Shanoff's WUC: Now, NCAA Bracket Self-Doubt

Today's Calls: Bracket Confidence vs. Second-Guessing, Georgetown vs. Ohio State, Duke vs. the South field, Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. Winthrop, Syracuse vs. Onuaku's quad, UConn women vs. Anyone, Brady Quinn vs. LaDainian Tomlinson, Tiger vs. The Masters, Andre Agassi vs. Pete Sampras, Albert Pujols vs. Ryan Howard and More. ↵

↵XavierThe Opening Pitch: As always, the Tuesday of NCAA Tournament week is reserved for self-doubt. Stare at that bracket. Just yesterday, your picks seemed so ... certain. Today? You've seen everyone else's picks and read all the expert analysis and you start to second-guess. Here are my biggest self-doubts: ↵

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↵— Midwest: Georgetown over Ohio State? The Hoyas are so inconsistent, and Evan Turner is the Player of the Year — perhaps Danny Manning 2.0. But I can't help thinking about how the Hoyas destroyed Duke a few weeks back. ↵

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↵— West: Xavier goes Elite Eight? It's easy to remember that the X-men are perennial overachievers in the Tournament. Minnesota, Pitt and Kansas State would be a gauntlet. ↵

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↵— East: Washington to the — WHAT?! — Sweet 16? The Pac-10 was terrible this year. Marquette is a terrific 6-seed and New Mexico is trendy. I am putting a LOT of stock into UW playing (sorta) near home in San Jose. ↵

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↵— South: Anyone but Duke. Happy to take Duke to the regional final, before they lose to Villanova. (See '09.) Dukies swear this is a new team. (And Nova might not even make it past Richmond, let alone Baylor.) ↵

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↵It is a testament to how conservative my picks are this year (Washington notwithstanding) that the only thing that makes me nervous is that I went against my usual contrarian thinking. Then again, that system got me nowhere. ↵

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↵What picks on your bracket make YOU nervous? Commiserate in the comments. ↵

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↵"Play-In Game" Mania! I say this every year — I love the Play-In game. I love that it gets crazy treatment on the bracket. I love that some team's tournament ends before the tournament starts. I love that for one of the teams, they will earn more tournament wins than 32 other teams in the field. I love that it is always in Dayton. ↵

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↵Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Winthrop, I salute you: I love that A-PB is in their first NCAA Tournament ever. I love that, for one night, we get to focus on two teams who otherwise would be entirely overlooked. I support expanding the 65-team field to 96, but if I had to lament anything about that, it is that it would mean the end of the Play-In Game. ↵

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↵National Favorites: Syracuse is the overwhelming pick to win the West region, but is anyone else a little nervous that Arinze Onuaku will likely miss both games of the opening weekend (including the Gonzaga/FSU winner)? ↵

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↵Mike DeCourcy's Bracket: Mike and I agree that Kansas will win the title. (Then again, Mike and I agreed last year that Louisville was going to win the title.) But he believes in Duke to make it to the title game (thanks to its "cupcake" region), while I go with "Anyone but Duke" and see them missing the Final Four entirely (thanks to Duke's current penchant for Tourney chokes). All that said: Read Mike's take. ↵

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↵Great Read: TSB's "Better Know a Bracket" is one of the absolute best things you will read anywhere about the NCAA Tournament field. Start with Andy Hutchins' Midwest, then move to Dan Levy's West. ↵

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↵Women's Tournament: This is even easier than picking Kansas on the men's side — UConn, UConn, UConn. Frankly, UConn losing would be such a staggering all-time upset that it would dwarf UConn actually winning the title. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: What move is more exciting for the team's fans — Brady Quinn traded to Denver or LaDainian signing with the Jets? Broncos fans might want a QB to supplant Kyle Orton, but I doubt Quinn is the guy to do it. Meanwhile, L.T. is the most exciting non-Favre name to play offense in New York since Keyshawn. (Speaking of Brett.) ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Anyone else a little underwhelmed that Toby Gerhart reportedly only scored a 30 on his Wonderlic? By the way: Tim Tebow's Pro Day workout in Gainesville is tomorrow, and it's going to be insanity. More tomorrow. ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: I said this on Friday: Tiger's return at the Masters will be the most-watched golf event of all time. I'm not seeing Super Bowl numbers, but I'll set an over-under at college football title game numbers. ↵

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↵Agassi apologizes for making a crack at Pete Sampras about how cheap Sampras is, to which Pete took much offense. Andre is savvy enough to know that he looked like the jerk and smartly sorried up. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: You can't stop Luis Scola! After his 44, he follows up with 23 in the Rockets win against the previously sizzling Nuggets. (Still: 5 GB Portland for that 8th West playoff spot.) ↵

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↵MLB Spring Training: Think Cliff Lee wants to bring a winning, competitive attitude to the Mariners? Lee got tossed for throwing at D-backs catcher Chris Snyder. Yikes. ↵

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↵Non-Trades: Albert Pujols for Ryan Howard. People are still talking about this? Actually asking Pujols and Howard their reaction? Let's step back for a second: Of COURSE the Phillies might ask about this! Pujols is the best player in baseball! And of COURSE the Cardinals would say no: Pujols is the best player in baseball! There: Let's move on. ↵

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↵Crime: 2.5 years for the Erin Andrews stalker. He's going to learn a new definition of "peephole." ↵

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↵Fun: Lane Kiffin vs. Natalie Gulbis. Who ya got? ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I deserve to be punished." — Gilbert Arenas. ↵

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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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