Big Ten Wonk
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Youth is served
Based on the results of yesterday's Elite Eight games, we know that one of the teams in the national championship game next Monday night will be very young. And very good.

(4) LSU 70, (2) Texas 60 (OT)
The Tigers are this year's Michigan State in that they beat the two top seeds in their region to get to the Final Four. But that's where the similarity ends, for LSU is getting it done with defense. Incredible defense played against two of the best offenses in the nation: Duke and Texas. These elite teams simply aren't able to get the ball in the basket against the Tigers. Texas actually achieved a slight edge on the boards in yesterday's game and turnovers were a wash. But the Longhorns made less than 28 percent of their twos--which is simply astonishing for a team that features LaMarcus Alrdridge and P.J. Tucker (who, combined, made 55 percent of their twos this season). In fact, LSU turned Texas into a POT yesterday: the only way the Horns stayed in this game was by making ten threes. (That and the fact that the Tigers were a woeful 3-of-18 on their own threes.) Tyrus Thomas was credited with only three blocks but he's reached the point now where actual blocks in the box score are immaterial: he changes opponents' shots merely by walking onto the court.

Not to steal the thunder of the following paragraph, but it already seems fair to say that the winner of their national semifinal game with UCLA may be the team that gets to 50 points. (Box score.)

(2) UCLA 50, (1) Memphis 45

Yes, the pace was a tad slow but not nearly as glacial as the score might indicate. There were in fact 63 possessions in this game, as opposed, say, to the 56-possession crawl-ball that was Florida-Georgetown Friday night. And there was some tenacious D played by both teams yesterday. Still, the shooting was simply awful. The Tigers missed 16 of their 18 threes. The Bruins missed 19 of their 39 free throws. Any game in late-March acquires a certain glow because of its momentous stature--and this game was no different. But among the momentous games of late-March, this was one of the more homely ones. (Box score.)

In today's less Wonk-ish venues....
The rest of the Final Four will be written in today....

(11) George Mason vs. (1) Connecticut, Washington, D.C. (2:30pm ET)
Can a mid-major make it to the Final Four?

(3) Florida vs. (1) Villanova, Minneapolis (5:05pm ET)
Inside vs. outside.

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