Brownie Points: Memphis, Kansas won handily in NCAA semifinals, but Tigers are tops

HIGH-FLYER: Memphis guard Chris Douglas-Roberts leads the Tigers into Monday’s NCAA tournament championship game.

You look at the scores of the Final Four games - 78-63 and 84-66 - and think there were two blowouts in the first-ever matchup of four No. 1 seeds.

But there was only one dominant team Saturday in the Alamodome, and it wasn't the Kansas team that took a 40-12 lead in the nightcap. It was the same team that has been dominant all season (38-1) and dominant during the NCAA tournament while naysayers continually wrote obituaries.

In name, perhaps Memphis didn't belong with the other three basketball blue bloods. But once the ball went in the air, it was the Bruins - a team noted for its unrelenting, suffocating defense all season - who didn't belong with the Tigers.

Memphis' opponent in the championship game also won handily over North Carolina. But the Jayhawks looked dominant in spurts, scoring 18 straight points to build that huge lead in the first half, and 13 straight after the Tar Heels closed to within four points.

When Kansas rotated the ball and when inside, UNC was helpless. But when the Jayhawks settled for jumpers and got careless with the ball, they were ordinary. They survived against Davidson to get to the Final Four, and survived Saturday and get to the title game. But if Kansas gets sloppy and away from its game plan Monday night, the Jayhawks won't survive the eye of the Tigers.

The Jayhawks have a shot. They have four big men who can play. Brandon Rush can take over a game. Even with 15 minutes of flat-line play, their defense held a Carolina team that had scored 93 points a game in the tournament to 66. And if that isn't enough, I picked them to win the whole thing three weeks ago.

But Kansas will need 40 solid minutes of its best basketball, because Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts and the rest of the Tigers will pounce on any lull. Regrouping is not an option.


I'm sure it was a case of mistaken identity, but it just goes to show you how deep this Yankees-Red Sox rivalry goes. A red-tailed hawk nesting at Fenway Park attacked a girl on a tour of the stadium, scratching her on the head and drawing blood. Her name is - and you can't make this up - Alexa Rodriguez, and her age is - ready? - 13. You know, if the bird had any tail feathers, he would take his Yankee hatred out on Dave Winfield.


Just Andy Roddick's luck: The guy finally figures out a way to beat Roger Federer, and everyone shrugs because Federer is losing to everyone these days. It's not even the most memorable moment of the Sony Ericsson Open, which goes to Russian Mikhail Youzhny for bashing in his own skull with his racket in a fit of anger Monday. His bloody dome has drawn more than 1.3 million views on the Internet.


How bad are the rest of the Washington Capitals if they can get a 65-goal season from Alex Ovechkin - the most by a left wing in NHL history - and still needed help to sneak into the playoffs in a league where more teams qualify than don't (16 out of 30)? Stick Ovechkin on the Coyotes, and they would not only have a Whiteout, but they'd have home ice for at least one round.

Tirade of the week goes to Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa, who's had some winners in the past but outdid himself when he melted down in response to a simple request to stay in the coaching box.

After being suspended for three games, Bowa's response was a classic. "It's totally uncalled for. You have to ask the people in New York that wear the coats and ties and never get on the field. ... You've got guys who tested positive for steroids and admitted they took them - no suspensions. They're still playing."

David Beckham, who admitted he was only at 50 percent last year but still took 100 percent of the L.A. Galaxy's money, finally scored a legit MLS goal Thursday.

He also had one on a penalty kick in last year's playoffs - all for the bargain price of $50 million a year.

Mike Hampton strained his pectoral muscle - which I believe was the last muscle left in the body that he hadn't hurt - in the bullpen before Thursday's start.

He is in the final year of an eight-year deal during which he's made $121 million in 134 starts (53 wins).

Dream scenario for the Suns: They catch the Lakers, get the third seed and face Houston in the first round - facing the winner of the San Antonio-Dallas series in the second round.

I can't come up with a better path to the conference finals.

What a great finish to the season for Daniel Carcillo of the Coyotes.

After keying a Phoenix near-comeback in the third period Thursday night against the Stars by dropping Krystofer Barch with one punch, he knew he'd have a bull's eye on his chest in Friday's rematch in Dallas. His response?

His first career hat trick.

The five best things about opening week in baseball:

FIVE: The opening day parade through the streets of downtown Cincinnati. No school for the kids. Now, if TV will just give the honor of the first game back to the River City.

FOUR: The great Cardinals of the past circling the playing field in convertibles, waving to the crowd and receiving one more ovation. Musial. Gibson. Brock. McGwire? Nope.

THREE: Admit it, you missed your daily dose of John Kruk, didn't you?

TWO: The annual "Who gets to the disabled list faster?" between Pedro Martinez and Mike Hampton goes to Pedro - but only because his turn in the rotation came up first.

ONE: The Kansas City Royals sweep their first series of the season and baseball's most patient fans are allowed to dream - even if it lasts only as long as the free preview of the baseball pay-per-view package.

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