Monday, April 7, 2014

NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Prediction: (7) Connecticut vs. (8) Kentucky

Let me just start by revisiting the entire spectacle that has been March Madness this year... It wasted no time getting underway as Dayton upset Ohio State in just the first game of the tournament.  Then came incredible nail biters that included UNC-Providence, Connecticut-St. Joe's, Texas-Arizona State, and Louisville-Manhattan, as well as several outrageous upsets including Duke-Mercer, Harvard-Cincinnati, ND State-Oklahoma, and, my pick for best game of the tournament, SF Austin-VCU (still haven't found the foul on the four point play). This was absolutely the best round of 60 in recent memory, but the rest of the tournament was fantastic too, with underdogs like Dayton, UConn, and Kentucky driving far into the tournament and favorites (see: Kansas, Louisville) dropping like flies. I don't think there is a single person out there who would deny that UConn and Kentucky are the two teams that deserve to be in the title game, with the way they have played in the tournament and the caliber of teams they have beaten. A matchup between a seven seed and an eight seed in the finals of this tournament really speaks to the excitement and uncertainty of college basketball, and, quite honestly, the future couldn't look any brighter for the sport.

Now that the recap is over, lets focus on all that we have left to focus on: UConn vs. Kentucky. The teams stack up fairly evenly, with Kentucky looking the more potent offensive team but UConn being the stronger defensive team. Overall, I think the game is going to come down to whether Kentucky can keep the game close until the final minutes. If they can, I have tremendous faith in the performance of of the Wildcats down the stretch and think they will pull out the win. The problem with this is, they have to make it to the last several minutes within reach of the Huskies. I think the Huskies have more consistent scoring options (Napier, Daniels, Boatright, Giffey vs. Randle and Young) and will be the better team defensively. However, I believe that, despite these advantages that UConn has, Kentucky will manage to stay in the game for several reasons. First off, they are lead by John Calipari, and I have no reason to believe that he will let Kentucky simply slide out of the game. Additionally, in nearly every game during this tournament a different person has stepped up for Kentucky, whether it be Marcus Lee or Alex Poythress, and I think the same will occur tonight (watch out for Dakari Johnson). Thus, I have Kentucky winning in a thriller (Aaron Harrison sound familiar?) by a final score of 71-69. So long college basketball, it's been a great season...

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