Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals deserve a lot of credit for making it to the Final Four without much of an offense, but the high-powered Kentucky Wildcats will prove to be too much for their swarming defense in the Final Four.
Kentucky beating Louisville has less to do with the quality of the Cardinals and more to do with the quality of the Wildcats. While the Cardinals weren't particularly impressive during the regular season, they have looked like an entirely different team in the NCAA tournament, beating Cinderella hopeful Davidson, underrated New Mexico, No. 1 seed Michigan State and high-scoring Florida.
But I'm convinced that the Wildcats are just too good for anyone this year. They have scoring, rebounding, interior defense, chemistry and determination—that's a difficult train to stop.
The Wildcats averaged 77.1 points and 39.2 rebounds this season, 20th and 15th in the nation, respectively. In the NCAA tournament, they've averaged 88.0 points, including an 102-point explosion against Indiana in the Sweet 16.
They have six players who can go off at any moment. Even point guard Marquis Teague, who averaged 10.0 points in the regular season, racked up 24 points against Iowa State in the Round of 32. They scored 102 points against Indiana, despite getting just nine points from leading scorer Anthony Davis.
Who will win on Saturday?
Against Baylor, the Wildcats simply outworked one of the few teams in the country that had the athleticism and frontcourt to make life difficult for them. They made the Bears look like a high school team on defense.
Louisville will be Kentucky's toughest opponent thus far in the tournament. The Cardinals have appeared to have an answer for everything defensively. When Florida started off red-hot in the Elite Eight, the Cardinals switched to a man-to-man defense in the second half and considerably slowed the Gators down.
But it really comes down to the fact that the Wildcats not only have the most talent in the country, they are also perhaps playing better as a team than anyone in the country. How do you stop that?
Rick Pitino's Cardinals have had a great run, but Kentucky will come away victorious and go on to win the national championship.
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