In a town where sequels are the norm, UCLA is doing its part with a third straight Final Four appearance. But experience alone isn't what makes
Memphis finally reached the Final Four after losing in the Elite Eight the past two seasons and, much like the Bruins, the difference in this team is a freshman -- point guard
Collison has teamed with Love to form a potent scoring punch, though he has been erratic in the tournament, offsetting 21- and 19-point games with five- and four-point outings while turning the ball over four times in each of the last three games. But he has a knack for
If not for
The Pac-10 defensive player of the year has slid into the lock-down defender role, which was vacated by
Like Westbrook, Anderson is a defensive standout for his team and has the size and long limbs to wreak havoc. His offensive stats aren't overwhelming, but he stays out of foul trouble and is averaging more minutes (28 or more in the last two seasons) than any player on the Tigers' roster.
Shipp's season has been puzzling. He averaged 15 points over the first 10 games, but in the tourney his average has dropped to just 6.2 points, including zero points in 37 minutes against Texas A&M. He's attempted nine free throws in four games. His shooting woes haven't kept UCLA from the Final Four, but it's hard to envision the Bruins winning a title without him snapping out of his slump.
He doesn't get the love of many of the Final Four's biggest names but Douglas-Roberts can score with the best of them. He's only gotten better in the tourney, averaging 19 ppg, including back-to-back 25-point outbursts. His long arms, quick release and body control make him a tough defensive assignment.
The Prince has been bothered for most of the season by a re-aggravated sprained left ankle, but he showed little sign of soreness in the Bruins' Elite Eight win with a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds). Still a relative neophyte when it comes to hoops, Mbah a Moute is a versatile player who does the dirty work and can take pressure off of Love inside.
Dorsey has already shown a maturity that was missing last season when he called out Ohio State's
The latest in a long line of star UCLA big men has somehow gotten better as the lights have grown brighter with double-doubles in each of the last three games. The first-team All-America's best attribute isn't his prowess in the paint -- offensively or defensively -- or his mid-range jumper. Love is a master of the outlet pass and is as instrumental in the Bruins' break as Collison.
He's a streaky scorer who has hit double-figures in just two of the last 10 games, but what Dozier brings to the table is an athletic shot-blocker who is strong on the glass. That ability will be tested by Love, but Dozier's bound to get help from Dorsey and big-bodied
Howland has instilled toughness and tenacity in these Bruins that drives the defense and keeps them from believing any deficit is too large to overcome. He's well versed in the expectations and pressures of playing on this stage and finally has the missing piece, in Love, that will get UCLA back in the title game.
This isn't Calipari's first trip to the Final Four, either, having been there with UMass in 1996. But he takes a roster of first-timers to the Alamodome and there's bound to be some jitters on the Tigers' end. Rose is the perfect fit for the dribble-drive motion offense, but can he become just the third freshman point guard to lead a team to the national title?