Texas Longhorns (30-6) vs. Stanford Cardinal (28-7)
When: 7:27 p.m. ET tonight
1. The First Date. If you're not familiar with the Texas Longhorn bench, you're not alone. The five starters average a combined 165 minutes per game, typically seeing rest only when they're in foul trouble. Well, friends, you're about to get a heaping helping of Dexter "Death Star" Pittman (6'10", "299" pounds, sophomore), a slice of Alexis Wangmene (6'7", 241 pounds, freshman), and maybe even a dash of Clint Chapman (6'10", 245 pounds, freshman). It doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to envision Rick Barnes preferring a big line-up to his usual three-undersized-guards set when he takes on Stanford's versions of Beauty and the Beast. Look for A.J. Abrams and Justin Mason to be rotated much more frequently than they usually are (pretty much never) in order to get three burnt orange big men on the court and for the 2-3 zone defense, which the Longhorns ran extremely well against Miami of Florida, to be used for nearly all forty minutes.
2. The Long-Term Relationship. The fine folks at CBS and ESPN can tell you all about the guys who will play huge on-court roles in the success of the Longhorns. To get the full picture of the team, though, you need to know about the seniors: Ian Mooney and J.D. Lewis. Look, it's not likely that either of these guys will see more than a couple of minutes each in any of the remaining games this season and it's even less likely that they'll score actual points. Still, as graduating Longhorn basketball players — Mooney in advertising, Lewis in business — they deserve to have their names mentioned. Mooney's story, in particular, is a great one and should be required reading for anybody who thinks sport can reflect or influence life. Even in this SportsCenter world where uplifting stories are seemingly a dime a dozen, there's always something satisfying about seeing — or, at least, reading about — a prototypical student-athlete.
3. The Break-Up. Speaking of those seniors, though Mooney and Lewis are the only ones which just about instantly begs the question that Texas hoops fans have come to abhor recently: "So who's leaving early this year?" The consensus is that D.J. Augustin and Damion James are the only players in the running. For what it's worth, Augustin has said that he's definitely coming back and many aren't convinced that James is ready for the NBA. Then again, T.J. Ford was "110% sure" he would stay for his junior year and not many people thought that Daniel Gibson was ready for the NBA, either. If both of those guys end up sticking around, it's pretty hard to imagine the Longhorns as anything but strong favorites to show up in Detroit this time next year. But come on. Nobody in Austin will be shocked if they bolt — indeed, we've almost come to expect it. Everybody knows that you can't trust the kids these days. Especially not ones who are presented with million-dollar contracts. — Patrick Nance
1. Michelle Wei Loves Her Some Lopez Twin. Leave it to pro golfer Michele Wei to hook up with one of the Lopez twins, and pick the wrong one. Wei, a Stanford student, is dating Robin Lopez, one of the 14 feet, 2 inches of Lopez brothers who will guide the Cardinal in their third-round game against Texas on Friday in Houston. From Sports Illustrated, via SportsbyBrooks: "Robin is dating Stanford's current most famous female coed, golf phenom Michelle Wie, although both have tried to keep things as quiet as possible." Doesn't she know that Brook is the good twin? Although, Robin is picking it up in the NCAA tournament, perhaps inspired by Michelle. He's averagging 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds over the two games, up from his regular season output of 8.1 points and 5.7 rebounds. But Brook (19.0 points, 10.3 rebounds in he regular season) had 30 points in the OT win over Marquette. Might Michelle be tempted to switch?
2. What Can Brown Do For You?. Although only a junior, Kenny Brown won't be around for the Cardinal next season; he's giving up his final year of college eligibility to attend dental school. A non-scholarship player, Brown rarely plays more than three or four minutes, and hasn't played at all in four games this season. However, he's made six of eight 3-point attempts in Stanford's two tournament games, including a key 3-pointer late in the first half ofthe second game that ended a 10-1 Marquette run. Ad he had 18 points in the win over Cornell.
3. Gone Baby Gone. Curtis Shaw, the ref who ejected Stanford coach Trent Johnson from the Marquette game, may have himself a temper problem. Shaw leads all of college basketball in both technicals called and ejections; the former by 10 over the second-place guy ... Candace Wiggins should be playing for the men's team. She scored a school-record tying 44 points on Monday in Stanford's 88-54 win over UTEP, as the Cardinal women advanced to the NCAA tournament's round of 16. That was the third most points scored in women's tournament history. — Rick Chandler