Cory Mccartney
Monday April 7th, 2008

Kansas (36-3) vs. Memphis (38-1) Monday, 9:21 p.m., CBS Alamodome (44,000)

After a pair of blowouts in the hyped national semifinals Saturday night, Monday night offers the first sure thing in this year's Final Four: either Kansas' Bill Self or Memphis John Calipari will leave the Alamodome with their first national championship.

The Jayhawks and Tigers racked up surprisingly easy wins over North Carolina and UCLA, respectively, with rugged man-to-man defense that put a major kink in the opposition's offensive flow (though Kansas did find a way to add a sliver of suspense to the proceedings in letting the Tar Heels claw back in the game). But both teams can also play at a breakneck pace, meaning this has the possibility of turning into a track meet or a possession game. Either way, the stage is set for a final worthy of this historic Final Four -- and the $1,600 asking price for a pair of lower level sets on eBay.

Kansas' Russell Robinson So., 6-foot-1, 205 Stats: 7.4 ppg, 4.1 apg

Once again, Robinson is in the shadow of a future millionaire in Memphis' Derrick Rose. He's not going to outscore Rose, but Robinson is a great on-ball defender who had three steals in the first half against UNC. He's going to be tested early and often by Rose, so expect to see backup Sherron Collins sharing minutes in hopes of keeping fresh legs on the Tigers' star.

Memphis' Derrick Rose Fr., 6-3, 190 Stats: 14.8 ppg, 4.6 apg

This has officially become Rose's tournament. He had his full arsenal on display in a 25-point performance against UCLA, running circles around Darren Collison and making him look like he was operating with an ancient dial-up connection. In the past 25 years, only two freshman point guards have led their team to a title (Arizona's Mike Bibby in 1997 and Syracuse's Gerry McNamara in 2003) but at this point it's getting hard to bet against Rose.

EDGE: MEMPHIS

Kansas' Mario Chalmers Jr., 6-1, 190 Stats: 12.6 ppg, 47.3 percent from three

The Jayhawks' best defensive player, Chalmers had three steals vs. the Tar Heels and will likely help out on Rose. But where Chalmers can kill the Tigers is in hitting three-pointers if they double up on Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson when KU kicks it inside. He will have to shake off the Tigers' best perimeter defender to get a clean look.

Memphis' Antonio Anderson Jr., 6-6, 210 Stats: 8.5 ppg, 3.5 apg

He characteristically stayed out of foul trouble, drawing no fouls against UCLA and hit a pair of three-pointers in playing a team-high 38 minutes. Anderson, however, did struggle defensively against Russell Westbrook, who had 22 points. Anderson has a size advantage on Chalmers, but the Jayhawk is a more potent scorer than Westbrook and could exploit this matchup.

EDGE: KANSAS

Kansas' Brandon Rush Jr., 6-6, 190 Stats: 13.4 ppg, 42.3 percent from three

One half of the game's most intriguing pairing, Rush continued his recent scoring barrage (18.6 points per game in his last seven) with a game-high 25 points against North Carolina, including 12 in the first 15 minutes. He thrives on locking horns with an opponent's biggest offensive weapon and he'll likely make or break his reputation defensively against one of the tourney's hottest scorers.

Memphis' Chris Douglas-Roberts Jr., 6-7, 200 Stats: 18 ppg, 41.3 percent from three

His length and athleticism caused major issues for the Bruins on both ends of the floor Saturday, like on the one-handed dunk over Kevin Love that sent the UCLA big man crashing to the hardwood and an impressive block of Westbrook. Like Rush, he can score in a flurry and if this game turns into a shootout, and the two will be delivering a bevy of highlights.

EDGE: EVEN

Kansas' Darnell Jackson Sr., 6-8, 250 Stats: 11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg

When Kansas was rolling early against UNC, it was because it was pushing the ball inside to Jackson and frontcourt mate Darrell Arthur. It allowed Jackson to breakthrough with a 12-point game, his first double-digit game since the tourney opener and included a surprising trey. He'll have to avoid foul trouble, which hampered him early against North Carolina, to supply help defense when Rose and CDR drive the lane.

Memphis' Joey Dorsey Sr., 6-9, 265 Stats: 6.9 ppg, 9.7 rpg

He's coming off a stat line straight out of Dennis Rodman's book: zero points, 15 rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal in 27 minutes as the C-USA defensive player of the year led a group effort that stymied Love, and most importantly, he stayed out of foul trouble in the process. The key to his game is mainly pulling down boards to kickstart the transition game, but it's hard to imagine Memphis cutting down the net if Dorsey records another bagel.

EDGE: KANSAS

Kansas' Darrell Arthur So., 6-9, 225 Stats: 12.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg

Arthur got off to a hot start verses UNC with three buckets and an assist in the first five minutes. He also committed just two fouls in spearheading a rotation that frustrated Tyler Hansbrough for much of the game, a good sign considering he will be KU's biggest head-to-head advantage and can't afford to draw many fouls.

Memphis' Robert Dozier Jr., 6-9, 215 Stats: 9.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg

He was the least impressive Tiger in the rout of the Bruins, turning the ball over three times. But he did what you'd expect him to do, which was deliver a defensive presence with three blocks and three steals. He draws a tough assignment in Arthur, the best frontcourt player in this game.

EDGE: KANSAS

Kansas

With a pair of tourney star bigs and Collins, the Jayhawks' reserves are delivering some punch, a la the 24 points against North Carolina. Sasha Kaun stole the show against Texas, but against the Tar Heels it was 6-11 freshman Cole Aldrich, who had seven rebounds (four offensive) and four blocks. Collins, who will matchup with Rose when he's in the game, will have to avoid foul trouble (he had four verses UNC).

Memphis

Outside of Shawn Taggart, who played 22 minutes in helping out on Hansbrough, the group was largely anonymous against the Bruins with Doneal Mack, Willie Kemp and Pierre Niles totaling one rebound and no points in a combined 11 minutes. Maybe Calipari was saving them to run with the Jayhawks, but there are no sparkplugs like Self has at his disposal.

EDGE: KANSAS

Kansas

Self, like Calipari, is making his title-game debut and we'd be lying to ourselves if we didn't believe these guys will both be a bundle of nerves but the cool, calm Self will benefit his veteran group by not wearing it on his sleeve. His Jayhawks did go through a rough stretch against North Carolina, but something about the way his club seized a 40-12 lead over the tourney's overall No. 1 seed makes me believe he'll find some way to frustrate the Tigers.

Memphis

Calipari has played the disrespect card to perfection in getting Memphis to its first title game since 1973. It's an approach that has the Tigers playing loose and his half-court Dribble-Drive Motion offense is proving the perfect vehicle for Rose and CDR to do their things. If anything, this run has been as much about his level of respect as his program's.

EDGE: EVEN

THE PICK: KANSAS 75, MEMPHIS 71

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