Memphis-Kansas Rematch Lacks Its Once-Great Luster
Tonight, the No. 1 ranked Kansas Men's Basketball Team squares off against Memphis in St. Louis. It will be the first time the two teams have met since their slobber-knocker of a National Championship game in 2008.
We all know who prevailed and how they did it. However, you can't talk about tonight's game with much anticipation because of where both programs, especially Memphis, has gone from there.
Instead, most of the hype for tonight's game comes from the fresh memories of the title game in 2008. The impossible comeback, Memphis being plagued by missed free-throws, "The Shot," and the overtime mauling. All of it culminating with the banner hanging in the north end of Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.
While tonight's matchup may still get some attention—the majority of it will originate from what happened in the 2008 Championship game. There is a twist, however, and the twisting comes from the Memphis side of tonight's matchup.
Ponder this: Pretend that John Calipari stayed at Memphis, and despite his best efforts over the summer was unsuccessful at convincing Tyreke Evans to stay. Now pretend that Xavier Henry is a Tiger instead of a Jayhawk due to Calipari's hypothetical loyalty to Memphis, and pretend that Kentucky standout freshman John Wall also was a Memphis Tiger.
The game tonight would have a little different feel to it, wouldn't it? Instead of Kansas being the overwhelming favorite, in all hypothetical likelihood, Memphis would be favored.
The game would have received a ton of preseason hype, and there would have been round-the-clock coverage on ESPN, much like they currently do with Monday Night Football . It would be billed as the game of the season, despite the 2009-2010 season being in its infancy.
The question for Kansas fans would be this, "Can Cole and Sherron lead their team to victory, and crush the Tigers and Calipari again?" Of course the biggest question of all being directed at the Tigers, "Can they get the revenge they so desperately need as a program?"
Alright, back to earth. Calipari coaches Kentucky, he's got John Wall in Lexington with him.
In his wake, Memphis—left bruised and battered by Calipari's departure has had to endure overwhelming embarrassment in form of serious NCAA violations surrounding the validity of Derek Rose's college entrance exam scores which stripped every Memphis win of the 2007-2008 season, including that great postseason run.
On top of the embarrassment, Tyreke Evans is now playing 82 games a season, and the Memphis team is in full-on rebuilding mode.
On the flip side, Xavier Henry, along with his brother C.J. (a transfer from Memphis, I needn't remind you) are both Jayhawks, on a squad that is primed for another title run.
While Memphis, as a program, is worried about where it goes from the ashes left behind by John Calipari's crookedness—the only problem Kansas has as a program is whether or not to rotate nine players instead of 10, (assuming the well-publicized feud with the football team is truly over).
With the billing for tonight's game being severely damaged by the loss of Calipari and his blue-chip recruits, viewers will constantly be reminded about the 2008 National Title Game, whether they like it (Kansas fans), or not (Memphis fans).
You can expect to see the Chalmers game-tying three pointer at least five times, you can expect to see the Collins steal, pass, reception, and three pointer that preceded Chalmers' miracle, at least twice. You'll also probably see Collins victory dribble around the court a couple times.
Tonight's contest was always going to be billed as the rematch of one of the greatest National Title games to ever be played. However, the game, and especially the anticipation for it has been greatly diminished by the series of events that have taken place at Memphis.
I'd like to think I speak for many when I say that it is very unfortunate for fans of College Basketball, and the fans of both teams alike, that this rematch could have lived up to, or surpassed the excitement of its first installment and instead, it looks like the result will be a foregone conclusion.
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