Sunday, April 06, 2008

Memphis vs. Kansas: An NCAA Championship Breakdown

After surprisingly lopsided semifinal victories, Memphis and Kansas will square off for the NCAA men’s basketball championship on Monday night. The Jayhawks are seeking their first national championship since 1988, while the Tigers look to claim the first NCAA title in school history. For an insightful analysis of the respective rosters, well, you’re in the wrong place. As for my breakdown, here we go:

Mascots: A Jayhawk is a mythical creature, but a Tiger is real and can rip you to shreds. The one similarity? Tigers and Jayhawks have both recently inflicted damage on someone named Roy. Advantage: Memphis.

Past NBA Stars: Penny Hardaway had moments of greatness after his college career at Memphis. But no one could score like KU’s Wilt Chamberlain. He was a great hoops player too. Advantage: Kansas.

Jim Nantz: Whether it’s Augusta or San Antonio, it’s natural for him to proclaim “a Tiger championship” in early April. Advantage: Memphis.

Republican Presidential Candidates: Bob Dole, who attended KU, was waxed like a 16-seed in the 1996 election. But unlike Memphis alum Fred Thompson, at least he got the nomination. Advantage: Kansas.

FedEx: Memphis plays its home games at the FedEx Forum and won the Conference USA tournament there. On the other hand, Kansas won the FedEx Orange Bowl against actual competition. Advantage: Kansas.

School Mottos: U of M’s appropriately succinct motto is translated as “Dreamers. Thinkers. Doers.” KU’s is translated as, “I will see this great vision in which the bush does not burn.” Commenting on whoever came up with that motto, John Kerry remarked, “Man, that guy was long-winded!” Advantage: Memphis.

City Landmarks: Allen Fieldhouse is a basketball treasure, but unlike Graceland, it doesn’t display sequined jumpsuits worn by Elvis. Advantage: Memphis.

Fab Five: The last time a team with a starting point guard named Rose was in the finals, Jalen lost two straight championship games. At least Derrick will only have one opportunity. Advantage: Kansas.

Major League Baseball: There are no Hawks in the Majors, but the Jays are 4-2. Meanwhile, the Tigers are still winless. Advantage: Kansas.

Mathematics: According to Wikipedia, U of M’s mathematics department has more Erdos number 1 mathematicians than any other research institution in the world. I have no idea what that means, but it sounds impressive, and it mentions “number 1.” Advantage: Memphis.

Jacque Vaughn: The former KU point guard won a ring with the Spurs last year. So Jayhawks know how to win championships in San Antonio. Advantage: Kansas.

Coaches’ Names: “Calipari” sounds like a fried seafood appetizer. But “Self” is a lousy name for someone who wants to promote teamwork. Advantage: Memphis.

Classic Rock: One team is named Kansas, with a star named Rush. And “Rock” is part of its famous chant. The other has CDR, but not CCR. Advantage: Kansas.

Mayors: Lawrence’s mayor is Sue Hack, whose last name suggests foul trouble. W.W. Herenton is the mayor of Memphis, and the whole point of this weekend in San Antonio is to string two W’s together. Advantage: Memphis.

I Love the 80’s: Memphis last made the Final Four in 1985, when it was still Memphis State. But Danny Manning led the Jayhawks all the way in 1988. Back then, a Manning could win a title and NOT be in a zillion commercials. Advantage: Kansas.

Tallying up the results, it’s Kansas 8, Memphis 7. So Monday night, it will be a Rock Chalk Jayhawk Riverwalk.