I must admit I never would of thought 4 No. 1 seeds would make it to the Final 4 and I would also be satisfied with the tournament so far. I always imagined myself rather upset if 4 No. 1 seeds made it to the Final 4 because that would mean the tournament had no upsets.
Well, as we all know that is not at all the case for this year's tournament. Before I breakdown the Final 4 matches here are 5 thoughts I say...
1. Texas faithful do not be upset your Longhorns lost in the Elite 8 for the second time in three years. This Texas team was a year ahead of schedule. I expect to see them in the future as Augustin continues to develop. Oh and that Memphis Tiger team was pretty darn talented too! Yeah Texas was over matched.
2. One of my friends is right, Kevin Love makes everything go for UCLA. Sure he can rebound, block, and score, but he really does even more. He is incredible at creating endless opportunities for the Bruins. Without him on the court I think UCLA is a completely different squad.
3. Throughout the year the two main men I knew that were great ball players for Memphis where Douglas-Roberts and Dorsey. I didn't really see how good Derek Rose until his game against Texas. Wow he's a sure lottery pick. Absolutely blew by Augustin countless times. I remember one instance that took my breath away. Rose grabbed a board, went coast-to-coast and drove right down the lane for layup in the Longhorns face. Wow.
4. Who hit those big shots for Xavier against West Virginia? BJ Raymond. Mr. Raymond was a fellow classmate of mine at St. John's Jesuit high school. I was happy to see him in his golden moment, but sad his team did lose that weekend to UCLA. Don't hang your head Raymond you lost to a UCLA team that could very easily win the whole tournament. Good job on putting St. John's Jesuit back on the map!
5. And finally no team lost with more honor than Davidson. Sorry Wildcats but I never gave you a chance in hell against the Jayhawks, yet in the end you had Kansas right where you wanted them. Stephen Curry seems to need about as much of an opening as Reggie Miller to get a shot off. Despite his 9/25 shooting I was overly impressed on just how successful he was at times despite KU players chasing him all over the court.
Memphis vs. UCLA
Storyline: Last week was not too difficult for both teams, especially Memphis which won both it's contests by 18 points. UCLA is entering a Final 4 matchup for the third consecutive year.
My Call: This tournament I have done better than in the past, which is why I am sticking with my original prediction that the Memphis Tigers will advance to the Finals. Everyone seems to be banking on UCLA winning the whole tournament, but I was really impressed with the Tigers thrashing of the Spartans and Longhorns this past week. I look at the lineups and I have to say the Tigers are going to bring it 100% at Love. Joey Dorsey, Robert Dozier, and Pierre Niles are all either 6'9" or 6'8". They are going to be putting a body on Love all night.
Plus, I look at Antonio Anderson the 6'6" who suffocated numerous opponents in the tourney so far. Prime example is sharpshooter Drew Neitzel.
And finally the exceptional play of Derek Rose. Rose is going to give Collison trouble all night.
76 Memphis 67 UCLA____________________________________________________________________________________
North Carolina vs. Kansas
Storyline: These teams have faced-off 3 times in NCAA Tournament. One of the most notable showdowns was the 54-53 triple overtime win the Tar Heels had over Wilt Chamberlin's Jayhawks in the championship game. (How do you only score 50 something points after 2 halves and 3 overtimes? Beats me.) UNC comes into this game with the best player in the nation in Tyler...oh let's stop with that nickname! His name is Psycho T. The Heels held off a strong Louisville team to reach another Final Four for Roy Williams. Kansas comes into this game with Coach Bill Self finally getting the monkey off his back. Kansas held off a the Cinderella story Davidson Wildcats with some clutch defense down the stretch.
My Call: I would hate to think one of these fan bases is going to be crushed come this weekend. Who will that loser be? North Carolina. Kansas will prevail in this game for a couple reasons. For one, I like Kansas's style of play. They are constantly running the court. I guess when I see Kansas I keep thinking there are a heck of a lot of seniors on that team. Not to say the underclassman for UNC are not serious about the game, its just there is a certain something dramatic for a basketball player to know in the back of his head, "This could be the last game I ever play in college."
Also, I like this Sasha Kaun character. Psycho T will outplay him, but Sasha will be the X-Factor in this game. If he gets hot, trouble could start right from the get-go for Roy Williams and Co.
Final Score: 73 Kansas 68 North Carolina
Storyline: Can Kansas finally win their first championship after Danny and the Miracles did it in 1988? Will Memphis's John Calipiri finally bring home some hardware?
My Call: Enjoy this Bruce Pearl, your Tennessee squad is the only one that beat the National Champion Memphis Tigers. Memphis will beat the Jayhawks in a very evenly matched game. First and foremost the athleticism on the court will have any NBA scout drooling. But the difference in who wins this game will be Derek Rose. I firmly believe this guy is a very dangerous player who is going to make some big shots in the final moments against Kansas to pull out a W. He will be a top 3 NBA draft pick.
Final Score: 72 Memphis 65 Kansas
Note: All Memphis, UNC, UCLA, and Kansas fans enjoy this moment right now because come this weekend it could be gone like that (for three of you). I am an LSU fan and loved the 2006 season, but just like that UCLA ripped our hearts out. Still, be proud your team got this far.