While this is the first time that all four no.1 seeds have been in the final four together, this is also the first time since 1970 that the top four teams in the AP Poll have played in the final weekend.
In the first game, Memphis and the underappreciated Tigers take on the UCLA Bruins and each coach, John Calipari and Ben Howland, will be looking for their first championship game appearance. But what could put each team over the edge...the match ups. Can Joey Dorsey stop Kevin Love or can Darren Collison stop the freshman sensation Derrick Rose.
K Love has built a reputation as a play maker and will be hard to defend. Love has put up serious numbers as well as swat shoots in the paint. Mempis big man Joey Dorsey will have his hands full so don't expect many points out of him (not that he scores a lot anyway). His assignment will be to keep Love from getting easy baskets and keep him off the offensive glass.
Love on the other hand will just need to be his usual self, 20 points 10 rebounds and a couple of blocks and could try and test the free throw shooting of the Tigers from the start. While Memphis has corrected their free throw wows the last two games, no one's really sure if they can keep it up.
Going 30-36 from the charity stripe in their last game, the Tigers look to keep that going. And if they do UCLA could be in trouble because Memphis can easily hang 80 or more points on the board.
But the match up NBA scouts want to see is Darren Collison versus Derrick Rose. Collison wants to show the rookie that he has the speed and leadership skills to keep up with the future NBA lottery pick. Rose has shown the ability to run the offense with a Chris Paul type skill set. He's managed to up his scoring six more points per game in the tournament and increase his assist totals as well.
Even though Derrick Rose will make things happen I still see UCLA winning by four points, 74-70. Memphis will struggle from the free throw line and Love will step up big.
The later game has UNC back in the final four against Kansas. Tar Heel senior, Quentin Thomas will be looking to do something no other North Carolina player has before...win two championship rings. The only North Carolina scholarship senior was a freshman when the Tar Heels won the last time.
But underneath the hoop Kansas senior Darnell Jackson will be battling Tyler Hansbrough for position. Hansbrough has literally put the team on his broad shoulders for most of the year and will put up his usual point totals.
Kansas needs to keep Hansbrough from getting second chance points to be successful. The toughness Pshycho T possesses will at times over power the Jayhawk two forward attack. The bad news for Kansas fans, North Carolina is really good in the half court offense as well as the fast paced transition game.
So for UNC to win Ty Lawson needs to control the tempo of Carolina's transition offense. And that means senior guard Russell Robinson will have to slow down Lawson and keep Carolina from pushing the ball up the court on missed or made baskets.
Kansas has played the easiest schedule leading up to the final four, their highest ranked opponent has been eighth seeded UNLV. This means that the Jayhawks will need to be near perfect in order to stage the upset.
Prediction...UNC wins by eight points 80-72.
That will put UNC playing UCLA...my prediction for that game will come later.