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Some Final Four Notes (But Not Picks - Yet)

We've been tossing the Final Four field over and over in our head and we still can't really get a grip on it. You can make an argument for - and against - anybody. Our prerequisites have always been guard play, experience, coaching, and defense.

Darrell Arthur 6-9 Tyler Hansbrough 6-9
Darnell Jackson 6-8 Deon Thompson 6-8
Brandon Rush 6-6 Marcus Ginyard 6-6
Mario Chalmers 6-1 Ty Lawson 5-11
Russell Robinson 6-1 Wayne Ellington 6-4
Sasha Kaun 6-11 Alex Stepheson 6-9
Sherron Collins 5-11 Quentin Thomas 6-3
Danny Green 6-6

Everyone has great guards. You could argue that Kansas has the weakest backcourt, maybe, but even if you did, it's not by much, and having Sherron Collins coming off the bench is a nice bonus. He's struggled with injuries this season, but has come on late. He was critical against Davidson, putting Stephen Curry in a bind and then falling off to contest the three by Jason Richards to preserve the win. They're at a bit of a size disadvantage although that isn't always the biggest deal.

To beat UNC, Kansas will have to focus on three players: Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, and Ty Lawson. They have enough size to contest Hansbrough, with Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, and Sasha Kaun, but Arthur can get suckered on defense. Don't count on getting 40 out of him or anything.

They have enough guards to throw at Lawson to possibly slow him down at the end. Bill Self is an excellent defensive coach and has options for Ellington.

In the tournament, Deon Thompson has been a pain in the butt and can no longer be ignored, which means it'll be a lot more difficult to doubleteam Hansbrough. And they'll have to worry about Danny Green off the bench. People might disagree with us on this, but Lawson aside, we've never been sold on UNC's athleticism. This showed up several times during the season when really mobile teams bothered them - with or without Lawson. Kansas matches up with them reasonably well, though they're not radically more athletic than UNC. If they can slow Lawson down and somewhat contain Hansbrough, they've got a shot.

On the flip side, UNC has to defend a team without knowing who might step up. Brandon Rush gets a lot of attention, but the most NBA-ready player is Arthur. Mario Chalmers is averaging 12.4 ppg. But all that said, the wild cards could be Kaun and Collins. Kaun is a big strong guy who can lean on Hansbrough, and Collins is capable of erupting - and disrupting. The Heels have always been vulnerable to three pointers - they defend from the inside out - and if someone goes Randolph Childress on them, they might have a tough time adjusting.

Kevin Love 6-11 Joey Dorsey 6-9
Josh Shipp 6-5 Antonio Anderson 6-6
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute 6-8 Robert Dozier 6-9
Russell Westbrook 6-3 Chris Douglas-Roberts 6-7
Darren Collison 6-0 Derrick Rose 6-3
James Keefe 6-8 Shawn Taggart 6-10
Lorenzo Mata-Real 6-9 Willie Kemp 6-2

UCLA and Memphis is a fascinating game. Kevin Love is a stunning talent. UCLA builds their team around Love and point guard Darren Collison. UCLA of course has been here a lot lately, and Collison has become a really fine point guard. Russell Westbrook, like the rest of his teammates, has been an excellent defender, and we've gotten used to seeing him fly down the court after a steal.

Memphis will follow him.

They are the most athletic team in the Final Four, and it's probably not that close. Derrick Rose is a spectacular freshman point guard who we've heard compared to Jason Kidd. Chris Douglas-Roberts is really, really athletic and he's a huge pain defensively. Their backcourt is averaging about 31 ppg

Joey Dorsey is erratic and will have his hands full with Love, but he's capable. He may have learned from his mistake last year when he talked smack about Greg Oden and paid.

Robert Dozier is getting 25 minutes a game and putting up about 9 points and 7 boards a game. Memphis is getting around 28 from their starters and 40 overall.

Antonio Anderson is 6-6 and fast like his teammates. He doesn't score a lot, but he can get after people and if he defends well this weekend, Memphis is in great shape.

Memphis has a signficant absence since backup point Andre Allen apparently failed an NCAA drug test and will not play this weekend.

Josh Shipp has been erratic offensively, and it would be a boon for them if he could shoot well.

To get back to our prerequisites, we'd have to say that UCLA and Memphis are the best defensive teams. UCLA gets a big advantage in experience having been to three Final Fours in a row. Derrick Rose is a freshman, but he's an unusual freshman. Still, with three minutes left and a tight game, even really good freshmen can screw up.

For Kansas, Collins and Arthur are sophs, but the rest of their critical players are juniors and seniors, including Robinson. Having a senior point guard is a big luxury. Having 10 guys who have run the sets and drills for at least three years is a huge advantage. The coaches could basically go watch film and these guys know how to run the practice. Just as importantly, they've been in critical situations and know how to respond.

As far as coaching goes, all four are just great coaches. Roy Williams is a Hall of Famer, and Ben Howland and John Calipari will likely join him at some point. Bill Self is still a young coach, but he made a major impression on us when he was at Tulsa, and he built the Illinois team that went to the Final Four. Arguably, this is his second Final Four team.

We've been leaning towards UCLA. Memphis, though, has really made an impression on us. Love and Rose are both incredible.

Kansas has a solid team that's hard to guard, because you never know who might be the scorer. They can all do it. In a close game, we've got to go with Tyler Hansbrough, because he's just shown the willpower to grab one more board or hit one more basket. He's gotten to the point where just showing up is intimidating.