I’ll chime in all night with thoughts from both games. All times are mountain time.
4:04 p.m. – Time to settle in and watch some basketball. Just finished watching Colonel John unleash a massive run down the stretch to win the Santa Anita Derby and position himself behind Big Brown and Pyro as the third best looking horse pointed to the Kentucky Derby with four weeks left to go. It was impressive. Now for some basketball. They are doing the cheesy introductions, so we should see some actual game action in about three hours at this rate.
4:16 p.m. – 13-12 Memphis less than five minutes in. This has to be more points and more pace than Ben Howland would like. Memphis is dictating the style, and that is great news for them. I was afraid that the Tigers were going to be intimidated after the quick start by the Bruins, but Memphis quickly counter-punched. UCLA just took a timeout, and they desperately need to slow this thing down.
4:27 p.m. – 10 points in just over seven minutes for Chris Douglas-Roberts. UCLA needs to find a way to control him. Thankfully for them, and for the sake of an interesting game, they have been able to slow the pace down a bit.
4:35 p.m. – You should keep an eye on this kid on Memphis named Derrick Rose. He could be a good player one day. Wow. The guy is freaking everywhere. Incredible.
4:45 p.m. – UCLA is playing a surprisingly sloppy game. They just had an ugly travel call, they turned over an in-bounds pass, and they have generally looked unprepared. I expect that to change significantly in the second half. What may not change is the inability of the team, and most notably Kevin Love, to look like they can match up to the high pace of the Tigers.
4:59 p.m. – UCLA closed it up to be behind by just three at the half. That’s flattering given their effort. The over looks very solid given that the total is just 134, but it won’t be as ridiculously high as it was once on pace to be. Memphis just needs to keep doing what is was doing because it was mostly working. They have a big athletic edge and they asserted it. UCLA needs to step it up. Mostly, they just need to look like a team that wants to win. This one could still go either way pretty easily.
5:21 p.m. – Tough back to back fouls for Dorsey and Taggart. That’s another impressive dimension of Love’s game – he brought both of,the fouls on single-handedly.
5:43 – Joey Dorsey is such a difference maker, especially considering he doesn’t have any points. He just owns the boards, and he has done a solid job of aggravating Love.
5:49 p.m. – UCLA is down by 10 with eight minutes left. They have experience coming back from situations like this, but they don’t have much experience playing teams as good as Memphis is. I’m admittedly biased because I like Memphis so much, but I don’t see a comeback happening here.
6:01 p.m. – That was odd – Darren Collison just took an intentional foul to foul out with almost three minutes left. That was a brainless move, but he had a pretty brainless game, so it fits. Maybe he just didn’t want to be part of a hopeless game any more.
6:05 p.m. – Again, the foul shooting woes are no issue for Memphis. They are over 80 percent tonight and coming through just fine when needed.
6:08 p.m. – Ben Howland deserves a lot of credit for making three straight Final Fours, but he really needs to get it done one of these times. It’s not really an excuse to say he keeps running into hot teams playing well.
6:11 p.m. – The second half slowed down quite a bit, mostly because of the struggles of UCLA. The game only went over the total of 134 in the last minute of garbage time. For a while it looked like the teams were going to double the total.
6:14 p.m. – Memphis is going to be very tough to beat on Monday night. They showed emphatically tonight what an edge their athleticism is, and they have shown all tournament their ability to frustrate and confuse the top players for their opponents, and especially the guards. This team is really, really good. They blew out a very good team and it wasn’t like they had to play beyond themselves to do it.
7:03 p.m. – We are underway with game two. Kansas is off to a solid 9-4 start, and they are forcing the matchups they need. Good start. It can’t be caused by Bill Self’s pre-game talk to his team – they showed the view from the locker room, and Self’s speech was as dull and monotonous as Charlie Brown’s teacher.
7:27 p.m. – I would have checked in sooner, but the pizza wasn’t going to eat itself. I think that the pizza must have been laced with peyote or something, because the only way to explain what I am seeing is that I am hallucinating. This is the most ridiculously dominant performance I have seen in a long time (well, a week – since the first half of the Memphis-Michigan State game). It is 38-12 Kansas with eight minutes left in the first half. There is not a person on the planet that could have seen this one coming. I am stunned by how well Kansas is playing, and how poorly North Carolina is. Roy Williams is looking like he is having three simultaneous aneurysms.
7:31 p.m. – Billy Packer, the king of the overstatement, just said that this game is over. That’s obviously premature, but it is hard to argue with him right now.
7:38 p.m. – Eight minutes without a field goal?!?!?!? Did I really just hear that. This is right out of the twilight zone.
7:40 p.m. – How did Tyler Hansbrough and Cole Aldrich trade bodies? Aldrich isn’t even a good player (yet), but in this game he looks like every great white center in one. Incredible.
7:47 p.m. – How quickly things change. Now it is Kansas that needs to get their act together after allowing ten unanswered. Luckily for them they still have an 18 point cushion to work with.
7:56 p.m. – I would imagine that the North Carolina locker room is neither fun nor quiet right now.
8:01 p.m. – The common trait shared by the two dominant teams so far today is that they have looked wildly superior in terms of athleticism.
8:30 p.m. – Apparently the teams switched uniforms at the half. This is the strangest game I have seen in a long, long time.
8:45 p.m. – Kansas is in a world of hurt, but they just need to calm down and realize that they are still up by seven with seven minutes left. That’s a great place to be if you can just forget that you used to be up by 28.
8:56 p.m. – And just like that Kansas is back in control and North Carolina looks lousy again. The Jayhawks are up by 13 with under three minutes left. This one is over.
9:00 p.m. – Well, we got more of the same with the games today – bizarrely one-sided games with much wider margins than we expected. The blowout is truly the story of the last two weeks of this tournament.
9:02 p.m. – This one isn’t quite over, but I’m done. I’ll sleep on the strangeness we witnessed today, and then weigh in tomorrow with my thoughts on Monday’s game. Not what I was expecting, but it should be great.