For the first time all four No. 1 seeds have reached the Final Four. Here's a look at the matchups Saturday in San Antonio:
UCLA vs. Memphis
After an easy opening-round win over Mississippi Valley State, UCLA wasn't very impressive until dismantling Xavier in the West Regional final to advance to the Final Four for the third straight year. The Bruins beat Texas A&M in the second round in yet another game where they benefited from a controversial officiating decision as they did in a couple of key games at the end of the regular season. Then they lost all but four points of a 21-point halftime lead in the win over Western Kentucky. It's been all Kevin Love for the Bruins in the tournament with the freshman coming up with four double-doubles including 29 points and 14 rebounds against Western Kentucky.
Memphis had a close win in the second round over Mississippi State but otherwise the Tigers have been as dominant as a one-loss team should be. Their first half in the regional semifinal win over Michigan State was about as good as a team can have against a quality opponent. It's also been a freshman in the starring role as Derrick Rose averaged 20.5 points and 6.0 assists in the four games. The Tigers entered the tournament as one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country, but they have shot 67.3 percent in the four wins including 30-for-36 in the regional final against Texas.
UCLA beat No. 16 Mississippi Valley State 70-29; No. 9 Texas A&M 53-49; No. 12 Western Kentucky 88-78 and No. 3 Xavier 76-57.
Memphis beat No. 16 Texas-Arlington 87-63; No. 8 Mississippi State 77-74; No. 5 Michigan State 92-74 and No. 2 Texas 85-67.
Ben Howland's first two trips to the Final Four ended with losses to Florida and like the others, this one was centered on defense.
John Calipari led Massachusetts to the Final Four in 1996. This is his first appearance with Memphis in the Final Four after falling one game short the last two seasons.
While Love and his old style have drawn most of the attention, junior point guard Darren Collison has remained the glue on both ends of the floor. Junior forward Josh Shipp has struggled with his shooting during the tournament (8-for-27), but the Bruins have gotten big efforts from a healthier Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Russell Westbrook and reserve James Keefe.
Memphis' balanced offense is led by Chris Douglas-Roberts (17.5) and the Tigers are tough on the boards behind Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier. While many experts considered Memphis the most likely No. 1 seed to lose, Calipari's idea of playing the Tigers' wins as upsets has worked. They have played with passion especially early in games.
UCLA extended its own record with its 18th Final Four appearance and the Bruins have won the title a record 11 times, the last in 1995.
This is Memphis' third Final Four appearance. Its first, in 1973, ended with an 87-66 loss to UCLA when Bill Walton went 21-for-22 from the field.
The teams had four common opponents this season (Michigan State, Texas, Southern California, Arizona). UCLA went 5-2 against them, losing to Texas and Southern California, while Memphis beat all four.
Most coaches say experience is one of the keys to an NCAA tournament run, and few teams ever had as much as UCLA does with six players heading for their third Final Four.
NORTH CAROLINA vs. KANSAS
North Carolina was the No. 1 of the No. 1s and the Tar Heels played that way throughout , with the 10-point win over Louisville in the East Regional final their closest game. They broke the 100-point mark in the first two games and then played like the second-highest scoring offense in the country in beating Washington State and Louisville, two of the better defensive teams. Center Tyler Hansbrough averaged 21.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in the tournament including 28 points, 13 rebounds and two huge jumpers late in the win over Louisville. It didn't hurt that the Tar Heels played all four games in their home state in buildings filled with blue-clad fans.
Kansas was very impressive in its first three games, then became the first team to find a way to beat Davidson and star guard Stephen Curry. It may be the Jayhawks' defense against Curry on the final possession of the Midwest Regional final that becomes their signature moment of the tournament. With seven players averaging between 13.1 and 7.1 points, Kansas is deep, balanced and big. The Jayhawks shot 44 percent in the win over Davidson, the first time in the tournament they shot below 53 percent. UNLV was the only single-digit team Kansas has played so far.
North Carolina beat No. 16 Mount St. Mary's, Md. 113-74; No. 9 Arkansas 108-77; No. 4 Washington State 68-47; and No. 3 Louisville 83-73.
Kansas beat No. 16 Portland State 85-61; No. 8 UNLV 75-56; No. 12 Villanova 72-57; and No. 10 Davidson 59-57.
North Carolina's Roy Williams is making his sixth trip to the Final Four, tied for fourth-highest all-time. Williams led the Tar Heels to the national championship in 2005.
Bill Self took Tulsa and Illinois to one regional final each. This one with Kansas becomes his first appearance at a Final Four.
Hansbrough has gotten the bulk of the attention all season but the Tar Heels have plenty of options on offense and it seems they take turns coming up with big games. Ty Lawson missed seven games with a sprained ankle and the Tar Heels haven't lost since he returned. Lawson is starting to show the speed and open-court presence that was the staple of the offense before he got hurt.
Brandon Rush would have left for the NBA except for a knee injury that forced him to return and he leads the Jayhawks in scoring (13.1). Guards Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins are more than solid on both ends of the court with defense their strong suit. Up front it's Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson both averaging about 12 points and six rebounds.
North Carolina's 17 Final Fours are second only to UCLA and the Tar Heels have won the title four times behind only UCLA, Kentucky and Indiana.
Kansas is in the Final Four for the 13th time, tied for fourth on the all-time list and the Jayhawks have won it all twice, the last in 1988. The first of their four Final Four trips under Williams came in 1991 when they beat North Carolina and coach Dean Smith in the semifinals.
The teams had three common opponents this season (Georgia Tech, Boston College, Davidson) with North Carolina going 4-0 and Kansas 3-0. North Carolina beat Davidson 72-68 in its season opener and Kansas defeated the Wildcats 59-57 in its most recent game.
North Carolina was ranked No. 1 for 14 of the 20 polls this season, while Kansas was ranked as high as second and never lower than sixth. Williams could have the toughest time with offcourt distractions with his long, successful relationships at both schools.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.