Shanoff's WUC: Izzo Era, Duke Back, Butler!

Today's Calls: Tom Izzo vs. History, Duke vs. (Recent) History, Butler vs. "Hoosiers", Kentucky vs. Chokery, Brackets vs. Busted, UConn women vs. Anyone, Sam Bradford vs. NFL D-linemen, Tim Tebow vs. Jim Kelly and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: It's official: We are living in the Izzo Dynasty. ↵

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↵When we look back at college hoops history 10, 20, 30 years from now, what will stand out most won't be Carmelo's one-and-done title or UNC's two titles with two totally different teams or even Florida's back-to-back champs. ↵

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↵In a sport defined by its championship tournament and whose currency is the Final Four, we will remember the coach who led his team to six Final Four appearances in 12 years between 1999 and 2010. ↵

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↵The Izzo Era. The Izzo Majority. The Izzo Dynasty. ↵

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↵Butler is a wonderful -- even cliched -- story. As is West Virginia, particularly in knocking off Kentucky. And even Duke (finally) getting back to the Final Four. ↵

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↵But entering the Final Four round of one of the most unpredictable tournaments in the history of the sport, the only thing anyone can say with certainty is that Tom Izzo is, right now, the best coach in college basketball. ↵

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↵If nothing else, yet another Final Four earns him that title. ↵

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↵DeCourcy picks Duke to win it all. That is all. ↵

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↵Butler Mania: I want to be able to buy a derivative that pays me every time "Butler" and "Hoosiers" show up together in a Google Alert this week. The story -- the small Indiana school heads home for the Final Four -- is among the great storybook moments in Tournament history. Why shouldn't this team be favored to win it all in Indy? (DeCourcy makes a terrific point: Because they haven't scored in the Tournament like the profile of a NCAA champ.) ↵

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↵West Virginia bounces Kentucky: As far as signature wins from this Tournament go, WVU's win over UK was a highlight -- hard fought and absurdly thrilling, particularly that "No-2's" 1st half by the 'Eers. ↵

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↵Let's focus on Kentucky: 4 NBA Lottery picks in the starting lineup -- including the best PG in a generation -- and Calipari & Co. couldn't get it done. Blame the poor 3-point shooting, but really, they freaked out from the pressure. And with good reason, because make no mistake: The season ends as a failure. ↵

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↵Duke rights the ship: You could argue their path was the least arduous of any 1-seed, but Baylor turned out to be as strong of a challenge as any 1-seed had to face. That was exactly the kind of team Duke has lost to during their recent Tourney slump, and for that win they get a hat-tip (even from a longtime Duke-hater) for the result. ↵

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↵(That said: I spent most of the final 5 minutes of that game shouting at the screen about the unfairness of it all: The lucky offensive rebounds, the foul calls in their favor. That T on Baylor. COME ON.) ↵

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↵Good Read: Fagan with a quick-hit profile of all four Final Four teams. ↵

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↵Bracket Update: 40th percentile nationally, after missing out on all four Final Four teams. (As bad as that seems, it's still twice as good as I did last year. Meanwhile, my wife is in the 97th percentile; I am so lucky.) ↵

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↵Obama Bracket: 56th percentile, after just missing on Kansas State and Kentucky -- and totally whiffing on Duke. Not much chance to do better, either. (If you did the National Bracket, you'd be in the 70th percentile.) ↵

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↵Women's Tournament: I tuned in for UConn's game against Iowa State yesterday. Good grief: It needed a Little League "slaughter rule." Is this UConn team the best basketball team in women's history -- or any basketball history? ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Sam Bradford has his Pro Day workout today, but watching him throw contrived passes can't possibly reveal what NFL execs really need to know: Can he take a pounding from NFL D-linemen? ↵

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↵Tebow Watch: Visiting the Bills in Buffalo today -- Bills on the short list of teams that seem to have a big interest in Tebow, plus enough need to want to draft him. (But would Buffalo really take him at No. 9?) ↵

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↵NFL Offseason Workouts: You would think that Big Ben would immerse himself in football, if only to change the subject from ... well, anything else. But he is skipping the Steelers' workouts this week. ↵

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↵CFB: Urban said he's sorry. Meyer is savvy enough to recognize that you don't pick a fight with the folks who stand in between you and the fans. (And, if you do pick that fight, you clean it up quickly.) ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: In a league where the Lakers are the obvious pick to win the West in the upcoming playoffs, the only intrigue is figuring out which teams can avoid a matchup with the Lakers in the 1st round. ↵

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↵CBB Coaching Carousel: You have to wonder how "in shape" Steve Lavin is as a coach after his years as a TV analyst. But, on the flip side, he would bring TV cachet to the job in the country's biggest media market. ↵

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↵(Hires: Siena's Fran McCaffery to Iowa -- does the lifelong East Coaster have the regional connections? Iona's Kevin Willard to Seton Hall -- as long as he is a pleasant personality, he will be a welcome change of pace.) ↵

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↵MLB Spring Training: Is this the season that Clayton Kershaw finally fulfills his potential? ↵

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↵Economics: Did you really need a study to figure out that the Yankees have the highest average salary of any sports team in the world? ↵

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↵Media: For all the "Hoosiers" charm of Butler and national cachet of Duke, it will be interesting to see if fans tune in for the "small team vs. perennial Final Four power" or "hard-nosed afterthoughts vs. blue-bloods." The CBS dream scenario is Butler vs. Duke. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "That basically was the national championship game. We have a chance at this, we could win going away." -- West Virginia's Wellington Smith, on WVU's win over Kentucky. ↵

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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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