OK, so who has made the most
progress since the Nov. 23 National Invitation Tournament semifinal in New York
City in which the Memphis Tigers prevailed over the UCLA Bruins,
We’ll find out Saturday evening,
when the teams have a rematch four months later in the NCAA Tournament’s Oakland
But, in reality, the Bruins will
have to have gained considerably on John
Calipari’s squad since the Tigers dominated that contest, for the most part,
leading by 17 points at intermission.
In Saturday’s first final, top seed
Duke takes on No. 2 Texas in Atlanta.
Whoops! Check that! It will be LSU
that faces the Longhorns with a Final Four berth at stake, less than two days
after the Tigers stunned the Blue Devils Thursday night,
A closer look at Saturday’s
No. 2 Texas (30-6) vs. No. 4 LSU (26-8),
Things to consider: The Longhorns
manhandled West Virginia in the
lane and along the baseline, out-rebounding the Mountaineers, 43-15.
Texas isn’t going to come close to
getting that kind of domination against a Tigers’ team that has a frontcourt of
Tyrus Thomas, Glen Davis and Tasmin Mitchell, as well as reserve Darnell Lazare, who was an unsung hero
in the first half against Duke Thursday night. But the Tigers also don’t have
anything close to the perimeter attack that West
Virginia (which hit 15 3-pointers) nearly beat
Texas with. Watch a potential
matchup (when Texas is in
man-to-man) between the Longhorns’ LaMarcus Aldridge and the Tigers’
Thomas. Dozens of NBA talent evaluators will take a peek, that’s for
Frank’s Spin: This could be the most
competitive, and most entertaining, of the four regional finals this weekend.
Unless the Tigers knock in a bunch of jump shots, look for the Longhorns to
No. 1 Memphis (33-3) vs. No. 2 UCLA (30-6),
Things to consider: The Tigers are
stuck in a rut – they’ve won each of their tournament games by margins of 16
points. The Bruins, on the other hand, had to survive a late 3-point attempt by
Ronald Steele to get by Alabama in
Round 2, and had to overcome deficits of 17 (first half) and 14 (second half)
points Thursday night to beat a Gonzaga team that had outplayed them for the
better part of 37 minutes. As is the case in most basketball games that don’t
come close to getting the attention that will be showered upon this one, the
outcome will be decided in large part on which team can dictate its playing
style. The Bruins would prefer more of a 47-foot contest; the Tigers, a better
transition team, want to make it endline-to-endline.
Frank’s Spin: UCLA can beat the top
seed if it is able force the Tigers to guard its half-court offense for long
stretches of the clock, limit its turnovers and keep the “easy” (transition
buckets and second shots) Memphis points to a minimum. With as well as the
Tigers are playing right now, that’s probably too many “ifs”.
Memphis becomes the second
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com’s national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach Press-Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more of Burlison’s pieces at www.frankhoops.com.