Saturday, April 2, 8:45 pm EST
Finally the pool of 68 teams has been narrowed down to the best basketball teams in the country. From the First 4 to the Final 4, this year’s tournament has been filled with upsets and surprises. On Saturday night the UConn Huskies will square off against the Wildcats from Kentucky. This matchup has occurred already this season. On November 25, 2010, in the final game of the Maui Invitation Tournament,UConn defeated Kentucky in runaway fashion 84-67. At the time the Wildcats were a young, inexperienced team still struggling to find team chemistry.
In a short 5 months this Kentucky team has transformed from a young disorganized group of basketball players to a team that plays well together. The question still remains though, do they have enough experience?
On the other hand, the UConn Huskies are considered the team full of experience and veterans. The Huskies have proven this year that they know how to win, having not lost a tournament game all season. First, winning the Maui Invitational and next, the Big East Tournament, UConn is currently riding a 9 game winning streak. Led by guard Kemba Walker, who seems to put in 30 points a night, the Huskies have seemed unstoppable.
Kentucky will look to keep up their well balanced attack, possibly looking to run more of their offense through their only senior, center Josh Harrellson. On the other side, UConn as always, will like to run its offense through Kemba Walker. Kentucky has to stop Walker to come out victorious, but some believe that Kemba is just too good. The Wildcats may have to resort to doubling Walker, but that leaves an open floor Alex Oriakhi, Jeremy Lamb, and Shabazz Napier. To win Kentucky is going to have to find a way of contesting every shot Kemba Walker takes and keeping the UConn big-men off the glass. Getting Oriakhi in early foul trouble would dramatically increase their chances of winning.
In order to win, UConn will need another stellar performance from Kemba. However, can they go to the well one more time? Will Kemba ever not have the answer? At the present it seems as though he has to answer to anything anyone can throw at him.
The other subplot to this game that has flown under the radar is John Calipari’s coaching performances in the tournament over the past few years. Time and time again his teams have just not been able to find a way to get the job done. It’s a simple as that. Everything from stupid plays to the inability to close a game out at the free throw line has cost Calipari national championships.
No matter the outcome of the game it should be a great one for college basketball. Will the young team with “no experience” and a coach without the ability to win the big one be able to defeat the winning ways of the Connecticut Huskies? As all college basketball fans know, in the NCAA tournament, once the first horn blows and the opening tip is throw up all prior knowledge goes out the window. The truth is anything can happen.