The stage was set for April 7. It had been a wild month of March, as College Basketball was rounding up another fantastic season full of thrilling finishes and electrifying players. All four number one seeds had blazed their way through the tournament to the Final Four, where Kansas throttled North Carolina and Memphis dismantled UCLA. Only the best were left standing, and the eyes of the basketball world turned to San Antonio for a National Championship of the ages.
Derrick Rose and the high-powered Memphis offense squared off against an equally superb Kansas squad. It was an epic battle of talent as both teams answered back and forth in a seesaw battle. One could only sit and marvel at two storied programs vying for a title. It was College Basketball in its finest hour.
Each side went back and forth, trading baskets and making spectacular plays. Sherron Collins was a sparkplug for the Jayhawks, chipping in with 11 points and six assists off the bench.
Each player left everything on the court that night, playing with the burning competitive desire that makes champions. No one settled for anything less, and it was a classic performance by both sides seeing such unbridled effort and intensity from Kansas and Memphis.
Down 47-44 with nine minutes left in the game, Memphis surged ahead and took control of the game. But Kansas would not be deterred, and they stayed within striking distance.
Time was running out on the Jayhawks. They had matched Memphis on both sides of the floor for the entire game, but with less than two minutes left and down by seven, Memphis could seal the deal at the free throw line and take home the trophy.
Memphis lived up to their title of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country, making only one of five free throws in the last minute of the game. Kansas connected on two three-pointers to draw the game to a 62-60 deficit. With 10 seconds left, Derrick Rose missed one of two free throws, opening the door for Kansas to make one last ditch effort to tie the game and go into OT.
Hearts were pounding across the country, and with nine seconds left, Kansas was against the wall. Mario Chalmers was cool and calm. In cold-blooded fashion he sank one of the greatest shots in College Basketball history to tie the game at 63, and a stunned Memphis squad could only try to regroup themselves.
In OT, Kansas came out of the gates, grabbing a quick six-point advantage. But Chris Douglas-Roberts answered back to cut the lead to three with a minute left.
In the end, Kansas made their free throws when it mattered, and in stunning fashion dismantled the favored Memphis Tigers to win the National Championship. Their unwillingness to give up when they were down late in the game spurred them to victory in a classic game for the ages.
Bill Self and his tireless recruiting and coaching skills had allowed Kansas to reach the pinnacle of College Basketball.
Memphis had come so close to victory, and the crushing weight of this loss would be unbearable. They were unable to make the free throws and seal the deal. Keep the head up Derrick, your NBA career is promising.
To Kansas, the 2008 College Basketball National Champions!!!