Shanoff's WUC: The Greatest Miss Of All Time

Today's Calls: Butler vs. Duke, Kyle Singler vs. MOP, Gordon Hayward vs. the Rim, Coach K vs. Brad Stevens, Butler vs. 2011, UConn vs. History, Tiger vs. Masters Media, Jason Heyward vs. MLB, Roy Halladay vs. the NL, Albert Pujols vs. Anyone, Tim Tebow vs. Nike, Celtics vs. Cavs and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: I sincerely thought the shot was going in. ↵

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↵Or, as it might come to be known: "The Shot." ↵

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↵Which is kind of weird, if you think about it, given that it didn't go in. There hasn't been a more memorable miss in hoops history. ↵

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↵And, yet: That's what people were left with last night: What if? ↵

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↵Part of it was a backlash against Duke, specifically. Part of it was a backlash that you would have felt against any team that ruined the dream of Butler winning the national title. ↵

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↵We now find ourselves in an odd position: "Woulda-coulda-shoulda" rules. In some parallel universe, that shot goes in, and we have just witnessed the greatest play in sports history. ↵

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↵In reality, Butler won something different than a championship, and The Shot captures that: They won fans' hearts and minds, the loyalty of our memories. ↵

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↵When we look back on the 2010 season, we won't instantly think of the champ. We will remember Butler. ↵

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↵And we will remember how we felt for that exhilarating moment when that shot -- The Shot -- went up. ↵

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↵Duke as Champs: Truth be told, this Duke team was way more likable than previous editions (to the extent that Duke can ever be likable). And even if they ruined the night for almost everyone, people will remember that they played in -- and won -- one of the most exciting championship games in college hoops history. ↵

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↵What next for Butler: Brad Stevens always thought next year's team was the real contender. If everyone but the seniors stick around (including NBA prospect Gordon Hayward), this team has earned the No. 1 preseason ranking for 2010-11 and should be considered a contender to return to the Final Four. ↵

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↵Bracket Updates: ↵
↵Mine: 37th percentile ↵
↵Double last year's. Progress! ↵

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↵My wife's: 93rd percentile ↵
↵Another year, another domination. ↵

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↵Obama: 51st percentile ↵
↵Way down from a year ago. ↵

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↵National Bracket: 62nd percentile ↵
↵No wisdom of the crowd this year. ↵

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↵Women's Final: I stand corrected. If UConn wins tonight -- which they will, in a rout, because that's what they have done all year -- they will not be as highly regarded as that 2002 juggernaut title team. But this year's team will be on the short list for greatest women's hoops teams of all time. Next stop: 100 straight. (That's right: I'm not even entertaining the idea that Stanford might win.) ↵

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↵Tiger at Augusta: His press conference was as canned as everyone thought it would be. He insisted he never used PEDs and filled us in that Elin won't be at the Masters to root him on. Neither were surprising. The big question -- and you can only really answer this yourself -- is how sincere you think he is. ↵

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↵The new mo -- again, as expected -- is to let the past 5 months lie and focus on the golfer, not the guy. (Today's frenzy: Which lucky golfers will get paired with Tiger in the 1st round? Unprecedented visibility for whomever it is.) ↵

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↵MLB Opening Day: Heyward Mania ↵

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↵• Rookie Watch: J-Hey HR in 1st MLB at-bat! ↵

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↵• Is it too early to call 2010 NL MVP for Pujols? ↵

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↵• Halladay Phillies debut: 1 W down, 29 to go. ↵

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↵• Good omen for the Mariners ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: Garrett Jones (2 HR) ↵

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↵• Today's Opener: Orioles vs. Rays ↵

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↵• OMG: The Buehrle Play. ↵

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↵Obama's First Pitch: High and outside. At least he avoided the mom jeans this year. He wore a Nats jacket after last year's Sox jacket p.r. snafu. But he kept the Sox hat on, which I approve of. It's his team! ↵

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↵McNabb Reaction, Cont'd: After the initial shock wore off, I think the fan sentiment largely seems to be enthusiasm out of DC and perhaps a bit of remorse out of Philly. No city had a more half-hearted relationship with one of its star athletes. (I mean: Even New Yorkers finally embraced A-Rod. Guess that's the difference between being a champ and not.) ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Rams release Bulger. This was a foregone conclusion. Two questions: (1) Who replaces him in St. Louis? (Bradford) (2) Where does Bulger end up? (Would instantly be one of the best backups in the league.) ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: One more reason that individual regular-season results are meaningless? Celtics over Cavs. Let's see how that holds up when it really matters, a month from now. ↵

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↵Coach K may not want the Nets job but I can bet there are plenty of other coaches who would give up their current jobs for $12-15M a year. (Hey, how about cutting that down by 75 percent and making an offer to Brad Stevens?) ↵

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↵Basketball Hall of Fame: This is a tremendous class, featuring the player who redefined power forward (Karl Malone), the player who redefined sidekick (Scottie Pippen), one of the most successful owners (Jerry Buss), one of the most successful coaches (Bob Hurley), one of the best women's players (Cynthia Cooper), the best team of all time ("Dream Team") AND the late Dennis Johnson, who might have been the least-hated Celtic of the 80s. ↵

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↵Business: Tim Tebow signed a big deal with Nike -- unsurprising, and yet still remarkable given that we are talking about, in all likelihood, a 2nd-round draft pick getting a $300,000 endorsement deal. Tebow will be the endorsement champ of the class and likely end up in the NFL's Top 10 in endorsement earnings by Kickoff '10. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "They fought like sons of guns. We had two great looks for a national championship. You can't ask for anything more than that." -- Brad Stevens ↵

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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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