The defensive-minded Bruins against the run-and-gun Memphis Tigers. The game
will likely be determined by whichever team is able to control the tempo.
Ben Howland's club has been to the Final Four three times in a row, but is
still searching for that elusive national title. John Calipari's club will have
a chance at redemption after being knocked out by the Bruins two years ago in
the Elite Eight.
This matchup also features two of the top freshmen in the country — UCLA
big man Kevin Love and Memphis point guard Derrick Rose. Love has been dominant
virtually all season, while Rose has put it all together and been the primary
reason for the Tigers' run of late.
Love will be tested from a physical standpoint by Memphis big man Joey Dorsey, but the Tigers' athletic senior will need to be careful not to get into
early foul trouble. Chris Douglas-Roberts was a freshman on the team that lost
to UCLA, but he's a completely different player and has improved defensively and
with his perimeter shooting.
However, the Bruins haven't just added Love. They also replaced Arron Afflalo
with athletic guard Russell Westbrook, who is a terrific defender and can also
get to the basket.
Who Wins: UCLA
Why: The Bruins aren't facing Florida, the team that's eliminated them
the past two seasons. Ben Howland's team has the experience of getting to the
Final Four two consecutive times — and Love won't be intimidated by the
atmosphere. The Bruins defend and are improved from each of the last two seasons
with the addition of a low-post scorer in Love who also controls the glass.
The matchup: Darrin Collison vs. Derrick Rose — Two of the nation's
elite floor leaders. Both players set the tone and make their teams go. Collison
has more speed, but Rose is athletic and has been the difference-maker in the
Under-the-radar player who may make an impact: Shawn Taggert — The
Tigers' skilled forward could be bothersome to Love because of his length and
ability to step out and make shots from the perimeter.
Stat line: Memphis may be one of the worst free-throw shooting teams
in the country, but the Tigers made 30-of-36 from the line in the victory
Two teams that want to get out and run. Two of the most storied programs in
the history of college basketball. Tar Heels coach Roy Williams against his
Williams was unable to win a national title in his 15 seasons in Lawrence,
while current Kansas coach Bill Self has quieted the critics with a Final Four
berth in his fifth season.
This has all the makings of a track meet. The Tar Heels will try and run the
ball down KU's throat with speedy floor leader Ty Lawson, while Kansas coach
Bill Self will counter with a trio of guards — Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins.
The question is whether Kansas' big men can contain North Carolina big man
Tyler Hansbrough, who was sensational in the Elite Eight against Louisville.
Hansbrough is the front-runner for the National Player of the Year awards, but
he'll go up against a much-improved Jayhawks frontline of Darnell Jackson and
Who Wins: Kansas
Why: The pressure is now off the Jayhawks after they earned a berth to
San Antonio, so now they won't have to play nearly as tight as they did against
Davidson. This one comes down to defense — and Self's club has the personnel
to handle the perimeter play of Lawson and Wayne Ellington.
The matchup: Mario Chalmers vs. Wayne Ellington — The two best
perimeter shooters on the floor. Chalmers is also a terrific defensive player
and could make life difficult for the sweet-shooting Ellington.
Under-the-radar player who may make an impact: Sherron Collins — He
hasn't put it together all season, partially due to injuries, but he's got the
toughness to impose his will on this game.
Stat line: 30 — The combined number of Final Four appearances
between the two schools.
Jeff Goodman is a senior college basketball writer for FOXSports.com. He can
be reached at GoodmanonFOX@aol.com
or check out his blog, Good