Kentucky Wildcats vs. UConn Huskies
The Final Four is upon us and the Kentucky Wildcats are 2-point favorites over the UConn Huskies.Â The over/under total for the game is set at 140. The Connecticut Huskies and Kentucky Wildcats meet for the second time this season. Kentucky lost badly to Connecticut, 84-67 in the November Maui Invitational final. Kemba Walker had 29 points for then-unranked Connecticut and big man Alex Oriakhi added 18 points and 11 rebounds, out-shooting eighth-ranked Kentucky 58-37 percent.
Kentucky is 29-8 overall and 17-15 against the spread.Â They are looking for its eighth national championship, the first since 1998. Coach John Calipari has never won a national title, losing the 2008 final to Kansas in OT while with Memphis. He also made the Final Four with UMass in 1996.Â Calipari led Kentucky to the Elite Eight last year and then saw five guys leave as NBA first-round picks including stars John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson. That would have decimated other programs, but Calipari added three dynamic freshmen in Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb. However, its been the recent play of upperclassmen Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins and Josh Harrellson thats spurred them to the Final Four. Harrellson had 17 points and Liggins 15 in the 62-60 Sweet Sixteen upset over top-seed Ohio State as 5-point underdogs. Liggins also hit a key three-pointer with 37 seconds left in Kentuckys 76-69 Elite Eight win over No. 2 seed North Carolina as 1-point favorites.Â Knight led with 22 points as his streaky play continues, but all five starters were in the double-digits.
The UConn Huskies are 30-9 overall and 21-12 against the spread.Â They are on a nine-game winning streak that began with winning the Big East Tournament as a ninth seed. Coach Jim Calhoun is looking for his third national title, with the others coming in 1999 and 2004. Kemba Walker is a first team All-American with averages of 23.9 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game and 4.5 assists per game. Hes upped his scoring to 26.8 points per game during March Madness. Walker scored just 20 points against Arizona in the Elite Eight. He was 1-of-7 from three-point land and 7-of-17 overall. The Huskies would have likely lost that game earlier this year with Walkers numbers, but they still won 65-63, although failing to cover the 3-points. Freshman Jeremy Lamb excelled with 19 points against Arizona, including some huge baskets down the stretch. He has a nice mid-range game and hes really stepped up his play during this tournament.
The big question for Saturday is whether Walker can be contained.Â I believe that this is his tournament and will come through again on Saturday.Â I will take the 2-points as I believe UConn will advance to play in the finals on Monday evening.Â There is no slowing down Kemba Walker now.
UConn Huskies +2 Kentucky Wildcats