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March 28, 2008

NCAA Regional Finals viewer's guide

MORE: NCAA Tourney Central

ALL TIMES EASTERN; ALL GAMES ON CBS

SOUTH REGIONAL
No. 1 Memphis vs. No. 2 Texas
WHERE: Reliant Stadium, Houston.
WHEN: 2:20 p.m., Sunday
ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz and Billy Packer.
RECORDS: Memphis 36-1, Texas 31-6.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Memphis d. No. 16 UT Arlington 87-63, d. No. 8 Mississippi State 77-74, d. No. 5 Michigan State 92-74; Texas d. No. 15 Austin Peay 74-54, d. No. 7 Miami 75-72, d. No. 3 Stanford 82-62.
THE BUZZ: Memphis has more talent, so Texas needs to play at an extremely high level - and feed off the crowd - if it is to pull the upset. Texas' lack of size in the backcourt could hurt against a big group of Memphis guards, and Texas' lack of bulk in the frontcourt could hurt against Memphis' big guys. But Texas may actually enjoy a quickness advantage, and the Longhorns' superb ballhandling should cut way down on Memphis' transition baskets. Making the Tigers set up and play in a half-court set is a huge step toward beating them. Look for Memphis coach John Calipari to use his depth to his advantage. Texas coach Rick Barnes doesn't have the same type of talent on his bench that Calipari does, but Barnes still needs to use his reserve big men, if for nothing else to come in and be physical. It would help Texas' cause if 6-foot-10 junior Connor Atchley can hit some perimeter shots. That would force Memphis' big guys to worry about his offense and presumably open the lane for guards D.J. Augustin and Justin Mason to get to the basket. A.J. Abrams' 3-point shooting ability also will be huge for the Longhorns. As usual, Memphis center Joey Dorsey bears watching. When he plays well, Memphis is almost impossible to beat. Texas forward Damion James has been phenomenal in the NCAA Tournament, but this will be the first opponent for Texas whose big men are as athletic as James.
THE LINE: Memphis by 3
HUGUENIN'S PICK: Memphis by 2.
McCLELLAN'S PICK: Texas by 2.
MIDWEST REGIONAL
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 10 Davidson
WHERE: Ford Field, Detroit.
WHEN: 5:05 p.m., Sunday
ANNOUNCERS: Gus Johnson and Len Elmore.
RECORDS: Kansas 34-3, Davidson 29-6.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Kansas d. No. 16 Portland State 85-61, d. No. 8 UNLV 75-56, d. No. 12 Villanova 72-57; Davidson d. No. 7 Gonzaga 82-76, d. No. 2 Georgetown 74-70, d. No. 3 Wisconsin 73-56.
THE BUZZ: Davidson is trying to become the first No. 10 seed to ever reach the Final Four. Kansas, meanwhile, is trying to reach the Final Four without having beaten a team seeded better than No. 8. In its past two games, Davidson has beaten arguably the two best defensive teams in the tourney in Georgetown and Wisconsin. The Wildcats made the Badgers' vaunted defense look high-schoolish. The reward is a game against Kansas, which is experienced and has a great mix of athletic big men and quick perimeter players. As always, Davidson needs Stephen Curry - unquestionably the MVP of the tourney so far - to again be hot from beyond the arc. When Curry is hitting his 3-pointers, the court opens up for the rest of the Wildcats. Point guard Jason Richards is the nation's leader in assists. He gets the ball to the right people at the right time, and he also has 3-point shooting ability. Davidson's big guys aren't stars, but they are serviceable. The key for the Wildcats is getting some points from big men Andrew Lovedale and/or Thomas Sander. That duo has to stay out of foul trouble and on the court. Kansas has three good ballhandlers, but the Jayhawks still need to watch out for Davidson's quickness on defense. Kansas prefers a fast pace, as does Davidson. KU's big guys can run all day, and the Jayhawks' perimeter guys can get to the rim or stop and pop. Because of its lack of size, Davidson figures to get whipped on the boards. But if the Wildcats can score in transition - or if they hold their own in the rebounding battle - the little school from outside Charlotte again could make big noise. For all those discounting Davidson, we have three questions. Do you remember George Mason? Have you seen how the Wildcats dissected great defenses in each of their past two games? And - most important - have you seen Curry shoot?
THE LINE: Kansas by 9.5
HUGUENIN'S PICK: Kansas by 5
McCLELLAN'S PICK: Kansas by 10.

MORE: NCAA Tourney Central



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