Tigers, Bruins Are Indy-Bound

LSU and UCLA utilized strong defensive efforts Saturday to extend their seasons another week, and earn long weekends in Indianapolis as well while bagging half of the Final Four berths.

With freshmen- and sophomore-dominated rosters, the LSU and UCLA teams looked to be capable of making strong runs at the Final Four.


And that's what they've done, successfully, at least year before most – at least those who don't reside in Baton Rouge, La., and Westwood, Calif. – thought it was likely to happen.


John Brady's Tigers and Ben Howland's Bruins played national championship-caliber defense Saturday during the respective regional championship victories over Texas (in Atlanta) and Memphis (in Oakland).


The teams will hook up in the RCA Dome next Saturday afternoon in one of the Final Four semifinals and will taking different travel routes to Indianapolis.


But the method used in extending their seasons another week were remarkable comparable, at least from a defensive standpoint.


Their defenses all but enveloped potent frontcourts while pressuring jump shooters and rendering transition offenses negligible.


LSU generated much more in the way of offensive productivity during its 70-60 overtime victory over the Longhorns than did UCLA in its 50-45, ugly-as-all-get-out victory over top-seed Memphis.


And that was due to the performance of post players Glen Davis (26 points) and Tyrus Thomas (21), who dominated a frontcourt that included the Big 12's Player of the Year (P.J. Tucker) and the possible first choice in the next NBA Draft (LaMarcus Aldridge).


Needless to say, the preparation-obsessed Howland and his staff are probably already getting bleary-eyed squinting at game footage of the Tigers while trying to fashion a scheme to keep Davis and Thomas from doing to the Bruins what they did to Texas Saturday and Duke two evenings before.


As for LSU's preparation for the Bruins' offense . . . well, if Saturday was a barometer, that wouldn't seem to be much of a problem.


Other than center Ryan Hollins (six of seven from the field), UCLA's starters were a combined three of 25 from the field.


Once again, that was 22 misses in 25 attempts with the only shots to sink being two first-half 3-pointers by Arron Afflalo and a jumper along the right baseline late in the game by his backcourt mate, Jordan Farmar.


But Garrett Temple, who did a solid job on Duke All-America J.J. Redick (three of 18 from the field), and the Tigers' only senior starter, Darrel Mitchell, will undoubtedly draw the assignments on Afflalo and Farmar, respectively.


And how easily could we be talking about a different pair of teams representing the Atlanta and Oakland regions in Indy next Saturday?


Very easily.


Remember, LSU needed a 3-pointer from Darrel Mitchell to edge Texas A&M, 58-57, in a second-round game in Jacksonville.


And the Bruins trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half Thursday night before scoring the final 11 points to edge Gonzaga, 73-71, in the most stunning comeback of the tournament.


Scout.com's All-Regional teams:


MVP: Glen Davis (LSU)

The others: Tyrus Thomas and Garrett Temple (both LSU); Kenton Paulino (Texas); Shelden Williams (Duke); Kevin Pittsnogle (West Virginia).



MVP: Ryan Hollins (UCLA)

The others: Arron Afflalo and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (both UCLA); Adam Morrison (Gonzaga); Rodney Carney and Darius Washington (both Memphis).


A look at Sunday's other regional finals:


All times Eastern


No. 1 Connecticut (30-3) vs. No. 11 George Mason (26-7), 2:40 p.m.

Things to consider: The Patriots, in wins over Michigan State, North Carolina and Wichita State, have played as well as any of the teams that played on Saturday or Sunday. As for the top-seeded Huskies, they've played just well enough to pull away from Albany, hold off Kentucky and rally to edge Washington in overtime. A few weeks ago, someone wrote – come to think of it, that "someone" was me – that Coach Jim Calhoun's Huskies have the largest margin for error of any team in the country. And that point was illustrated succinctly during each of their NCAA Tournament victories. But "just well enough" might not be good enough against a George Mason team that plays better half-court defense and will take better care of the basketball than did the Washington Huskies during their loss to Connecticut.

Frank's Spin: It's about time that the Huskies put together something close to a solid effort on both ends of the floor. If they pick Sunday to do it, they'll be playing in Indianapolis Saturday.




No. 1 Villanova (28-4) vs. No. 3 Florida (30-6), 5:05 p.m.

Things to consider: Randy Foye, Kyle Lowry and Will Sheridan saved the day --- more specifically, the season --- for the region's top seed in its overtime victory over Boston College Friday. The Wildcats, after a slow start, did a pretty solid job of defending the Eagles' half-court offense. But the Gators, with 6-11 Joakim Noah, 6-8 Al Horford and 6-7 Corey Brewer, will present the same kind of matchup problems that Texas (in non-conference play) and Big East opponents Connecticut, Georgetown and Pittsburgh did. Of course, those matchup "problems" will work two ways when the Gators defend the quick and always-attacking Wildcats straight up.

Frank's Spin: Assuming they can keep Noah from dominating play – which South Alabama, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Georgetown couldn't come close to doing – the Wildcats will hook up with Connecticut for the third time this season in Indianapolis.

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.

Wildcat Authority Top Stories