After an entire month of March and several great games, the NCAA Title Game is finally here. The two winningest programs in college basketball history square off in what was an unlikely matchup as the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Kansas Jayhawks for an NCAA Championship. The game is scheduled for a 9:23 p.m. start time and it will be televised live on CBS. Currently the odds have Kentucky favored by 6 points with the total sitting at 137.5 points for the contest.
Free Analysis: These two squads already played at one point this season. Kentucky coach John Calipari has never won a national title. Kansas coach Bill Self just won a title a few years ago. Two winningest programs in the history of college basketball. Story lines galore. Add to that each of these universities believe that this season is "their" year. Kentucky began the season ranked in the Top 5 and hasn't been able to leave, running up 37 wins along the way and finding themselves at the pinnacle of college sports. Kansas, on the other hand, ended up as a No. 2 seed in this year's tournament and ran the gauntlet to get here. If we look at these two teams side by side, Kansas has a more impressive resume for their tournament run. They knocked off Detroit in the opening round, but then had two one-possession wins against Purdue and NC State. North Carolina didn't play with point guard Kendall Marshall and Kansas took advantage of it, beating up on the Tar Heels and not allowing them to score in the final 3 minutes to pull away. In Sunday's Final Four win over Ohio State, Tyshawn Taylor made two big free throws late, and All-American Thomas Robinson finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. Even better? Kansas played from behind the entire game, leading for a grand total of 3 minutes, 48 seconds. Anthony Davis and top-seeded Kentucky are right where they planned to be all along, playing for the national title. It will be Kentucky's first appearance in the title game since winning a seventh NCAA championship in 1998. The Wildcats knocked off in-state rival Louisville in their Final Four matchup Sunday in a game where Louisville out-rebounded Kentucky 40-33, including a whopping 19-6 advantage on the offensive glass. Kentucky beat up on every team they played in the tournament to this point, with their closest game coming at the hands of Louisville. Calipari's team blew out Western Kentucky, Iowa State, Indiana and Baylor. The front-court battle of Robinson and Davis is going to be one for the ages. Kentucky has a wealth of talent on their squad as Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are probably lottery picks in the upcoming NBA draft, while Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb are among the others with first-round potential. Calipari's first two trips to the Final Four have been vacated because of NCAA violations. Will this one be as well? Both of these teams played earlier in the season, where Kansas struggled to finish around the rim against Kentucky. The Jayhawks missed a season-high 21 of their layups and dunks, nine of which were blocked, including five by Davis. The Wildcats scored 47 second half points in that game to pull away for the win.
Free Pick: Kentucky has been on fire all season and it appears as if no one is going to be able to stop them. However, Kansas has played in extremely close games all tournament and I really think this will be a close game as well. The first game this season between these clubs was a double-digit win for Kentucky, but Kansas has played some significant games since then. With Robinson in the middle I believe this game is going to stay close. The Jayhawks are going to rebound the basketball and making free throws are going to be important tonight. Calipari teams typically struggle from the free throw line and if that happens again tonight, they're going to be in a dog fight. Kentucky shoots under 73% from the line this season while Kansas is even worse, connecting on just 69% for the season. Free throws are going to tell who wins this game.
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