Shanoff's WUC: 4 Questions About The Final 4

Today's Calls: Gordon Hayward vs. Da'Sean Butler, Butler vs. Michigan State, Duke vs. West Virginia, UConn women vs. Anyone, Steve Lavin vs. Tim Floyd, Tubby Smith vs. Oregon, Dez Bryant vs. NFL Draftniks, Phil Jackson vs. Bob Hurley, Scott Kazmir vs. Aroldis Chapman and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: My family enjoyed a fulfilling Passover seder last night, and inspired by that, I came up with "Four Questions" about the upcoming Final Four: ↵

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↵(1) Why is everyone patting Butler on the head but giving them little chance to win the championship? (No team had a more impressive pair of wins in the regionals than the Bulldogs.) ↵

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↵(2) Why would Michigan State spoil the Butler homecoming? (Even without Kalin Lucas, giving Tom Izzo a week to get ready for a Tournament game is as much of an advantage as any team has in Indy.) ↵

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↵(3) Why is West Virginia so easy to root for? (For starters, they are playing -- and could be responsible for the elimination of -- Duke. And as we saw in the second round of the '08 Tournament, WVU has no fear of the Dukies.) ↵

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↵(4) Why does everyone assume that Duke will win? (Actually: Why?!? Besides, every time I try to make a Final Four prediction , I talk myself into reversing for the other team. We'll get there by Friday.) ↵

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↵Plus a bonus question: Why aren't more people paying attention to what is going on over at the women's bracket, where UConn is routing teams and staking its claim as the best women's team of all time? ↵

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↵Final Four Preview: Butler vs. Michigan St. Korie Lucious vs. Ronald Nored. ↵

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↵(FWIW: Ryan Fagan says that Butler's Gordon Hayward is the Final Four's most important player.) ↵

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↵Final Four Preview: Duke vs. West Virginia. Duke's offense vs. WVU's D. ↵

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↵(FWIW: Mike DeCourcy says that Da'Sean Butler is the FF's M.I.P.) ↵

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↵UConn women roll again: What was that I was saying yesterday about FSU being lucky if they keep from being doubled up? The Huskies continue a march that could end with them as the greatest women's team of all time. ↵

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↵NIT Semis: No, we can't call it "Final Four." But we can note the irony that, coming off its woeful season, UNC has made it to the NIT finals, where they will play Dayton. ↵

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↵CBB Coaching Carousel: ↵

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↵*St. John's hires Steve Lavin: If nothing else, he brings the cachet of having been an ESPN analyst. It's another question entirely whether he can wrangle the city's wretched AAU underbelly. ↵

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↵*UTEP hires Tim Floyd: I love that they had to get "assurances" that Floyd wouldn't be punished by the NCAA for his part in the USC/Mayo scandals. What a great way to start a relationship. ↵

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↵*Oregon gives an offer to Tubby Smith? Well, it's not like they were going to get Tom Izzo, and while Oregon feels like a lateral move from Minnesota, you can't beat that extra Nike money that flows into Eugene. (BTW: Smith says an offer hasn't been made.) ↵

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↵*Louisville gives Pitino a 4Y extension: With all this talk about big offers from the likes of Oregon and St. John's, L'ville undoubtedly wanted to make sure their guy was happy. Not that it would stop him from leaving, if that's what he wanted to do. ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Dez Bryant had a slow workout, and it will probably cost him a bunch of spots -- and a bunch of money -- in 3 weeks. I don't believe in putting too much stock in these 40 times; if he slips to a playoff team, he could be a Rookie of the Year candidate, not unlike Percy Harvin, another WR who slipped in the draft last year. ↵

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↵McNabb Watch: Oh, so now the Raiders AREN'T interested? ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: So if I'm hearing Phil Jackson right, if the Lakers don't make the NBA Finals, there's a good chance he won't come back next season? (It's a good thing the Lakers are not just winning the West, but repeating as champs.) ↵

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↵MLB Spring Training: We're at the end, teams are figuring out their back-of-the-rotation starters -- and it is your last chance to finagle a couple of fantasy sleepers, particularly at SP. (Could Scott Kazmir qualify?) Meanwhile, Reds rookie sensation Aroldis Chapman is, like Steven Strasburg, going to the minors. ↵

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↵Pat Venditte always gets a mention when possible. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "The Street Stops Here," a terrific documentary about legendary h.s. hoops coach Bob Hurley, airs on your local PBS station tonight. Check listings. (Disclosure: I did some early development work on the film.) ↵

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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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