Kentucky vs. Louisville: Defense Will Take Center Stage in Final Four Battle

Alex KayCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2012

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 31: Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball while defended by Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats during 69-62 Wildcats victory at Rupp Arena on December 31, 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals are going to collide, March 31, in New Orleans for the first Battle of the Bluegrass to take place in the Final Four in history.

Everyone should be focused on the defense played in this game. It’s going to be tenacious as both sides dislike each other for numerous reasons.

The history is between the programs is definitely one of them.

Kentucky and Louisville match up every single year in the regular season (and have regularly since 1983) and have met four times in the NCAA Tournament since 1951.  However, no game has carried more weight or meant more in the history of this rivalry, which began back in 1913, than the upcoming Final Four showdown.

These programs have both made an effort to play their best when defending and recruited players to do exactly that.

Kentucky boasts Anthony Davis—a shot-blocking fiend, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist—perhaps the best perimeter defender in the nation and a host of players who aren’t afraid to give it their all when it comes to locking down the opposition.

Louisville employs 6’11” Gorgui Dieng—a sophomore swatter, and a host of speedy guards that are able to run a full-court press and play zone for 40 minutes to force turnovers and bad shots.

The coaches have also been here before, with the Cardinals’ Rick Pitino making his sixth Final Four appearance and Wildcats’ John Calipari heading to his fourth (although two were later vacated).

They both know that defense will be the key to getting into the championship game and should use the extended break leading up to the game to get their boys prepared to play it their best.

Expect the Battle for the Bluegrass to be a bloodbath and one of the most exciting games we have seen in a long time this late in the tournament.