Tigers, Bruins Do It Again, Four Months Later

Two NCAA Tournament teams will get their Indianapolis-bound, Final Four tickets punched Saturday during regional finals in Atlanta and Oakland.

OK, so who has made the most progress since the Nov. 23 National Invitation Tournament semifinal in New York City in which the Memphis Tigers prevailed over the UCLA Bruins, 88-80?


We'll find out Saturday evening, when the teams have a rematch four months later in the NCAA Tournament's Oakland Region final.


But, in reality, the Bruins will have to have gained considerably on John Calipari's squad since the Tigers dominated that contest, for the most part, leading by 17 points at intermission.


In Saturday's first final, top seed Duke takes on No. 2 Texas in Atlanta.


Whoops! Check that! It will be LSU that faces the Longhorns with a Final Four berth at stake, less than two days after the Tigers stunned the Blue Devils Thursday night, 62-54.



A closer look at Saturday's regional finals


All times Eastern


No. 2 Texas (30-6) vs. No. 4 LSU (26-8), 4:40 p.m.

Things to consider: The Longhorns manhandled West Virginia in the lane and along the baseline, out-rebounding the Mountaineers, 43-15. Texas isn't going to come close to getting that kind of domination against a Tigers' team that has a frontcourt of Tyrus Thomas, Glen Davis and Tasmin Mitchell, as well as reserve Darnell Lazare, who was an unsung hero in the first half against Duke Thursday night. But the Tigers also don't have anything close to the perimeter attack that West Virginia (which hit 15 3-pointers) nearly beat Texas with. Watch a potential matchup (when Texas is in man-to-man) between the Longhorns' LaMarcus Aldridge and the Tigers' Thomas. Dozens of NBA talent evaluators will take a peek, that's for sure.

Frank's Spin: This could be the most competitive, and most entertaining, of the four regional finals this weekend. Unless the Tigers knock in a bunch of jump shots, look for the Longhorns to advance to Indianapolis.



No. 1 Memphis (33-3) vs. No. 2 UCLA (30-6), 7:05 p.m.

Things to consider: The Tigers are stuck in a rut – they've won each of their tournament games by margins of 16 points. The Bruins, on the other hand, had to survive a late 3-point attempt by Ronald Steele to get by Alabama in Round 2, and had to overcome deficits of 17 (first half) and 14 (second half) points Thursday night to beat a Gonzaga team that had outplayed them for the better part of 37 minutes. As is the case in most basketball games that don't come close to getting the attention that will be showered upon this one, the outcome will be decided in large part on which team can dictate its playing style. The Bruins would prefer more of a 47-foot contest; the Tigers, a better transition team, want to make it endline-to-endline.

Frank's Spin: UCLA can beat the top seed if it is able force the Tigers to guard its half-court offense for long stretches of the clock, limit its turnovers and keep the "easy" (transition buckets and second shots) Memphis points to a minimum. With as well as the Tigers are playing right now, that's probably too many "ifs". Memphis becomes the second Indianapolis-bound team.

Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com.

Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.frankhoops.com.

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