Skip to content

National Title Preview: No. 7 UConn vs. No. 8 Kentucky

Apr 7, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

source:

AP Photo

FINAL FOURNational title game primer | All of our Final Four coverage | Fluky vs. Lucky

ARLINGTON, Texas — The college basketball season comes to a close tonight as No. 7 seed UConn squares off with No. 8 seed Kentucky in the national title game. Here is all you need to know about this matchup:

WHEN: 9:10 p.m. ET (TBS)

WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

MAJOR STORY LINES: No one has ever won a national title while starting five freshmen. Michigan’s Fab Five played for a title in 1991 with five freshmen leading the way, and, for the record, they did it as a No. 6 seed. Kentucky’s 2012 team won a title, and while the theme of that tournament run was that Coach Cal proved that a team built around freshmen could win it all, what gets forgotten is that those Wildcats only started three freshmen along with Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones. This would be the first team to ever bring home a ring with five freshmen in the starting lineup.

UConn, however, is looking to pull off one of the most improbable national title runs of all time. They are a seven seed. They beat the Atlantic 10 tournament champs, the Big East regular season champs, the Big 12 tournament champs, the Big Ten tournament champs (who also happened to be the favorite to win the title) and the No. 1 overall seed who hadn’t lost in 30 games. And now they’re trying to beat the preseason No. 1 team. With all due respect to these Huskies, this group would probably be the “worst” national champion of all time, which makes what they’ve done the last month all the more impressive.

KEY STATS: On the season, UConn’s allowed opponents to grab 32.9% of their available offensive rebounds, which ranks 247th nationally. In their five NCAA tournament games, UConn that number fell to 28.9%, which is top 60. Kentucky has an overwhelming size advantage in the front court and they are the nation’s best offensive rebounding team.

KEY PLAYERS: The key matchup for the Huskies is going to be between Ryan Boatright and Andrew Harrison. UConn is going to have issues keeping Kentucky’s big men from doing damage in the paint Monday night, but one of the best ways to counteract an overpowering front line is to get out and pressure the guards, making it difficult to throw an entry pass to a player in the post. Boatright has been sensational of late at playing as the point of UConn’s defensive pressure, and he should be able to do the same against the bigger, slower Harrisons.

RELATEDUConn played Florida’s game | Alex Poythress | Kentucky’s game-winner

POINT SPREAD: Kentucky (-3)

THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. DeAndre Daniels: He’s perennially the x-factor for UConn. He’s a lottery-level talent that doesn’t always play like a lottery level talent. When he does, like he has throughout this tournament, UConn is a completely different team.

2. Kentucky’s perimeter defense: What UConn is going to try to do is to control the ball in the half court and limit Kentucky’s possessions offensively, which means that UConn’s offense will, more often than not, devolve into the Huskies allowing Napier and Boatright to try and make a play getting into the lane at the end of a shot clock. Keep them from penetrating and beat UConn.

3. Kentucky’s commitment to the paint: The Wildcats have been terrific shooting the ball from the perimeter in this tournament, but the reason that they beat Wisconsin is that they consistently pounded the ball into the paint, whether via entry pass or penetration. If they avoid settling for threes, they’ll win.

CBT PREDICTION: Kentucky

Latest Posts
  1. Ohio State center won’t request immediate eligibility waiver

    Sep 23, 2014, 10:10 AM EDT

    Marshall Plumlee, Trevor Thompson AP

    The former Virginia Tech big man will work hard in 2014-15 with an eye towards being a primary option in 2015-16.

  2. Purdue athletic department will sell copies of old game films

    Sep 22, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Matt Painter AP

    Purdue is offering to sell old game films using a company that hopes to do the same with over 600 colleges.

  3. Florida State gets commitment from 7-foot-4 2015 center

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:47 PM EDT

    Leonard Hamilton AP

    Florida State added a big man in 2015 to go along with its three talented perimeter threats.

  4. N.C. State has three new jersey designs for 2014-15 (PHOTO)

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Mark Gottfried AP

    The Wolfpack have some new threads for the upcoming season.

  5. Creighton lands 2015 point guard commitment

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    300x1 AP

    Creighton picked up a point guard in the 2015 class on Monday.

  6. Newspaper apologizes for its illustration of Kentucky head coach John Calipari

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

    John Calipari John Calipari

    The image places alongside a column on the recent USA Basketball debate caused an uproar in the Bluegrass State.

  7. Vanderbilt releases non-conference schedule

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    SEC Basketball Tournament - First Round Getty Images

    Kevin Stallings’ young team will play away from Nashville three times before the start of SEC play, with two of those games being played on a neutral court.

  8. Three-star 2015 small forward cuts list to four schools

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Jason Minick/Reebok Jason Minick/Reebok

    The St. Anthony product is a valuable recruit for each of the remaining schools, as they all have the eventual loss of current seniors to account for.

  9. Dayton reels in three-star guard for fourth 2015 commitment

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:39 PM EDT

    Archie Miller AP

    Having landed commitments from three forwards, the Flyers added a piece for their backcourt on Monday.

  10. Four-star forward becomes Nebraska’s third 2015 commitment

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:58 AM EDT

    Tim Miles AP

    The Simeon HS forward officially visited Nebraska this weekend, and both of his parents attended the school as well.

  11. Western Kentucky asks fans for input on alternate jersey design

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:26 AM EDT

    Ray Harper Ray Harper

    Fans have three different designs from which to choose, with the winning option scheduled to be revealed next Monday.

  12. 6-foot-9 power forward verbally commits to Towson

    Sep 21, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    UMBC v Towson Getty Images

    The Tigers, who won 25 games last season, landed their first commitment in the Class of 2015 Sunday night.

  13. Georgia-based combo guard becomes Charlotte’s first 2015 commitment

    Sep 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Alan Major Alan Major

    With both Pierria Henry and Terrence Williams being seniors, Charlotte needed to add a perimeter player in 2015.

  14. Louisiana-based shooting guard verbally commits to Rhode Island

    Sep 21, 2014, 9:21 PM EDT

    Rhode Island v George Washington Getty Images

    URI head coach Dan Hurley landed his second 2015 commitment Sunday evening.

  15. Wake Forest lands four-star point guard in Class of 2015

    Sep 21, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT

    Danny Manning Danny Manning

    Danny Manning finally has his first 2015 commitment and the player’s a very important one with regard to the future of the program.

  16. In-state forward becomes Cleveland State’s first 2015 commitment

    Sep 21, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT

    Gary Waters

    The Vikings have added some depth to their front court for the 2015-16 season.

  17. Weight room providing valuable lessons for Wichita State newcomers

    Sep 21, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    Gregg Marshall Gregg Marshall

    The Shockers won’t lack for capable leaders this season, and their newcomers have followed the lead of those veterans in the weight room.

  18. Assigned Reading: Colorado State’s Antwan Scott overcomes obstacles

    Sep 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Grambling State Grambling State

    A good read on Colorado State’s new senior transfer, Antwan Scott, overcoming family obstacles while still succeeding on the court.