NCAA Men’s Tournament – Final Four Preview – UConn vs. Kentucky
The West Region champion Connecticut Huskies will face the East Region champion Kentucky Wildcats in the second game of this year’s NCAA Men’s Tournament’s Final Four this Saturday night. Game time from Reliant Stadium in Houston is set for 8:49 p.m. (ET) and it will be broadcast on CBS.
Many people thought Connecticut would be out of gas heading into this tournament after a five-game run to the Big East Tournament Title the week before. If anything, the Big East run has actually helped to energize this team on its march to the Final Four as its confidence level is at an all-time high. The Huskies rolled to victories over Bucknell and Cincinnati in their first two games and passed a huge test in a 74-67 victory over No.2 seed San Diego State in the Sweet 16 as a two-point underdog. They were a 3 ½-point favorite against No.5 seed Arizona in the Elite Eight and did not disappoint with a 65-63 win.
Kemba Walker remains the primary reason that Connecticut has been able to advance this far. He scored a game-high 36 points in the win over the Aztecs and had a team-high 20 points against the Wildcats. Freshman guard/forward Jeremy Lamb has also come up big with 24 points against San Diego State and 19 against Arizona.
One area of concern for the Huskies is consistency from three-point range. While they shot over 50 percent against the Aztecs, they went just 5-for-17 from beyond the arc against Arizona. They were also outrebounded by the Wildcats 39-28 and will have to do a much better job under the boards against these next set of Wildcats.
Kentucky came into the NCAA Tournament with five freshmen on the roster including starters’ Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, and Doron Lamb. The youthful Wildcats survived a ‘baptism of fire’ in 59-57 nail biter over No.15 seed Princeton as a 12 ½-point favorite. They then posted a 71-63 win over No.5 seed West Virginia as a 3.5-point favorite, but their biggest accomplishment was a 62-60 victory over No.1 seed Ohio State in the Sweet 16 as a 5 ½-point underdog. Kentucky then had to grind-out a 76-69 win on Sunday over No.2 seed North Carolina as a 1 ½-point favorite to land itself in the Final Four.
It was Knight’s 15-foot jumper with five seconds left that sealed the win over the Buckeyes, but DeAndre Liggens and Josh Harrelson combined for 33 points to lead the way. Knight came up big again against the Tar Heels by leading five Wildcats scoring in double-figures with 22 points. Kentucky shot 48.2 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from three-point range in that game.
Connecticut is 8-1 against the spread in its last nine games and the total has stayed ‘under’ in four of its last five games. Kentucky is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games and the total has stayed ‘under’ in four of its last five games.
Head-to-head, the Huskies rolled to an 84-67 win in late November this season as a 4.5-point road underdog and the total went ‘over’ the 142.4 point line. Something tells you that this time around things are going to end-up much closer than that.
Popularity: 13% [?]