Tag Archives: Memphis Tigers

NCAA Championship Thoughts

Some quick thoughts from yesterday’s NCAA Championship game, which Kansas won 75-68 in overtime.

1. They say defense wins championships, but you can’t teach free throw defense. Kansas held Memphis to 20 percent shooting at the free throw line down the stretch, which opened the door for the Jayhawks’ comeback victory.

2. Every rose has its thorn and for Memphis freshman Derrick Rose, it was the Kansas defense, especially in the first half. Kansas’ length and athleticism kept Rose out of the paint and the scorebook for much of the first half, limiting the probable lottery pick’s impact.

3. I don’t have a problem with Roy Williams supporting Kansas, a school he coached for many years, even after they beat his North Carolina Tar Heels in the Final Four. But don’t you think he could have done better than that gaudy Jayhawks logo on that black shirt? It looked like he bought a giant sticker logo from the concessions stands and pasted it on.

4. This was almost a case of deja vu. Kansas fans surely recall the 2003 NCAA Championship when two missed free throws by Syracuse’s Hakim Warrick left the door open for the Jayhawks at 81-78. But Warrick made up for the free throw misfires by swatting away Michael Lee’s would-be tying 3-pointer. Derrick Rose was unable to duplicate that feat for Memphis after his missed free throw kept Kansas within one shot — drained by Mario Chalmers — of a tie.

5. Neither of these teams is likely to follow in Florida’s footsteps and bring back its core group from this season next year. Memphis loses Joey Dorsey to graduation, but more importantly, Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts are likely to test NBA Draft waters. Kansas’ Brandon Rush is likely gone as well, joining seniors Russell Robinson, Sasha Kaun and Darnell Jackson.

6. Billy Packer was about 3-4 possessions late in recognizing when Kansas’ defense shifted to a box-and-1. It’s time for a change, CBS. And while you’re at it, give Gus Johnson the Final Four play-by-play responsibilities as well.

7. Great game, but a disappointing overtime. Memphis seemed totally deflated after blowing the lead in regulation when the truth is they still had five minutes of basketball left to earn the championship. Despite an NCAA record 38 wins for the season, Memphis won’t be remembered as the team of 2008 in college basketball.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

The State of College Basketball

Sorry, Carolina. Not quite, California. Nice try, Indiana. But Tennessee is the best state in college basketball right now. You can argue about the best team—a debate that will be resolved with the tournament—but the Volunteer State reigns supreme among the 50 in the world of college basketball.

On Saturday, the University of Tennessee traveled to Memphis and knocked off the previously undefeated Tigers to unseat Memphis as the number one ranked team in the nation. Tennessee didn’t have long to celebrate their big win and first number one ranking in school history, though, as they traveled in state to visit conference rival Vanderbilt on Tuesday.

The Volunteers were defeated 72-69, and the game wasn’t even as close as the final score. While the win may make Bruce Pearl’s stop atop the polls a short one, Vanderbilt should move up in the rankings. They are currently ranked 18th in the AP poll and 14th in the USA Today/ESPN poll. It’s not unthinkable that the Commodores could soon join Memphis and Tennessee to give the state three teams in the top 10 in the country. The shakeup in the Volunteer State has me wondering if Tennessee is college basketball’s best state today.

A closer look at the rankings shows that the state of Tennessee is among exclusive company. Only three states currently feature at least three teams in the top 25: California, Indiana and Tennessee. While Indiana leads the way with four teams in the top 25, none is ranked higher than 12th. California has two teams in the top 10, UCLA and Stanford. But it’s only other ranked team is St. Mary’s College at 25 in the AP poll.

Both Memphis and Tennessee have a viable shot at a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The state’s third team, Vanderbilt has a chance to earn as high as a number three seed with a strong finish in conference.

That’s enough for me to give Tennessee, the rocky top position among all the states playing college basketball today.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.