Shanoff's WUC: Butler, Duke Final Four Faves

Today's Calls: Butler vs. Michigan State, Duke vs. West Virginia, NCAA 64 vs. NCAA 96, Baylor vs. UConn, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Magic vs. Mavericks, Colt McCoy vs. Sam Bradford and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: This Final Four is a perfectly unpredictable finale to a near-perfectly unpredictable Tournament. ↵

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↵It isn't that you can't make a case why each team can win on Saturday night -- it is the doubt that creeps in when you think about why they can't. ↵

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↵Butler will lose to Michigan State: ↵
↵Izzo with 6 days to prepare. ↵

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↵But Michigan State will lose to Butler: ↵
↵Did you watch Butler last weekend? ↵

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↵West Virginia will lose to Duke: ↵
↵Duke's guards > WVU's forwards. ↵

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↵But Duke will lose to West Virginia: ↵
↵Just like they did in March '08. ↵

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↵In the end, I don't trust my gut: My gut was the thing that promised "Oh, ABSOLUTELY the Final Four will include Kansas, Kentucky and Syracuse!" My gut is running in the 40th percentile nationally. ↵

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↵I trust what I've seen: That Butler had the most impressive two-game run in the regionals, beating two teams that are arguably better than this Michigan State team. That this Duke team isn't like those other, chokier Duke teams. ↵

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↵My pick: Butler and Duke advancing to the national championship game on Monday night. ↵

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↵NCAA Tournament Expansion: I just don't get the hysteria over expanding from 64 to 96. Just because the NCAA is lousy at talking about it doesn't mean that expanding the Tournament will actually damage the Tournament or college basketball, at least from a fan perspective. ↵

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↵Pundits hate it; fans will be fine. Diminishes the regular season? 90 percent of sports fans don't care all that much about the college hoops regular season anyway; they enjoy the Tournament, but not because of the number of teams in it. ↵

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↵The Tournament's essential elements are upsets, buzzer-beaters and socially acceptable gambling. Nothing about the 96-team Tournament will eliminate those things; you will get more of each. ↵

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↵Prediction: Next year, a No. 1 region seed will lose in its first game. (No, it's not the same as the mythical 16-over-1, but then again, that game has always been a de facto bye. Now, that new first game will be a lot tougher for the 1-seeds. For the top 8 seeds in each region, actually.) ↵

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↵MLB Opening Night: Yankees! Red Sox! That the season begins with the sport's biggest and best rivalry does give it a little more cachet. (My annual shallow MLB preview comes next week; my WS champ is playing in this game.) ↵

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↵MLB Great Read: I love these division-by-division previews. In honor of the opener, start with the AL East, then jump around from there. ↵

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↵NIT: Dayton! Just think: With a couple more wins during the regular season, the Flyers could have lost on the first day of the NCAA Tournament. Now, they are NIT champs. Meanwhile, they end UNC's sour season on a sour note. ↵

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↵Women's Tournament: Brittney Griner is quite the freshman sensation. But she'll get an education when Baylor loses to UConn by 30 in the Final Four on Sunday night. ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Are the Rams working out Colt McCoy to put some pressure on Sam Bradford to sign before the Draft? To signal that they are willing to trade out of the No. 1 spot to another team that wants to take a chance on Bradford's crumple-zone shoulder? Or to indicate that they can find a perfectly good QB in a later round, using their top pick on a sure thing like Ndamukong Suh? ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: Was the Magic win over the Mavs last night a preview of a very real NBA Bizarro Finals? (Meaning: Finals that is NOT Lakers-Cavs?) ↵

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↵NBA Draft: Al-Farouq Aminu is leaving Wake Forest. He is a consensus top 10 pick -- possibly top five, after a workout session. He could have gone pro last year and been a top 10 pick, too. ↵

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↵New media: Santonio Holmes is probably not a good fit for Twitter. ↵

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↵The Last Word: iPad. Who's getting one this weekend? ↵

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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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