The NCAA Finals are here and we will see the Kansas Jayhawks take on the Kentucky Wildcats. 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: It seems only fitting that the two winningest programs in NCAA Division I men's basketball history square off for this year's national championship, as the second-seeded Kansas Jayhawks battle the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats tonight at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.The game not only features two tradition-rich schools, but also a pair of national award winners in Kansas head man Bill Self (Naismith Coach of the Year) and Kentucky freshman sensation Anthony Davis (John R. Wooden Player of the Year). It's also the second time this season the two will have met this year. When these teams met back on Nov. 15 at Madison Square Garden, the game was tied at halftime, but in the second half, Kansas made just 9-of-32 shots (28%), while Kentucky shot 64% FG, including 6-of-9 threes, to win by 10. PF Thomas Robinson (17.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG) and PG Tyshawn Taylor (16.5 PPG, 4.8 APG) are the primary scorers for the Jayhawks. Robinson had 19 points and eight boards against the Buckeyes, and is averaging 16.4 PPG and 11.6 RPG in the NCAA tourney. A big reason Kansas couldn’t stick with Kentucky earlier this year is because Robinson fouled out, but not before racking up a double-double in just 27 minutes (11 points, 12 rebounds). Taylor scored 22 points in that loss to the Wildcats, driving to the basket with ease and getting to the line 17 times. The Jayhawks continue to get great contributions from their other starters. Junior G Elijah Johnson (10.1 PPG, 3.6 APG) has had a great tournament (13.4 PPG), scoring in double-figures in each game and connecting on 10-of-23 threes. Johnson had 13 points and a season-high 10 rebounds versus Ohio State, and he’ll need to hit the glass again facing the high-flying Wildcats. Seven-foot C Jeff Withey (9.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG) has also come on strong in the past three games with 9.0 PPG (10-of-16 FG), 7.0 RPG and a whopping 6.7 BPG. Still the Jayhawks have struggled offensively in the tourney, as they have scored 65 ppg or less in 4 of the games and have shot just 41.4% from the floor in the 5 games.It isn’t a fluke that Kansas’ NCAA Tournament opponents have had so much trouble putting the ball in the basket. The Jayhawks rank second in the nation in shooting defense (37.9% FG) thanks in part to 5.7 blocks per game (ninth in D-I). Louisville's defense was supposed to be the equalizer vs Kentucky, but the Cats shot a ridiculous 57.1% FG in Saturday’s 69-61 win over Louisville. Freshman C Anthony Davis (14.4 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 4.6 BPG) was nearly perfect, scoring 18 points (7-of-8 FG), with 14 boards and five blocks. Davis is now averaging 15.2 PPG, 11.6 RPG and 4.6 BPG in the NCAA Tournament, and he posted 14 points, six boards and seven blocks against Kansas in November. Fellow freshman F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG) scored just nine points in a foul-plagued 23 minutes on Saturday, but he was outstanding in the previous two contests with 21.5 PPG (56% FG, 14-of-14 FT) and 7.5 RPG. He was also a huge factor against the Jayhawks earlier this year, tallying 12 points, nine boards, four assists and three blocks. Kentucky’s backcourt is also excellent, as the team has surpassed 14 turnovers in a game just once in its past 23 contests, tallying 12 games of single-digit turnovers in that span. Freshman PG Marquis Teague (9.9 PPG, 4.8 APG) has 13.2 PPG and 5.2 APG in the tourney and has come a long way since his second career college game against Kansas (three assists, season-high-tying six turnovers). Sophomore SG Doron Lamb (13.5 PPG, 47% 3-pt FG) is the long-range marksman who has eight straight double-figure scoring games. Self is closing the curtain on his ninth season at KU, and he has an outstanding record of 269-52 with the Jayhawks -- 476-157 overall in his 19 years as a head coach. He led the team to the 2008 National Championship, which it won in overtime against a Memphis team that was coached, ironically enough, by current Kentucky head man John Calipari. Calipari is wrapping up his third year as Kentucky's head coach, and he owns a record of 101-14 at the school. As mentioned, this is the second straight year in which he has his team in the Final Four. Calipari has taken three different teams to the Final Four, but the 1996 appearance by Massachusetts and the 2008 appearance by Memphis were later vacated due to NCAA rules violations. Despite the controversy that has surrounded him at different times during his career, Calipari has an impressive record of 504-152. A win tonight would give Calipari his first national crown.
Free Pick: Ive been with Kentucky for much of this tourney and I won't stop now. They are the better team that is loaded with next-level talent throughout the lineup - even on the bench. The Cats have pretty much rolled through the tourney so far and even though they won by just 8 over Louisville in their last game, it was a game that wasn't as close as the final would indicate. The Cats were in total control for much of that game and even though the Cardinals made a run you never felt that Kentucky was gonna lose it. This team gets a ton of credit for their offense and it should as they have averaged 77.6 ppg on 49% shooting overall, including 84.2 ppg on 53.7% shooting in the tourney, but this defense also deserves some credit. The Cats have allowed 71.6 ppg on 41.6 % shooting in the tourney, but for the year this team has allowed 60.6 ppg on just 37.4% shooting, which is tops in the Nation. Tonight they take on a Kansas team that has played great defense in the tourney, allowing 59.2 ppg, but a team that has struggled on offense in the 5 games so far. For the year the Jayhawks have averaged 73.9 ppg on 47.5% shooting, but in the tourney they have put up just 66.4 ppg on 41.4 % shooting. I do not thinks that's going to get it done vs this Kentucky team that can score in bunches and they will tonight. I don't feel the Jayhawks will have enough defense or nearly enough offense to keep this one close. The Cats are focused and should have no problems tonight with an easy DD win here.
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