Rock, chalk Jayhawks
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'
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.
Once again, Robinson is in the shadow of a future millionaire in Memphis'
This has officially become Rose's tournament. He had his full arsenal on display in a 25-point performance against UCLA, running circles around
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
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
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.
His length and athleticism caused major issues for the Bruins on both ends of the floor Saturday, like on the one-handed dunk over
When Kansas was rolling early against UNC, it was because it was pushing the ball inside to Jackson and frontcourt mate
He's coming off a stat line straight out of
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
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.
With a pair of tourney star bigs and Collins, the Jayhawks' reserves are delivering some punch, a la the 24 points against North Carolina.
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.
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.