Let’s get back to the Memphis Tigers. Just one more day to go till we finally get on with this game. As the previews keep pouring in from all corners of the country, here is the one I was waiting for most: Bruin Basketball Report’s analysis of UCLA v. Memphis. While lot of folks are talking up the Tigers’ offense, BBR prudently reminds us not to forget about their stingy defense and ability to rebound with authority:
In the battle on the backboards, the Tigers dominate opponents with a +6.7 rebounding margin per game.
UCLA's Darren Collison will likely get the starting assignment against the bigger Rose. Collison needs to do a good job pressuring the ball while at the same time preventing Rose from getting by him and into the paint. UCLA's big men will likely rotate to help out Collison off Rose's drives to the basket but they need to be aware of Rose's ability to hit the open man underneath.
AP First-Team All-American Chris Douglas-Roberts (6'7, 200, Jr) leads the team in scoring with 17.7 points a game. The junior wing shoots 54.5% from the field and 41.6% from beyond the arc.
Excellent off the dribble, big and strong enough to create his own shot, makes Douglas-Roberts one of the nation's top players this season. Russell Westbrook will get the initial assignment against Douglas-Roberts. He needs to do a good job denying him the ball. If Douglas-Robert's size proves to be too much for the 6'3 Westbrook, then we may see Luc Richard Mbah a Moute have a turn in guarding him.
This season, UCLA saw opponents take fewer 3s as a percentage of their total shots than all but 36 teams in the nation, and the Bruins defend the 3 very well (32.9 percent allowed). The Tigers don't fare as well when they get jump-shot happy, so a perimeter-based game suggests a lower-scoring game, which suits the Bruins. Defensively, Memphis should make sure that Josh Shipp doesn't find anything easy early. If he remains in his shooting slumber, UCLA will need to get extremely good games from Love, Collison and Westbrook to score enough points to win.
Another important point to remember, FWIW UCLA will have an edge when it comes to experience in Final-4. From Dohn:
Collison was a starter last season after being a key player off the bench as a freshman, and Bruins senior reserve center Lorenzo Mata-Real is making his third straight Final Four appearance.
Meanwhile, fourth-year junior wing Josh Shipp is at the Final Four for a third time, although he was injured and did not play during UCLA's 2006 trip.
"It helps us out a lot because we know what to expect," Collison said. "On the court, we know what teams are going to bring us. You have to play your best. Off the court, you know how to handle the media obligations. You can't get caught up in all the hype, all the negativity that they say about you."