You can measure Saturday's NCAA Midwest Regional final between Memphis State and Oklahoma in height and breadth. The Tigers have height, the Sooners have breadth.
Oklahoma, the regional's top seed, looks more like it belongs in the Cotton Bowl. The Sooners (31-5) not only have Olympian Wayman Tisdale, who is 6 feet 9 and 250 pounds, but also 6-5, 200-pound sophomore forward Darryl Kennedy and 6-7, 238-pound forward-center David Johnson.
"You measure size in two ways," Memphis State Coach Dana Kirk said. "You measure it in height, and also width. We have the skyscrapers, but they take up a lot of real estate."
Memphis State (30-3), which is seeded second, claims all the height with 6-10 forward Keith Lee and 7-foot center William Bedford. That makes Saturday's meeting to decide who goes to the Final Four sort of like a wrestling match between Godzilla and the Giant Mastodon.
"They're big; I noticed that right away," Oklahoma Coach Billy Tubbs said.
The Tigers and the Sooners advanced to the final with last-second shots Thursday night. Tisdale's jumper in overtime beat Louisiana Tech, 86-84, and Andre Turner's 17-footer with one second remaining beat Boston College, 59-57.
Both teams were in deep foul trouble. Memphis State's Lee had three fouls in the first five minutes, and Tisdale and Johnson each played much of the second half with four fouls. The same situation could occur again, especially in light of the Sooners' truck-driver physiques.
"We'll be physical," Johnson said. "We can do the same damage inside that they can. We stress posting up inside and getting the man on our backs. That's what we're good at. Then we turn around and take the shot."
Lee, who averages 19.8 points and 7.7 rebounds, has been in foul trouble in 10 of his last 11 games. Against Boston College, he finished with eight points. Most of his fouls come over the back, which is what the Sooners will try to coax out of him.
"You take the ball right to him," Johnson said. "You'll either score or get the foul."
But the Tigers seem to have done just as well without Lee. Bedford scored 23 points against Boston College. In fact, they might be a better team without their all-America forward.
"They seem to play harder when he's not in there," Kirk said. "When he is in, they sometimes say, 'Maybe I'll let the other guy get this one.' "
Another important matchup is at the guard spot, between Memphis State's Turner, who made the game-winning jumper against Boston College, and Oklahoma's Linwood Davis, a graduate of Washington's Theodore Roosevelt High School.
Turner has won two straight games with last-second jumpers. Against Alabama-Birmingham Sunday, he made a 17-footer with five seconds remaining. His nickname among the Tigers is "the Little General," and he sports a baseball cap decorated with military stars.
"We're going to get Andre a new hat," Kirk said. "After these last two games, we're going to give him a promotion. Maybe we'll make him a field marshal or something."
But this still is a big man's game -- more accurately, Tisdale's game. Whether he can penetrate against a 7-footer could well determine who advances to the national semifinals against the Southeast Regional champion.
The turnaround jumper is Tisdale's speciality, as is drawing the foul. The Sooners' set offense revolves almost completely around him, as his average of 25.6 points a game indicates. In the overtime against Louisiana Tech, he had eight of Oklahoma's 12 points.
"I go up against an all-America every day in practice," Johnson said. "When you play against Wayman you get pounded. He can throw those elbows inside."
Tisdale has also been the designated media star. He has regaled everyone here with his stories of playing for Bob Knight on the U.S. Olympic basketball team last summer.
"It made me a better person," he said, poker faced. "I learned that the high school teacher I thought was the meanest person I ever met was not the meanest person I would ever meet."
He took constant heat from Knight for his unwillingness to run the floor. One day during practice, Knight stopped and took out a sheet of paper. He dated it, signed it and wrote, "Wayman Tisdale hustled today."
Tisdale's experience with Knight made it easier to deal with Tubbs, a mercurial sort who also can throw a tantrum from time to time. But it doesn't stop Tisdale, one of the few Sooners who can tease Tubbs and get away with it.
"Sometimes the coach will yell at us and I just have to turn around and go like this," he said, giggling behind his hand.
Tisdale's dominance of the Oklahoma offense and the attention he gets caused some tension at first among the Sooners. But when he makes such shots as the turnaround that beat Louisiana Tech, it's hard to be resentful.
"We had a little of that in the offseason," junior forward Anthony Bowie said. "Sometimes one person might have thought that another guy was hogging the ball too much, taking all the shots. I kind of looked at it that way for a a while. But then we realized that, if we didn't get together, there was no hope for us."