By Cory Mccartney
April 04, 2008

UCLA (35-3) vs. Memphis (37-1)Saturday, 6:07 p.m., CBSAlamodome (44,000)

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 Ben Howland's crew so dangerous. This edition has something the previous two, which fell short of a title, didn't have: freshman big man Kevin Love. UCLA opens its run in San Antonio after an impressive win over Xavier, but these Bruins have made their mark in close games, with seven of their last 10 being decided by 10 points or less.

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 Derrick Rose. The Tigers are coming off a pair of 18-point wins over Michigan State and Texas, in which they shot better than 50 percent, and they've eased criticism of their one Achilles' heel by hitting a combined 79 percent of their free throws in those victories.

UCLA's Darren CollisonJr., 6-foot-1, 165 poundsStats: 14.8 ppg, 53 percent from three-point range

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 coming through in the clutch and he's one part of the marquee matchup in this game against ...

Memphis' Derrick RoseFreshman, 6-foot-3, 190Stats: 14.6 ppg, 4.7 apg

If not for Stephen Curry, Rose would be the breakout player of the tournament. He's averaged 19 points a game in the dance, including 27 and 21 in the last two games, and the needle-phobic phenom has delivered the best off-the-court story of the tourney. He has two inches and a step on Collison and is upping his NBA stock every time he touches the ball.


UCLA's Russell WestbrookSo., 6-3, 187Stats: 12.5 ppg, 4.3 apg

The Pac-10 defensive player of the year has slid into the lock-down defender role, which was vacated by Arron Afflalo went he pro after last season, and could help ease the offensive threat of Rose. Westbrook is dangerous in the lane and has helped pick up the pace with Josh Shipp's struggles, but his biggest asset is his defense.

Memphis' Antonio AndersonJr., 6-6, 210 poundsStats: 8.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg

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.


UCLA's Josh ShippJr., 6-5, 220Stats: 12.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg

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.

Memphis' Chris Douglas-RobertsJr., 6-7, 200Stats: 17.7 ppg, 41.6 percent from three

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.


UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a MouteJr., 6-8, 230Stats: 8.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg

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.

Memphis' Joey DorseySr., 6-9, 265Stats: 7.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg

Dorsey has already shown a maturity that was missing last season when he called out Ohio State's Greg Oden. Easily the Tigers' most emotional player, Dorsey has a penchant for foul trouble, fouling out of five games this season and drawing four in six other games. The Tigers need the bruiser to keep himself in check if they're to have a chance.


UCLA's Kevin LoveFr., 6-10, 260Stats: 17.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg

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.

Memphis' Robert DozierJr., 6-9, 215Stats: 9.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg

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 Pierre Niles (6-8, 310).



Forward James Keefe (2.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg) is capable, especially after dropping 18 points and 12 rebounds in 26 minutes against Western Kentucky, while center Lorenzo Mata-Real (3.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and forward Alfred Aboya (2.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg) offer somewhat erratic frontcourt help.


Coach John Calipari may be right in saying guard Andre Allen's suspension for violating team rules isn't a major detriment to the team. Willie Kemp, who becomes the top backcourt reserve, has the experience after starting on last year's Elite Eight team. Forward Shawn Taggart (6-foot-10) can score down low, while Niles provides another body to throw at Love.



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?


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