CBS has announced the specific tip-off times for the Final Four. Here's some early viewing thoughts on the big weekend to hold you over until our full game previews go online. Enjoy:
SATURDAY - APRIL 5TH
WHY THE BETTER GAME: Conflicting styles, conflicting histories: UCLA wants to dominate the half-court game, and is a storied program that almost everyone in the mainstream media picked to win it all. Memphis wants to push the tempo, and is an underrated program that many thought would bounce out before the Elite Eight..
TEMPO: Depends on which team gets their way
KEY: A) Derrick Rose. Rose comes in on a good tear, but he tends to throw up a dud every couple weeks. Against UCLA's quality D, this could be one of those 3 for 9 nights. B) Josh Shipp. UCLA's wingman is 8 for 27 in the Tournament, but the Bruins will need all the offense they can muster.
EXPECT: Memphis will have stretches they look unstoppable, but the Bruins ultimately will pull away in the final few minutes behind some Love jumpers..
WHY THE LESSER GAME: Carolina just looks like they're playing the best basketball of anyone in the country.. and they have an ace in the hole (Hansbrough) that Kansas lacks. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks enters the Final Four having escaped with an uninspiring win in which they didn't hit a field goal in the last 5 minutes.
KEYS: A) Jump shots. It's simple, whichever team gets into a better rhythm hitting outside shots will win. B) Crunch time. If its close, you have to give the edge to UNC. (Then again, most said the same about Davidson.)
EXPECT: Unlike against Davidson, the Jayhawks big men (especially Sasha Kaun) won't be half as effective or important on the offensive end. Rush, Chalmers, and Collins will be called upon to knock down long-range shots, but not enough will fall..
-listed in order of likely achievement
NBA STUDS: Derrick Rose (M)
NBA CONTRIBUTORS: Kevin Love (LA), Ty Lawson (NC), Darrell Arthur (K), Tyler Hansbrough (NC), Chris Douglas-Roberts (M), Darren Collison (LA), Wayne Ellington (NC), Brandon Rush (K)
NBA PROBABLES: Mario Chalmers (K), Joey Dorsey (M)
NBA HOPEFULS: Deon Thompson (NC), Sasha Kaun (K), Danny Green (NC), Russell Westbrook (LA), Darnell Jackson (K), Antonio Anderson (M), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (LA)
Prospect Score: Stud = 3pt, Contrib = 2 , Probable = 1, Hopeful = 0.5
North Carolina = 7
Memphis = 6.5
Kansas = 5.5
UCLA = 5
ANNOUNCERS: As usual, Packer & Nantz will call this year's Final Four. Packer will be announcing his 100th Final Four game this weekend, an impressive feat no doubt. Unfortunately, he's been over the hill for the last 35 of those games..
RATINGS: Overall, tournament ratings are down about 10-11% from last year's edition. While the four #1 seeds should provide a nice talking point, CBS certainly was rooting for Stephen Curry to make the leap to national star.