The final game is set for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, as both the University of Kentucky Wildcats and the University of Connecticut Huskies have survived their respective Final Four matchups and will move on to play for the National Championship on Monday April 7th on CBS.
In a game that will feature one of the most unlikely meetings of any NCAA men’s basketball championship, a number 7 seed will take on a number 8 seed to determine who will be crowned college basketball’s top team.
The regular season for the Kentucky Wildcats wasn’t everything they hoped it would be. A team with great basketball tradition, the Kentucky team of this season was often criticized for under-achieving. The talent was there, but the team seemed to be out of sync, and coach John Calipari seemed unable to right the ship. Now the Wildcats have a chance to become the first number 8 seed to win a NCAA men’s basketball championship since Villanova did it back in 1985 after taking out Wisconsin in the Final Four.
UConn walked into the Final Four under second year head coach Kevin Ollie as a number 7 seed, and stunned the number 1 seeded Florida Gators, who had been on a 30-game win streak which began after losing to the Huskies back on December 2. Book-ending the Florida win streak has put UConn into the National Championship game, and putting down the only remaining number 1 seed in the tournament has to do wonders for the Huskies’ confidence going into Monday’s game.
Kentucky survived against No. 2 Wisconsin in the Final Four thanks in part to freshman Aaron Harrison, who nailed a game winning three pointer with seconds left on the clock to put the Wildcat into the men’s basketball championship game. Harrison is now 3-for-3 on game-tying or go-ahead three-point shots for Kentucky in the final minutes of games in the NCAA tournament, according to USA Today. The final score in the Kentucky victory was 74-73.
“You can never really get used to something like that,” Aaron said in Kentucky’s locker room.
The Huskies’ Final Four victory was a little more decisive. UConn overcame a stifling Gators defense, which was ranked third in the nation, early in the game. Fox News reports that UConn shot 55.8 percent (24 of 43) from the field against a Florida team that had only allowed opponents to shoot 39.9 percent during the season. The Gators had also held their opponents to an average 57.6 points per game. UConn’s ability to shoot the basketball well put them past the Gator’s superb defense, and the Huskies walked into the National Championship game with a 63-53 victory over one of the early tournament favorites.
Now both of these unlikely teams will clash on Monday to determine College basketball’s National Champion. Neither UConn nor Kentucky were considered favorites to win the tournament, but along the way both teams have proven that they belonged in the Final Four, and now in the championship game.