Silver Chips Online

Final Four Preview

Number ones all the way

By Anshul Sood, Online Sports Editor
April 4, 2008
In the preseason polls, they were the top four ranked teams. When the NCAA men's tournament began, they were the four number one seeds. And now they make up the Final Four. UCLA, Kansas, UNC, and Memphis have stayed atop the college ranks all season, but only one will be crowned the champion. If you can't understand Dick Vitale, then Silver Chips Online is the place for all your Final Four needs.

UCLA vs. Memphis

UCLA

UCLA has been to the Final Four in three consecutive seasons now, losing to the eventual champion Florida both times. But this season, Florida is out and UCLA has something they haven't had in a long time: a dominant big man in Kevin Love. Love, just a freshman, is averaging 17.6 points per game to go along with 10.7 rebounds. Aside from being a dominant force inside, Love can step away from the basket and knock down the three.
UCLA's Kevin Love's tremendous inside presence will test Memphis' 2-3 zone defense. <i>Courtesy of AP Photo.</i>
UCLA's Kevin Love's tremendous inside presence will test Memphis' 2-3 zone defense. Courtesy of AP Photo.


UCLA also has a veteran star in junior guard Darren Collison, who is a perfect complement to Love. Collison has shot above 50 percent from beyond the arc this season and is averaging 14.8 points per game. Though Love does most of the scoring, Collison is the go-to man on the team who will control the flow of the game.

The Bruins' defense has been outstanding thus far in the NCAA tournament. In the opening round, they held Mississippi Valley to only 29 points. In their four tournament games, they have allowed the fifth least points per game of any team since the tournament expanded to 64 teams.

Memphis

Memphis has two sensational guards in junior Chris Douglas-Roberts and freshman Derrick Rose, who are averaging 17.7 and 14.6 points per game respectively. Both were key in Memphis's win over Texas in the regional finals. Inside, Memphis has a force to match up with Love in senior Joey Dorsey, a beast on the boards who leads the team with 9.6 rebounds per game.

The Tigers have not been to the Final Four since 1985. In 2006, the Tigers were ousted by the Bruins in the Elite Eight. The Tigers struggled against Mississippi State in the second round, winning by only three points. Their defense has not been at its very best, giving up 69.5 points per game in the tournament.

Deciding Factor

Memphis has been criticized all year for their poor free throw shooting. Their leading shooter at the charity stripe is Douglas-Roberts, who is shooting just 70.9% from the free throw line this season. But in the regional finals, they hit some key free throws down the stretch to pull away for the victory. If Memphis wants to win and advance to the championship game, they are going to need to step up their free throw shooting because UCLA will take advantage of that.

Prediction: Memphis

Kansas vs. UNC

Kansas

In a gut-wrenching Regional Final matchup, the Kansas Jayhawks escaped with a
Who will win the 2008 championship?
  • Kansas
  • Memphis
  • UCLA
  • UNC
Discuss this Poll
win over Cinderella team Davidson. But the rest of the Jayhawks' tournament games have been solid victories, with Kansas scoring 72.8 points per game in the tournament. However, their scoring has dropped in each of their four games, so momentum is against them.

Kansas is led by junior guard Brandon Rush, who is averaging 13.1 points per game and shooting nearly 43 percent from beyond the arc. Rush has been sensational all season long and has the ability to control the tempo of a game.

Kansas's defense has been strong in the tournament, giving up only 57.8 points per game with 61 points being the highest scored against them. But UNC is a force on offense, so the Jayhawks will have to continue their solid defensive performance in order to advance to the championship game.

UNC

North Carolina has been a dominant offensive team all throughout the tournament, practically cruising through each matchup. The only real adversity they faced came from Louisville in the regional finals, but the Tar Heels composed themselves and won by 10. UNC has won by double-digits in each of their four games. The last three teams to do that in the NCAA tournament won the championship.
Tyler Hansbrough leads the Tar Heels' potent offense. <i>Courtesy of AP Photo.</i>
Tyler Hansbrough leads the Tar Heels' potent offense. Courtesy of AP Photo.


The Tar Heels are averaging 93 points per game in the tournament so far, including scoring in triple-figures in the opening two rounds. UNC is led by All-American junior forward Tyler Hansbrough, who is averaging 22.8 points per game to go along with 10.3 rebounds. Hansbrough, a current finalist for the Naismith College Player of the Year award, is doing it all for the Tar Heels and will be the go-to man down the stretch.

The return of sophomore guard Ty Lawson has also been a huge boost for the Tar Heels in the tournament. Lawson's penetrating ability and play-making skills have made his teammates better as well. A force on defense, Lawson leads the team with 1.6 steals per game.

Deciding Factor

This game may come down to whether or not the Jayhawks can simply match the offensive output of the Tar Heels. UNC has been the most dominant team in the tournament so far, and if Kansas cannot slow down their offense, the Jayhawks better put up just as many points to stay alive. To do that, they need to prevent penetration from Lawson and contain Hansbrough inside.

Prediction: UNC

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