Shanoff's W.U.C.: Wall, Lottery, NBA Picks

Today's Calls: John Wall vs. Kentucky, Blake Griffin vs. Ricky Rubio, Kobe Bryant vs. Chauncey Billups, Nuggets vs. WWE, LeBron vs. Dwight Howard, Jon Gruden vs. Tony Kornheiser, Penguins vs. Hurricanes, John Lackey vs. Mark Teixeira, James Harrison vs. Barack Obama and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Mark it down -- Kentucky is going to win the 2010 college hoops national title. ↵

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↵They had already gone from dud to contender by importing John Calipari, who signed a top-flight recruiting class, to go with returning big man Patrick Patterson, the best post player in the country. (They may even get sharp-shooting guard Jodie Meeks back, too.) ↵

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↵Now Coach Cal and the Cats reportedly have John Wall, the top recruiting prize in the country. ↵

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↵Wall will not only step onto UK's campus as the best college player in the country -- he could have been the prize of tonight's NBA Draft Lottery. (Yes: He could have been the No. 1 overall pick in 2009; instead, he will wait a year, but still be the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft.) ↵

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↵It is not even June, and college hoops has its dominant storyline: Kentucky is back. Kentucky is No. 1. Kentucky will win the national title. ↵

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↵Because John Wall will lead them. ↵

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↵Speaking of the NBA Lottery ... For many of us, this is our playoffs. (For long-suffering Bullets/Wizards fans like me, this type of playoffs comes way too frequently.) While other fans get to watch their teams play over the NBA's absurd 2- or 3-week playoff schedule per round, Lottery fans get one night. It can be a franchise-changing event: See your Eastern Conference finalists. (For some of us, you "win" the Lottery and get ... Kwame Brown.) ↵

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↵This year's Lottery winner gets Blake Griffin -- or, intriguingly, perhaps Ricky Rubio (couldn't you see Mike D'Antoni taking Rubio over Griffin?) Regardless, those guys will go 1-2. After that, the order is a speculator's crapshoot: Is Hasheem Thabeet a game-changer or one-dimensional? Is Tyreke Evans the next Wade or a positionless wash-out? Stephen Curry or Brandon Jennings? ↵

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↵Knowing the Wizards' luck, they will get the No. 3 pick, then trade it for salary relief -- ooh, sexy! I guess it could be worse: I could be a Celtics fan, staring at the oblivion of knowing that our title window is behind us. I will still be immersed in the Ping-Pong balls tonight. Fans of the teams too sorry to make the playoffs, I salute you -- this is our night! ↵

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↵NBA Conference Finals Picks ↵

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↵Pick: Nuggets over Lakers in 6. The presumption was that the Lakers would roll to the West title; a scrappy band of Rockets obliterated that idea. The presumption was also that the Nuggets NEVER do well in the playoffs; the acquisition of a playoff-tested non-Nugget, Chauncey Billups, obliterated that. ↵

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↵Why will the Nuggets shock the Lakers in 6 games? Thanks to that old Laker-killer Billups, who averaged 20+ ppg and 5+ apg, nearly 50 percent from 3 and 90 percent FT shooting in leading the Pistons to a 5-game rout past Kobe's Lakers in 2004. ↵

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↵(Speaking of shocks, imagine the shock in the Nuggets ownership suite when they realized that they had rented the Pepsi Center out to the WWE next Monday night, in conflict with Game 4. I buy Vince McMahon's line: Did Stan Kroenke not think his team would get to the Finals? Actually, back in August, who would have? The resolution isn't easy: The team will likely have to pay the WWE a LOT of money -- and why can't they move the game's date? Isn't this the one benefit of the NBA's maddening system of stretching out series as long as they can possibly go?) ↵

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↵Pick: Magic over Cavs in 6. Everyone is so sure that the Cavs are going to simply roll over Orlando. Why: Because they steamrolled the mediocre Pistons and out-of-their-depth Hawks in 8 games? That's fine: Everyone was pretty sure the Magic would roll over in Boston in Sunday night's Game 7, too. ↵

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↵Between the 3-point shooting (i.e., 13/21 in Game 7), Dwight Howard's presence in the post and an unconventionally tall lineup (i.e., 6-10 Hedo: 12 assists in Game 7), the Magic took out the East's defending champs; there's no reason they can't do the same thing to the East's presumptive champs, too. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: ↵

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↵• Lackey short-start: 80 more pitches than last time. ↵

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↵• AL's Best: Jays sweep 4 from ChiSox. ↵

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↵• Streaking: Rays win 4th straight. ↵

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↵• Injury Watch: Rickie Weeks out for season. ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: Mark Teixeira (2/4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R). ↵

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↵Jon Gruden on "MNF": Though it is fair to say that the Tony Kornheiser Experiment did not produce its intended results, I appreciated the theory behind it: Keeping at least one of the MNF seats for someone outside the "jockocracy" (h/t: Cosell). ↵

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↵While certainly caffeinated enough for prime-time TV, Gruden is most definitely jockocracy -- he is also likely using the platform to get himself back into the NFL within a year or two. ↵

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↵That said: Gruden is an unabashed Tim Tebow fan (even as a legit NFL QB prospect), going so far as to call him "concrete cyanide," and anyone who gushes like that about Tebow can't be THAT bad, am I right? ↵

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↵Brett Favre Watch: Shoulder surgery? That was the rumor yesterday morning. By the end of the day, there was a competing rumor -- no surgery, if he can help it. AAACK, MAKE IT STOP! ↵

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↵NHL Playoffs: Pens top Canes in Game 1 -- McErlain has a must-read about why Fleury is the hero. ↵

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↵Coaching/GM Carousel: Apparently, no one wants the T'wolves GM job ... Meanwhile, will someone (perhaps the division-rival Sixers) finally hire defensive guru Tom Thibodeau away from the Celtics bench? ↵

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↵Paulus Watch: Syracuse coach Doug Marrone has never seen Greg Paulus throw the football. Not that it matters -- because the entire thing is about creating much-needed buzz for the program, not because it will make the team better. ↵

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↵Brian Grant has Parkinson's: What a sad development. Here is the take from The Baseline. ↵

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↵Steelers to the White House: And the biggest story is what an idiot James Harrison is. (At least he's consistently idiotic: He didn't show up when No. 43 greeted the Steelers the last time they won the Super Bowl, either.) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "LeBron has surpassed Kobe as a player." -- Jerry West. ↵ ↵

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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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