Monday, March 31, 2008

College Basketball 3/31 - Final Four History

Xavier 79, West Virginia 75 OT
Xavier built a huge first half lead, going ahead by as much as 18, before the Mountaineers were able to get into a rhythm offensively. West Virginia cut the lead to 32-25 at the half, and finally took their first lead at 51-50 on a Da'Sean Butler jump shot with 9:41 left. After five more leads changes and three ties, Xavier's Josh Duncan had a three-point play to tie it, then hit two more free throws with 1:28 left to give Xavier a 64-62 lead. No one scored until Joe Alexander was fouled on a jumper with 14 seconds left. He missed the free throw, sending the game into OT. WVU scored the first 6 points of overtime, but Xavier stormed back. With 1:18 left, BJ Raymond hit a three from the top of the key to give Xavier their first OT lead. 40 seconds later, on a sideline inbounds with 3 seconds left on the shot clock, Raymond found himself open and knocked down another triple to give Xavier a four point lead and the win.

Kansas 59, Davidson 57
Stephen Curry didn't have any more tricks left up his sleeve. Being chased by a combination of Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins, and Brandon Rush for 40 minutes took a toll on Curry's legs as he missed 9 of his last 10 shots, including 7 from deep, as Kansas hung on to reach the Final Four. Up six with under a minute left, Thomas Sander was fouled. He hit one of two free throws, but the second bounced out of bounds off of Kansas, setting the stage for a Curry triple. Davidson got a stop and the ball back with 16 ticks on the clock. Bob McKillop put the ball in Curry's hands in the backcourt, but he was double teamed as he dribbled off his screens. He found PG Jason Richard open from 25 feet, but he rushed the shot at the buzzer and it hit the left side of the backboard.

Derrick Rose, Memphis
Rose had a great weekend as the Tigers, leading them to the Final Four. In Memphis' two blowout victories, Rose averaged 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists while shooting 65% (17-26) from the field and only turning the ball over three times. Rose also had numerous highlight reel plays en route to winning the South Region's most outstanding player award. The freshman also proved his toughness - during the first half he got hit in the face and needed a glue and tape job to close up a gash above his eye he got earlier in the tournament.

Tyler Hansbrough, UNC
Hansbrough averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds for the week and the Tar Heels advanced to the Final Four for the first time since their 2005 championship. The East Region's most outstanding player had his entire game on display in the Elite 8 against Louisville, going for 28 points (on 12-17 shooting), 13 boards (7 offensive), and hit big shot after big shot. After the Heels blew a 12 point halftime lead when Louisville tied it at 59, Hansbrough scored the next 7 points for UNC. With just over three minutes remaining and UNC up 5, Hanbrough hit back to back 18 foot jumpers, the second of which he pump-faked Earl Clark and took one dribble to his left where knocked down the shot with David Padgett's hand in his face, to put the game away.

Kevin Love, UCLA
The West Region's most outstanding player averaged 24 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks and shot 68% (17-25) from the field. Love's big game came against Western Kentucky when he scored 29 points, had 14 boards, blocked 4 shots, and had 4 assists. Oh, and he can also do this.

Four #1 Seeds
For the first time since the NCAA started seeding the Tournament, all four #1 seeds have reached the Final Four. In a year where throughout a large part of the season, it seemed as if everyone knew who the four best teams in the country were - and all four ended up in the Final Four. Hopefully, the three games in San Antonio will be as great as the four teams competing there.

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