Before we get to tonight’s highly anticipated championship game between UConn and Kentucky, I wanted to extend a quick thank you to all our wonderful readers who have followed along this college basketball season. It will go down as a memorable season for sure, as much for its unpredictability as it will for whomever cuts down the nets tonight. We have the highest combined seed total in NCAA Tourney history as favorite after favorite kept getting cut down. Wichita State gone in the Round of 32. Louisville in the Sweet 16. Arizona and Michigan State in the Elite Eight, and Florida on Saturday night. If you have a dog in the fight tonight, you are in for a nice payday (and probably made a homer pick before the tourney started – congrats for your faith in your squad!)
Personally, I finished up the year 26 games over .500 for my fourth straight winning season on the Sportsgeek.com. Like any handicapper, I’d love to have won a few more (and of course, had I won a few more, I’d have wanted to win a few more than that, etc.), but I’m not going to complain about a winning season in a college hoops year as topsy-turvy as 2013-2014.
So, again, thanks for following along – it’s greatly appreciated. Now let’s wrap up the year with one last winner…
NCAA Championship Game Pick:
UConn Huskies vs. Kentucky Wildcats -3 (Total: 135)
When you get to this point, to call a team “hot” feels a little trite and redundant. Obviously, if they are playing on the final Monday, you are on a five game winning streak. But there is something a little “extra hot” about the manner in which both of these teams have advanced.
Kentucky has cut arguably the most difficult path to the Final in NCAA history. They knocked off an unbeaten #1 seeded Wichita State to advance to the Sweet 16. There, they knocked off a ridiculously under seeded #4 Louisville, then followed it up with a win over #2 seeded Big Ten Champion Michigan, and knocked off another #2 seed, Wisconsin, in the Final Four. It is the lowest combined seed total of any team to advance to the Final.
And yet, I’d give the “momentum” edge to UConn. Not only have they knocked off the two Vegas favorites to win the National Championship in succession, they’ve dominated them. They completely undressed Michigan State and Florida to the point where it was impossible to call the game an “
upset” if you watched both teams play; the better team simply WON the game. And that team was UConn. The backcourt of Napier and Boatright has been fantastic, but it is the emergence of DeAndre Daniels that has been the revelation for the Huskies.
UConn is also doing it with defense. They made two of the better backcourts in the country look completely lost. And as good as the Harrison twins have been in the tourney, I’d give both Michigan State and Florida the checkmark if ranking backcourts.
SO will UConn win it tonight?? Both teams have that “team of destiny” feel, but I think UConn is playing better basketball. Kentucky is athletic and has been fortunate to escape on several occasions. Can the really bank on another contested Harrison three-pointer to bail them out? The key for UConn is to keep Kentucky off the glass. The pounded the offensive boards and it was enough to get past Michigan and Wisconsin, even though both teams played cleaner offensive games.
I think UConn will limit them just enough to win a tight thriller. In the closing moments, I’ll take Shabazz over the promise of youth…