Half of the Final Four was set today, as UCLA beat Memphis 50-45, and LSU beat Texas 70-60 in overtime. UCLA rode shut-down defense all game to a win in the lowest scoring regional final ever, while LSU pounded it in to "Big Baby" and Tyrus Thomas to eventually wear down Texas.
For the summary of UCLA/Memphis, I'll use this paragraph from Wayne Drehs of ESPN:
But it wasn't nearly enough -- because of the Bruins' defense. When Howland came to UCLA from Pittsburgh three years ago, this is what he sold to his players: defense, focus and mental toughness. They bought in. And Saturday night in northern California, he was proven right. When his two star players -- guards Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo -- combined to go 3-of-18 from the floor, when his team shot 51 percent from the free-throw line, when they were outrebounded by five and committed 17 turnovers, they still won.
Memphis coach John Calipari called it "The ugliest game I've ever coached in. Easily."
But you're definitely not going to hear any complaining from me!
For LSU, meanwhile, it was all about the big boys. Glen Davis wore down LeMarcus Aldridge down low on his way to 26 points and 9 rebounds, while freshman Tyrus Thomas contributed 21 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks, as well as making Texas reluctant to take it to the hoop. They held Texas to 30% from the field, including Aldridge's 2/14 effort. The Sports Page has some nice pictures from each game, while Deadspin says Indianapolis buffet restaurants should prepare for Glen Davis now.
This sets up a really intriguing Final Four matchup. If you like great defensive basketball, you're going to want to tune in. Both teams like games low scoring, as evidenced by today's action. LSU will obviously try to get it inside, but UCLA has some bodies to throw at the big guys down low, and their pressure defense from the guards will make it tough for the guards to enter the ball. That will definitely be the interesting matchup to watch.
Anyway, I like Connecticut and Villanova to win out in the other regional semifinals, which take place Sunday.