North Carolina –3 vs. Kansas
This is an interesting match-up as Carolina coach Roy Williams faces the school that made him famous. Expect the Tar Heels to do what they’ve done all year, that is, push the ball up and down the court while attacking the opposing defense before it can become set.
Having star Tyler Hansbrough in the paint is an added bonus for the ‘Heels and, although Kansas has a decent front line of their own, North Carolina should have the advantage under basket. Kansas has a decent group of perimeter shooters, but in a pressure cooker like the Final 4, it’s hard to rely on draining 3-point shots. The lights are most brightest on this stage.
With North Carolina’s experience (they won it all in 2005) and fast-paced attack, the Tar Heels should advance with a convincing win over the Jayhawks. UNC –3.
Memphis vs. UCLA +2
The Bruins were a season-long pick to make the Final 4 and many prognosticators pegged them to win the championship. But, since the end of the regular season and throughout the tournament, UCLA has appeared mediocre in wins over relatively easy opponents. Thus, many experts are now fawning over Memphis as this year’s great tourney team. There’s good reason for that. The Tigers have looked unstoppable in recent games, and their demolishing of a highly-regarded Texas squad was eye-opening.
Memphis is, no doubt, more athletic than UCLA. The Tigers have faster guards and pound the glass relentlessly. But UCLA is coming up to this game at full strength. The Bruins were hobbled at the start of the tournament with injuries to Mbah a Moute and Kevin Love. Moreover, Josh Shipp has shown flashes of the form that made him the highest-scoring returning starter last fall.
This is the Bruins’ third straight Final Four appearance, which should take some of the stage-fright off the trip to San Antonio. Given the Bruins methodical, defensive style of play, coupled with the outside shooting of Darren Collison and Shipp along with the inside dominance of Kevin Love, UCLA has a chance to steal this one at the buzzer. UCLA +2.