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Memphis vs. Kansas Preview

Memphis vs. Kansas Preview

Memphis vs. Kansas
By Brian Edwards

With four No. 1 seeds advancing to the Final Four for the first time since the field expanded in 1985, the national semifinals seemed to have the makings of one of the best ever.

But that didn’t happen.

Memphis and Kansas came to San Antonio and rolled to easy wins over UCLA and North Carolina, respectively.

The Tigers allowed the Bruins to produce a run late in the first half to make things respectable (38-35), but all that did was allow gamblers to press their Memphis wagers at halftime.

Seriously, it was crystal clear from the get-go that Memphis (38-1 straight up, 18-19 against the spread) was bigger, better, faster and stronger than UCLA. For the third consecutive season, Ben Howland’s team came to the Final Four and got completely outclassed.

When the brutal bludgeoning was complete, John Calipari’s team had captured a 78-63 win as a two-point favorite. As this space indicated beforehand, Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts were the premier players on the court.

CDR produced a game-high 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the floor. Rose scored 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists. And he dominated UCLA point guard Darren Collison on both ends of the court (more on Collison below).

Joey Dorsey didn’t score a point, but he was the baddest man in the paint, owning the glass with a game-high 15 rebounds. He also had a pair of assists, two blocked shots and one steal. Most importantly, he was the lead defender on UCLA freshman sensation Kevin Love, who finished with just 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field.

Memphis, one of the nation’s worst free-throw shooting team entering the Tournament, drained 20-of-23 attempts from the charity stripe for an 87 percent ratio.

Kansas (36-3 SU, 22-15 ATS) exploded on North Carolina in the early going, holding the Tar Heels without a basket for more than nine minutes while building a 40-12 lead. If Brandon Rush (25 points, seven rebounds) wasn’t slicing and dicing his way through UNC’s defense for easy looks at the basket, then Mario Chalmers or Sherron Collins was penetrating into the lane and either finishing or finding an open teammate.

Trailing 40-12, UNC answered with 10 consecutive points and the deficit was down to 44-27 by intermission. This created an enticing situation for bettors. With the Tar Heels down by 17, they were tabbed as eight-point favorites in the second half at most spots.

This equated to North Carolina as a nine-point underdog, providing gamblers with 12 points of value from the original line since UNC closed as a three-point ‘chalk.’ You just knew Carolina was going to make its run, but I cautioned clients that “a second-half run might take too much out of UNC.” I had no doubt that the Heels would surge ahead of the second-half number, but was worried that KU would then answer and win by double digits (thus covering second-half wagers).

That’s exactly what happened, leaving me happy that I abstained from a halftime bet. Kansas played tight early in the second half, allowing UNC to pull within five with nine minutes left.

Roy Williams’s team seemed to have the momentum and the UNC faithful were going nuts, thinking its team was en route to the most stirring comeback in NCAA Tournament history. But it wasn’t to be.

This wasn’t about North Carolina. This game was all about Kansas, all about putting Ol’ Roy’s 15-year tenure in the rearview mirror, all about the KU faithful accepting Bill Self as its man to lead them into the future.

It was all about forgetting Bucknell and Bradley and choosing not to worry about T. Boone Pickens and the job vacancy at Self’s alma mater. This was about KU getting one step away from a national title.

When the horn sounded, the Jayhawks had an 84-66 win as three-point underdogs. They hooked up money-line backers with a payout in the plus 140 range.

Moving to tonight’s game, Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the line at a pick ‘em with a total of 146. As of early this morning, most spots had Memphis listed as a two-point favorite with a total of 146½. Gamblers can take KU on the money line for plus 110 return (risk $100 to win $110).

Tip-off is scheduled for 9:15 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--The ‘over’ is 22-17 overall for Memphis, while the ‘under’ is 20-17 overall for KU. The Jayhawks have seen the ‘under’ cash in all five of their games during the Tournament. On the flip side, the Tigers have watched the ‘over’ hit in all five of their contests during the Big Dance.

--UCLA’s Darren Collison played like the ultimate GOAT against Memphis. His fifth foul with 2:53 left (at halfcourt, reaching in for no reason) was his lame way of saying “uncle.” He was telling America that I want NOTHING to do with Derrick Rose or any of this Memphis squad that has pushed me around all day and made me look like a chump (sort of similar to the way Corey Brewer dealt with Aaron Afflalo in the Final Four the two previous years). Collison’s final stat line looked like this: two points on 1-of-9 shooting, four assists and five turnovers.

--Rose missed Sunday’s media sessions with a stomach ailment, but he’s expected to be fine for tonight. CDR laughed about it, telling the press that Rose “eats too many gummy bears.”

--Memphis is gunning for its first national championship in school history, while Kansas is hoping to cut the nets down for the first time in 20 years, when Danny Manning led the Jayhawks over Oklahoma (think Mookie Blaylock, Stacey King and head coach Billy Tubbs) in the 1988 title game.

--Before Saturday's underdog spot against North Carolina, Kansas had been favored in its 38 previous games. In fact, the Jayhawks were double-digit favorites in 32 of their first 38 games. Meanwhile, Memphis owns a 7-4 spread record as a single-digit 'chalk.'

--I have the side and total in my pick pack tonight. My play on the side is a pay-if-it-wins-only selection. I'm 3-0 in the last three title games with cashers on Florida (twice) and North Carolina. I also had Syracuse on the money line as an underdog in the 2003 title game.

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Re: Memphis vs. Kansas Preview

Monday NCAAB Gameday

March Madness will finally come to a close on Monday night, as the Kansas Jayhawks battle the Memphis Tigers at the Alamodome in San Antonio in the championship game.

And both the Jayhawks and the Tigers are coming off impressive victories in the semi-final round on Saturday night. Kansas was an underdog against the North Carolina Tar Heels, but they got off to a great start and put away the tourney's overall top seed. Memphis turned some doubters around with a big second half in taking care of UCLA.

Brandon Rush led the way with 25 points for Kansas in their 84-66 win over the Tar Heels. The Jayhawks jumped out to a 44-27 halftime lead in that contest, and played the opposition about even in the second half to secure the win. Darnell Jackson picked up 12 points for Kansas, while Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins each had 11 points.

Memphis was up by just three points on the Bruins at the half on Saturday, but they outscored UCLA 40-28 after the break to come out with a 78-63 win. Chris Douglas-Roberts poured in a game-high 28 points for the Tigers on Saturday night, while Derrick Rose picked up 25 points and nine boards. Joey Dorsey chipped in with 15 rebounds.

The Tigers had been favored by 2 points against UCLA, and they had no trouble covering that spread. That marked the third straight cover for Memphis; they beat Texas 85-67 as 3.5-point favorites in the previous round, and Michigan State 92-74 as 5.5-point favorites in the game before that one. Memphis suffered ATS losses in their first two tournament games - they opened with an 87-63 win over Texas-Arlington as huge 26.5-point favorites, and they then just edged Mississippi State 77-74 as 9-point faves.

The Jayhawks were 3-point underdogs against North Carolina as they picked up their fourth ATS victory of the tournament. Kansas only failed to cover the spread in their 59-57 close call versus Davidson, in which they were listed as 10-point favorites. The Jayhawks managed to cover double-digit spreads in their first three games, beating Portland State 85-61 (-21), then UNLV 75-56 (-13.5), and then Villanova 72-57 (-12.5).

Totals bettors are going to see a trend come to an end for one team or the other on Monday night. The Jayhawks have turned in five UNDER results so far during the tournament, while the Tigers have played in five OVER games. The totals for Kansas' matchups have ranged from 136.5 to 158, and the Jayhawks haven't allowed any team to score more than 66 points on them in the tourney. Memphis' posted totals have been lower (ranging from 134 to 144.5), and they've scored at least 77 points each contest.

Vegas oddsmakers opened the total for the Kansas/Memphis matchup at 145.5 points, while the Tigers have started out as a 1.5-point favorite. The tipoff is set for 9:21pm ET.

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Re: Memphis vs. Kansas Preview

NCAA Championship game cheat sheet

And then there were two.The season began with 325 Division 1 men’s basketball teams. Now, only two survive as Kansas and Memphis battle for supremacy Monday night. In what has been the strongest Final Four pairing in the history of the tourney it’s only fitting the two best teams will take the floor for the final dance.

Separating the two is like casting a vote between the final two contestants in a beauty pageant. They are both worthy of wearing the crown, even if they have a flaw or two. First off, let’s be certain of one indisputable fact – Memphis is that good. They are not just national championship game material good, they are most victories ever in a season good. No team at this level has ever won 38 games in a season. In fact, In 172 games with UCLA, only four teams had handled a Ben Howland-coached UCLA squad by a larger margin than did the Tigers last Saturday… and this is Howland’s best team ever.

That’s not to refute the job Kansas did in a most-convincing 84-66 win over North Carolina. It marked the worst defeat by a Tar Heel team in the Roy Williams era at UNC. And in case you forgot, Carolina was not only the top-ranked team in the land, they were also 22-0 SU and 14-7-1 ATS away from Chapel Hill this season. Putting the two teams on a scale, and according to our database, we find these interesting stats and facts to ponder.

Memphis wins because:

• favorites of 5 or less points in NCAA championship games are 10-0 SU and ATS in the last ten tries

• five returning starter teams are 3-1 SU and ATS in NCAA championship games this decade (see Florida last year)

• teams who covered the Final Four game by 14 or more points (Kansas) are 1-5 SU and ATS in title games

Kansas wins because:

• defense prevails in championship games and the Jayhawks have allowed more than 80 points in only two games this season

• Big 12 teams are 7-2 SU and ATS against Conference USA teams in NCAA tourney play, including 6-0 when playing off an ATS win

• head coach Bill Self is 16-6 SU and 16-4 ATS in his career in games off a SU underdog win, including 16-3 SU and 15-2 ATS as a favorite or dog of less than 6 points.

Like the teams themselves, some pretty impressive numbers to say the least. So who will carry away this year’s prized trophy? Check out my take and the deciding reason why, on my page. I think you’ll like what you read.

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