening Day," probably because only two teams are involved. But for the baseball-starved, it's a nice appetizer. ↵

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↵Oh, and don't forget to set your fantasy rosters! ↵

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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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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