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#4 Kentucky Wildcats (29-8) vs. #3 Connecticut Huskies (30-9)
Betting Line: Kentucky -2.5 o/u 140
The marquee matchup of the Final Four features two teams from major conferences who have been rolling ever since the postseason began. Neither the West Region champion UConn Huskies (30-9) nor the East Region champion Kentucky Wildcats (29-8) have lost a game since their conference tournaments began, and they only one loss between them on neutral courts this year. Ironically, Kentucky (-2) lost 84-67 to Connecticut in the championship of the Maui Invitational back on November 24. Besides that, the teams are a combined 22-0.
The Huskies are arguably the hottest team remaining after becoming the first team ever to win five games in five days during the Big East tournament. Some thought star guard Kemba Walker would simply not have enough energy to put together a similar run in the NCAA tournament, but he has been nothing short of spectacular in the first four games, averaging nearly 27 points and seven assists. No team has been able to contain him, making him the clear favorite to be named Most Outstanding Player on Monday assuming his team gets to play for the national title.
The Wildcats saw Walker score 29 points against them in Maui but have since matured into a better team than the one that flamed out a year ago despite making history with five future NBA first-round draft picks. They have an outstanding point guard of their own in freshman Brandon Knight, who replaced one-and-done John Wall, the top overall selection in last year's draft. Knight has a clear size advantage over Walker but was taken to school in the first meeting, making just 3 of 15 shots from the field and missing all eight of his 3-point attempts. Regardless of Kentucky head coach John Calipari's questionable recruiting style, he has done a fine job of making adjustments against teams he faces a second time. Look for that success to continue.
Once again, two hot teams, on a roll, this is anyone's game. You're certainly not going to find an edge in the line at this stage. Not between these two teams. You have the revenge angle working for Kentucky having lost once to UCONN already.
We're going to ride the Huskies here. We mentioned in our write up for the UCONN/Arizona game how things will be different for UCONN in the near future. Calhoun is suspended for the first 3 games next season on top of both self imposed and NCAA sanctions. Jim Calhoun turns 69 in May. There was some doubt that he would even resign for his current contract which is now good through 2014.
The odds are against Calhoun getting another crack at this. We love story book endings so in a game with no real significant edge either way, we'll go with the better story.
Pick: UCONN +2.5
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