Friday, August 29, 2014
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A big night for big men

If things keep going the way they are, we are headed for an almighty showdown between two incredibly skilled big men in the national championship game.

A big night for big men

Okay, so neither of last night's games proved to be really close in the end. Yes, Louisville made North Carolina sweat a bit, but is anyone really surprised that the Tar Heels pulled away?

If anything, UCLA's domination of Xavier was more surprising given the Bruins' early-game struggles the last few games.

What we do know, though, is that the better team won both games. Should that happen again today, we will have the first ever Final Four with all No. 1 seeds. And if it does, we will surely end up with the best Final Four in history.

How can you not salivate over the prospect of Memphis, UCLA, Kansas and North Carolina facing off in San Antonio. They are the top four teams in the Pomeroy rankings, but our eyes and instincts also tell us that they are the four best teams in the country. And they have been all year, despite the occasional slip-ups that any team is prone to have over a long season.

Combined, the four teams have 141 wins and nine losses. The worst of the latter, by Pomeroy ranking, was Kansas' one-point defeat at No. 58 Oklahoma State.

It now falls to the Jayhawks and Tigers to hold up their ends of things, though our instincts also tell us they are the least likely to do so. Will Bill Self's Final Four jinx continue, not to mention John Calipari's? Will D.J. Augustin or Stephen Curry raise their games and carry their teams to victory again? The answers will come in a few hours.

What we do know is that two extraordinary big men, Kevin Love and Tyler Hansbrough, will be waiting at the Alamodome. The most outstanding player of the regular season and the most outstanding player of the NCAA Tournament (along with Curry) carried their teams to regional finals yesterday.

Let us salute them and the box score lines they posted.

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
K. Love
33
7-11
3-4
2-4
5
5
10
4
0
1
2
3
29
19

Name
Min
FG
FT
3pt
OR
DR
TR
A
S
TO
Blk
PF
Eff
Pts
T. Hansbrough
38
12-17
4-5
0-0
7
6
13
1
2
5
0
3
33
28


For today's video, I've picked three clips: one of UCLA and two of Carolina. In addition to Kevin Love's big game, Bruins forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute also posted a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds. Here's the basket that got him into double digits in scoring, preceded by a pretty passing sequence:

Next we have Hansbrough's follow-up slam that cut off a Louisville run early in the second half. The lead was down to four points when Hansbrough came flying through the lane with authority to put back Danny Green's miss. Watch how far he comes from, and how fast he gets to the basket:

And finally, the game's killer shot. The Tar Heels were up by seven with just under two minutes ago, and after running some clock the ball came to Hansbrough. Just as impressive as the length of the jumper was the dribble fake that preceded it:

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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