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Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Time To Give Thanks

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Today's Calls: LeBron vs. 2010, Ball State vs. the BCS, Lions vs. Cowboys, Indiana vs. the NCAA, Stephen Curry vs. Luke Harangody, Lane Kiffin vs. Tennessee, Mark Teixeira vs. CC Sabathia, Wizards vs. Thunder and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: What should sports fans be thankful for this year? How about a year's worth: ↵

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↵January: Barack Obama's pick-up hoops jones. ↵

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↵February: Manning to Tyree. ↵

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↵March: Stephen Curry goes Dancing. ↵

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↵April: Mario Chalmers' shot. ↵

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↵May: Nate Silver, from PECOTA to political pundit. ↵

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↵June: Kevin Garnett's shrieking. ↵

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↵July: Albert Pujols' bat. ↵

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↵August: Michael Phelps and Dara Torres. ↵

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↵September: The Rays' ultimate Cinderella story. ↵

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↵October: Philly fans finally getting theirs. ↵

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↵November: Shaq on Twitter. ↵

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↵December: Tim Tebow wins another Heisman.* ↵

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↵(* - Hey, we're not in December yet. But why not? That's what I would be thankful for, along with my sincere thanks to you for following this column all year long.) ↵

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↵What you'll find after the jump: LeBron in NYC, Ball State perfection, setting up weekend BCS jockeying, thanks for the NFL on Thanksgiving, ripping the NCAA for Indiana's "punishment," goggle-eyes at Stephen Curry's goose-egg, Kiffin-to-Tennessee rumor-mongering and more. ↵

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↵LeBron in NYC: "We'll see what happens." As expected, the Garden crowd went crazy for him, even as he led the Cavs to a romp over the Knicks. The NYC fans could afford to be magnanimous in defeat — after all, he'll be suiting up for them in two years. What's not to root for? ↵

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↵For his part, LeBron did nothing to quash speculation — you could even say he encouraged it — with statements like "We'll see what happens" and "I think July 1, 2010 is a very big day." At what point will fans in Cleveland turn on LeBron for toying with them? (Eh: Probably July 1, 2010. Duh.) ↵

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↵Oh, and now the hot rumor is Steve Nash is going to come to the Knicks, too, to be reunited with Mike D'Antoni. I wouldn't doubt it, and I even see Nash taking a hometown discount — he's an adopted New Yorker in the offseason — especially given his age in 2010. ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: What a difference a new coach makes for the Wizards. The Wiz routed the Warriors 124-100 in Ed Tapscott's coaching debut, by far the best Wizards performance of the season (at 2-10, that's a low bar). ... Fantasy Stud: Is Andray Blatche about to explode under Tapscott? (25 pts, 12 reb, 5 ast, 5 blocks, 2 stl)... More losers: Close, but not quite for the Thunder vs. the Suns (but 29 for Kevin Durant in his debut playing small forward). ↵

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↵CFB Top 25: Ball State completes the 12-0 regular season. Next stop: MAC title game next week. And after that? A reward worthy of any 13-0 MAC team: The Motor City Bowl! ↵

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↵CFB Weekend Preview: It's time to jockey for BCS points! With Thanksgiving night all to itself, Texas will try to make beating lowly Texas A&M seem better than it is, while Oklahoma spends Saturday playing at Oklahoma State (BCS No. 12) and Florida plays at Florida State (BCS No. 20). ↵

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↵Meanwhile: Alabama tries not to ruin its perfect season vs. rival Auburn. ... USC will make Charlie Weis' final weeks at Notre Dame even more grim, while the Trojans scoreboard-watch the most meaningful Oregon-Oregon State game ever. ... Boise State looks to cap a 12-0, BCS Top 10 season. ↵

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↵Injury to Watch: Jacquizz Rodgers. Oregon State's freshman sensation — my national freshman player of the year — is "doubtful" for the Civil War, making it an iffy prop for OSU. Remember: If the Beavers win, they go to the Rose Bowl ahead of USC; but if they lose, USC is in the Rose Bowl. ↵

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↵Coaching Carousel: Lane Kiffin to Tennessee? That's the hot rumor. It would be a great hire, although at college football's highest levels — particularly the insanely competitive SEC coaching fraternity — recruiting is everything. (h/t: Hinton for legitimizing the rumors by pubbing them.) ↵

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↵NFL Weekend Preview: Thanksgiving NFL rules! I have made the argument in the past that it is, along with the Super Bowl, the NCAA Tournament first round and New Year's Day bowl games, the NFL on Thanksgiving is one of the Top 5 most enjoyable annual sports events of the year. ↵

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↵I am not a Lions fan, but one day a year, I root for the Lions; they deserve to win on Thanksgiving Day, this winless year more than any other I can remember. It would be a nice way to salvage an otherwise awful season. Unfortunately, they are playing the Titans, on short rest, but plenty motivated. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the other traditional Thanksgiving host — the Cowboys — are coming off a big win over the 49ers where T.O. went 200+, yet he said yesterday "I'm still not satisfied." You have to imagine he has something delightfully and entertainingly self-centered planned for the spotlight on Thursday afternoon vs. Seattle. ↵

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↵My Top 5 Favorite Week 13 Story lines: ↵(1) Game of the Week: Steelers at Pats (with that Pitt D vs. Matt "400" Cassel.) ↵

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↵(2) Playoff impact: What's the chance we realize in hindsight the NFC North was decided in this Bears-Vikes game? ↵

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↵(3) Jets best of the AFC? Sole possession of the AFC's second-best record in sight for Jets, vs. the Broncos. (They are No. 2 overall, according to Vinnie Iyer's Power Poll this week.) ↵

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↵(4) Warner vs. McNabb: On Thanksgiving night, two QBs having polar-opposite seasons. ↵

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↵(5) Brees-Marino Watch: The playoff-focused Saints get a tough challenge — the Bucs in Tampa. ↵

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↵Injury Watch: Brady Quinn is done for the season with that bad finger, and — overall — his season was a rough one. The two-QB situation will continue into the '09 season for the Browns. ↵

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↵Indiana hoops gets ... three years of probation?!?! That's IT?! IU recruited, hired and enabled the sport's most notable cheater of the past decade and the best the NCAA can do is to say: "Well, keep us updated on any no-no's!" Message to college coaches everywhere: Cheat away! ↵

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↵What an embarrassment for the NCAA. Are they really that worried that punishing Indiana in a way commensurate with the school's negligence — say, a postseason or TV ban — will hurt the sport or the school in the long-term? The fix was in here, I think. What a waste. ↵

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↵OK, as Spencer Hall points out, at least the NCAA made Kelvin Sampson toxic to hire at the college level ever again. And, if karma is a boomerang for IU, last night's 26-point loss to Saint Joseph's in Maui indicates that this season might offer punishment-by-humiliation. That's Mike DeCourcy's point, I think. ↵

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↵CBB Last Night: Notre Dame edges Texas, 81-80, in a great game between two Top 10 teams, highlighted by Luke Harangody's 29 and 13. We get another great match-up tonight when ND plays UNC, who walloped Oregon. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, here's a shocker: Stephen Curry was shut out. Zero points. Zilch. This after coming into the game averaging 35 ppg. He was blanked, because Loyola (MD) decided to double-team him the entire time he was in the game, even when he didn't have the ball. Thus: Loyola lost by 30. ↵

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↵Huge win for Syracuse, rallying to beat defending champ Kansas in OT in Kansas City. They went into this KC tournament unranked, having missed last year's NCAA tournament; they won't leave that way, on either count. (BTW: Has any team in NCAA history ever beaten the last two seasons' defending champs on back-to-back nights?) ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Red Sox snag Junichi Tazawa, the Japanese wunderkind (is there a Japanese word for wunderkind?) who will — somewhat controversially — will skip playing in the top Japanese league to go right to MLB. Another coup for the best front office in baseball. ↵

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↵Are the Angels ready to offer CC Sabathia a $140M deal? They are reportedly not interested in giving Mark Teixeira the 10-year deal he wants. (What a classic Scott Boras overreach. Of course, Boras knows what he's doing; there should be plenty of others ready to pay up for him.) ↵

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↵Did the Mitchell Report actually help baseball? George Mitchell thinks so. ↵

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↵"Citi/Taxpayer Field": I love that idea. ↵

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↵Pop Culture: I saw this ad on TV on Monday night and was transfixed. This basically looks like the greatest party ever. Kudos, adidas. (But how could they not invite Gilbert Arenas?) ↵

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↵The Last Word: Happy Thanksgiving! No column tomorrow or Friday. See you back here bright and early Monday morning! ↵

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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. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.