Shanoff's WUC: Best Sports Day of the Year

Today's Calls: NCAA Tournament vs. Anything Else, BYU vs. Florida's NCAA streak, Notre Dame vs. Old Dominion, Vandy vs. Murray St. and Obama, Butler vs. UTEP bandwagon, Kentucky opener vs. Kansas opener, Washington vs. my Bracket Oblivion, Bruce Pearl vs. San Diego St., Tim Tebow vs. NFL Draftniks and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: "First Thursday" -- what I call the opening day of the NCAA Tournament -- should be a national holiday. Or at least an official half-day off. It's not like people are working this afternoon. ↵

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↵Consider the ways to consume: TV. Laptop. Phone. Twitter. Technology has eliminated my need to go to a sports bar -- between my flat-screen and my MacBook and my iPhone, I can watch three games at once, from my couch or cubicle or anywhere with Wi-Fi. ↵

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↵So how does this afternoon look? Of the seven games ending by 5 p.m. ET, I think we could see up to three upsets: Old Dominion over Notre Dame, Murray State over Vandy and St. Mary's over Richmond. ↵

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↵(That said: Across 16 games today, I only have 2 upsets, both 11s-over-6s: San Diego State over Tennessee and Washington over Marquette. Find my complete bracket picks here.) ↵

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↵By the way: It's a shame that the annual 5 p.m. ET game that no one on the East Coast watches is a fabulous one: Butler vs. UTEP, in a game that will impact the Sweet 16. ↵

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↵(And, intriguingly, the nation's longest Tournament winning streak -- Florida's 12 in a row -- could end in the bracket's very first game, against BYU. Did I say "could?" I mean "should." And I say that as a Florida fan.) ↵

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↵Today illustrates why Tourney-expansion haters are wrong. These crazy, defining first two days of the NCAAs are not about who is playing -- just that there IS playing (all day), we get to engage in socially acceptable gambling and we get to ignore work. Hopefully, there are a couple of buzzer-beaters and upsets, too. ↵

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↵Enjoy it. It is the best sports day of the year. ↵

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↵After the jump: Breakdown of every game today. ↵[end lead item] ↵

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↵Previewing today's games: ↵
↵* - DS-predicted winners ↵

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↵12:20 7 BYU* vs. 10 Florida (West@OKC) ↵
↵Ends Gators' 12-game NCAA win streak. ↵

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↵12:25 6 Notre Dame* vs. 11 Old Dominion (South@NOLA) ↵
↵Irish fought harder than any to get in. ↵

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↵12:30 2 Nova* vs. 15 Robt Morris (South@Prov) ↵
↵#Pleasedontlosepleasedontlose ↵

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↵2:30 4 Vandy* vs. 13 Murray St (West@San Jose) ↵
↵President Obama's Upset of the Day. ↵

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↵2:40 2 Kansas St* vs. 15 North Texas (West@OKC) ↵
↵President Obama's surprise Final 4 team. ↵

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↵2:45 3 Baylor* vs. 14 Sam Houston St (South@NOLA) ↵
↵Lots of late momentum for the Bears. ↵

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↵2:50 7 Richmond* vs. 10 St. Mary's (South@Prov) ↵
↵Two mid-majors enter; one exits a loser. ↵

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↵4:45 5 Butler* vs. 12 UTEP (West@SJ) ↵
↵Worst slot for best game of 1st rd. ↵

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↵7:10 8 UNLV* vs. 9 N. Iowa (Midwest@OKC) ↵
↵Classic 8-9 toss-up. Winner gets KU. ↵

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↵7:15 1 Kentucky* vs. 16 E. Tenn St (East@NOLA) ↵
↵Everyone do the John Wall Dance. ↵

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↵7:20 6 Marquette vs. 11 Washington* (East@SJ) ↵
↵The biggest gamble of my bracket... ↵

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↵7:25 3 G'town* vs. 14 Ohio (Midwest@Prov) ↵
↵Let's hope "good" Hoyas show up. ↵

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↵9:30 1 Kansas* vs. 16 Lehigh (Midwest@OKC) ↵
↵Formality for presumptive champ. ↵

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↵9:35 8 Texas* vs. 9 Wake Forest (East@NOLA) ↵
↵UT can salvage lame season here. ↵

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↵9:40 3 New Mexico* vs. 14 Montana (East@SJ) ↵
↵Watch Grizzly Anthony Johnson. ↵

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↵9:45 6 Tennessee vs. 11 San Diego St* (Midwest@Prov) ↵
↵Pearl a great Tourney coach, but I like upset. ↵

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↵Be sure to check out DeCourcy's guide to the best games of the day. ↵

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↵Other bits of news to get you until noon... ↵

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↵Obama Bracket Analysis: Kansas over Kentucky for the title was no surprise; he showed last year how picking the champ can make up for early-round problems. His most interesting picks: Villanova over Duke (agreed), Georgetown over Ohio State (agreed), Siena over Purdue (agreed), Cornell over Temple (agreed), Murray State over Vandy (don't have it myself, but like it). ↵

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↵Tebow Pro Day: Let's remember -- Tebow didn't have to show that his mechanics were fixed, only improved. And given the low opinion of those mechanics before yesterday's workout, he had little place to go but up, which by all accounts, he did. As has been the case forever, he needs (and will get) 18-24 months of development time with whatever team drafts him -- I still maintain it will be the top of the 2nd round, in a relative scrum to get him. ↵

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↵CFB Spring Ball: Hey, remember when everyone wigged out that Urban Meyer was taking a "leave of absence?" Yeah, so: He's back. Who had "back for the start of spring practice" in the office pool? ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: Is there an NBA angle to the NCAA Tournament? Why, of course.... ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: And so the Cardinals' replacement for Kurt Warner will be... Derek Anderson? (The amusing thing is that he will probably beat out Matt Leinart, because who can't? Warner came in the same way Anderson did, and we saw what happened there. I'm not trying to compare Anderson, a journeyman, to Warner, a Hall of Famer. But the constant is that Leinart isn't very good.) ↵

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↵MLB Spring Training: Nelson Cruz hit 2 HR the same day I drafted him onto my fantasy team. Coincidence? I think not. (Meanwhile: It's hard for Cliff Lee to help the Mariners if he's suspended. It'll just be one start.) ↵

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↵Yikes: Ron Washington... ↵

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↵Coaching Carousel: That Seton Hall fired Bobby Gonzalez was not really a surprise. That Rutgers kept Fred Hill sure was. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Happy birthday to my wife, who won me over on our first date with her love of college basketball, then doubled-down five years later when she finished in the top 10 out of 10,000 in a Tournament pool that I was running. Last night, she was poring over offensive rebounding rate stats at kenpom.com in order to finalize her bracket. Good luck to everyone with their bracket! ↵

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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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