Monday, April 07, 2008

2008 NCAA Championship Game Preview

Kansas Jayhawks (36-3) vs. Memphis Tigers (38-1)
9:00P EST San Antonio, CBS HD
Line: Memphis -2

This is it. A long, exciting, topsy-turvy 2007-2008 NCAA season will come to an end tonight when the Memphis Tigers and Kansas Jayhawks tip the basketball off for the final time this year.

Just like you predicted in your office pool, right?

These two clubs may be a couple of party crashers, silencing doubters while laying waste to quality opponents en route to this title tilt, but that doesn't mean they aren't the two teams most deserving to be here. Nor does it mean that they won't put on a more watchable championship battle than any of the other teams that were picked to be here by the majority of the media and the masses.

(ahem, this means you, UNC and UCLA)

In fact I'll go out on a limb and say that this matchup could provide one of the most entertaining, exciting and electrifying finals in NCAA history, and I'm not a fan of either school.

What I am a fan of is up & down basketball. Teams that cover both ends of the court like a blanket snowfall. Kids that can either rock the rim with a jam or drop a teardrop jay with ease. Athletes that can swat a shot or inhale a rebound, steal an inbounds pass or take a charge with equal parts style and vigor.

Both teams have these qualities in spades.

Talk about evenly matched. Both clubs average about 80PPG and allow around 60PPG, and both teams normally demolish their opponents; Kansas (19.3) and Memphis (18.6) finished 1st & 2nd in the nation in margin of victory. And both teams are led by coaches that have to feel as if they have something to prove.

Somthing's gotta give.

Memphis' John Calipari was a hero when he took UMASS to the Final 4 in the mid 90s, only to see that facade ripped down when his team was stripped of its wins due to a payment scandal involving star forward Marcus Camby. He high tailed it to the NBA, where he was a failure, then slunk back to college to resurrect the dormant Tiger program. A win tonight would solidify his legacy as a program builder and help erase the black mark that has tainted his record.

Kansas' Bill Self built a powerhouse at Illinois before he bolted for the Jayhawks after Roy Williams left for Carolina five years ago. He has never been able to shed the dreaded moniker of "can't win the big game", although he went a long way towards doing just that when his team demolished Williams & the Tarheels in the semi final game Saturday night. Like Calipari, a win tonight and his legacy is sealed; he will forever be known as a championship coach, whether he leaves for his Alma mater Oklahoma State after the game or not, as has been rumored for the last few days.

With all the great players on the court tonight - Joey Dorsey, Chris Douglas Roberts, Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson - two will dictate which team cuts down the nets near midnight tonight:

Memphis G Derrick Rose- the fab freshman has had accolades heaped on him all season, but the praise has been effusive lately thanks to his monster performances in the tourney. The do-everything guard is averaging over 21 pts, 6.5 rebs and 5.5 ass per game in the tournament, and his end-to-end antics have been the stuff NCAA legends are made of. Catch him tonight, because it will probably be his final collegiate game

Kansas G Mario Chalmers- the wiry guard only averages 14 points and 3 assists per game, but it is his defensive abilities that could be the difference maker for Kansas. The sticky-fingered junior, along with fellow guard Russell Robinson, will be called on to help try and stop Rose, and if he has any luck at all shutting down the explosive frosh, the Jayhawks will have a much better shot at winning this game

Alright, enough of the BS, it's almost game time, and time for my prediction. As always, this pick is 100% guaranteed.

Memphis 79, Kansas 75


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