An inside look at the Final Four matchups - Memphis-UCLA, Kansas-North Carolina Print
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Thursday, 03 April 2008 11:45
NCAAB Headline News


 A quick look at Saturday's national semifinal matchups:
MEMPHIS VS. UCLA
MEMPHIS (37-1)
ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR: The top-seeded Tigers beat No. 16 Texas-Arlington 87-63; No. 8 Mississippi State 77-74; No. 5 Michigan State 92-74 and No. 2 Texas 85-67.
STARS: Junior guard Chris Douglas-Roberts (17.7 points, 4.2 rebounds) was a first-team All-America and freshman guard Derrick Rose (14.6 points, 4.7 assists), a third-team pick, lived up to the billing as the best point guard among a very talented group of first-year players.
COACH: John Calipari took Massachusetts to the Final Four in 1996, then left for a brief stint with the New Jersey Nets in the NBA. This is his eighth season at Memphis. The Tigers are 218-64 in that span, including 22-9 in the NCAA tournament.
KEY POINT: Reserve guard Andre Allen (3.3 points, 2.1 assists) has been suspended for the Final Four for violating team rules. The Tigers have taken an us-against-the-world mentality over what they perceive as a slight in being given a chance to win the national championship. Entering the tournament free throw shooting was the biggest question about the team, but the Tigers are 93-for-138 (67.4 percent) in the four NCAA games, well above their 60.7 mark for the season.
UCLA (35-3)
M 53-49; No. 12 Western Kentucky 88-78 and No. 3 Xavier 76-57.
STARS: Center Kevin Love (17.6 points, 10.7 rebounds) is just one of six freshmen to be selected first-team All-America since 1983, and his tough inside play has become the face of UCLA basketball. Junior guard Darren Collison (14.8 points, 3.8 assists), a tremendous free throw shooter who has made 83 of his 92 foul shots, was a third-team All-America.
COACH: Ben Howland has taken the Bruins to the Final Four three straight years. His 97 wins over that span, including a school-record 35 this season, is the best run in UCLA history.
KEY POINT: The Bruins have five players making their third Final Four appearance, the only ones with any experience among the four teams. It's still about defense for UCLA, the only team still playing that allows less than 60 points per game.
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KANSAS VS. NORTH CAROLINA
KANSAS (35-3)
ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR: The top-seeded Jayhawks beat No. 16 Portland State 85-61; No. 8 UNLV 75-56; No. 12 Villanova 72-57; and No. 10 Davidson 59-57.
STARS: Kansas is one of the few teams without a real star as shown by a balanced offense that has seven players averaging between 13.1 and 7.3 points. Brandon Rush, who was expected to be in the NBA this season until knee surgery forced him to return to school, is the top scorer with the 13.1 average.
COACH: Bill Self had been 0-4 in regional final appearances - two with Kansas - until this season. Regardless of this weekend's outcome he was able to shed that hated tag of best coach never to reach the Final Four.
KEY POINT: The Jayhawks make it work with balance and depth at both end of the court. Because there is no real star on whom to concentrate, Kansas is often able to ride the hot hand inside or on the perimeter.
NORTH CAROLINA (36-2)
ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR: The top-seeded Tar Heels beat No. 16 Mount St. Mary's, Md. 113-74; No. 9 Arkansas 108-77; No. 4 Washington State 68-47; and No. 3 Louisville 83-73.
STARS: Tyler Hansbrough was a unanimous first-team All-America after averaging 22.8 points and 10.3 rebounds, shooting 54 percent from the field and 81 percent from the line, all while leading the world in hustle plays. Sophomore point guard Ty Lawson missed seven games - including both losses - with an ankle injury, but he appears to be back to full speed.
COACH: Roy Williams is the only coach in the field with a national championship (2005) and he tied for fourth on the all-time list with six Final Four appearances, the same figure as the other three coaches here combined.
KEY POINT: The Tar Heels were the most dominant of the four top seeds, finally being tested by Louisville in the regional final. That was a big win for North Carolina because it erased the memory of last year's devastating overtime loss to Georgetown at the same point in the tournament.
 

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