Final Four 2012: Key Players in the Kentucky vs. Louisville Match

Sam DrakeCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2012

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 31:  Marquis Teague #25 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball while defended by Gorgui Dieng #10 of  the  Louisville Cardinals during the game at Rupp Arena on December 31, 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

When Kentucky and Louisville square-off in the Final Four in New Orleans, the talent on the court will be through the roof. Both of these teams have NBA-ready players, which makes for a compelling game.

While on paper it seems that Kentucky is the overwhelming favorite to advance to the Championship game, Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals cannot be discounted. They beat some excellent teams to make it this far in the Tournament. They beat Draymond Green and the Michigan State Spartans, New Mexico and the three-point shooting Florida Gators.

Meanwhile in the South Bracket, the Wildcats had taken care of a quality Indiana and Baylor squad to make it to the Final Four.

Both teams will leave everything they have on the floor this Saturday, creating an exciting game for fans everywhere to watch.

These players will be most important in order for their team to advance to the NCAA Championship game on Monday.

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Anthony Davis #23, Eloy Vargas #30 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrate their 82 to 70 win over the Baylor Bears during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

 No. 1: Anthony Davis: Kentucky

Where does John Calipari find these players?

After losing to Kemba Walker and the University of Connecticut in the last year’s Final Four, Calipari has reloaded and retooled his roster with High School All-Americans and potential one-and-done players. The best player that he has on the roster is the one that rocks the uni brow, Anthony Davis.

Davis is projected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft when he decides to enter. He is 6’10” and has an even bigger wing span which he uses to superb effect. He is averaging 10 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game. He has already set the record for most blocked shots in the SEC with 175. The previous record was 170, set by Jarvis Varnardo of Mississippi State.

Davis will need to use his tall, lanky and athletic frame to dominate the paint and protect the basket.

He will need to have a solid game if Kentucky wants to advance.

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 24:  Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals moves the ball in the first half while taking on the Florida Gators during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball West Regional Final at US Airways Center on March 24, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

No. 2: Peyton Siva: Louisville

Peyton Siva is the Cardinal’s 6’0” point guard out of Seattle, Washington.

While he might not be a Derrick Rose-type point guard, in that he scores a lot of points, he does dish out a lot of assists, to the tune of 5.6 per game on the year.

He provides the rhythm for Louisville's offense.

What makes him even more important and exciting to watch is his ability to get to the rim. He has explosive speed and an uncanny ability to throw defenders off balance. After getting by his man, Silva can find the open man on the wing, or he can finish himself.

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 of the Kentucky Wildcats clelebrates a three-pointer against the Baylor Bears in the first half during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in Atlanta
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

No. 3: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Kentucky

Kidd-Gilchrist may not be as tall or as capable a shot blocker as Davis, but he can still flat out play. He is at his best when he is attacking the rim and finishing on the break.

Louisville is going to try to force him to shoot jumpers.

Look for Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist to dominate the boards against the Cardinal’s big men.

No. 4: Russ Smith: Louisville

Last time Louisville and Kentucky played, Russ Smith scored a career-high 30 points coming off the bench.

In only 21 minutes per game this season, Smith has become the second best scorer on the team behind Kyle Kuric. One of the reasons that he does not play more than 21 minutes is the fact that he plays the same position as Siva.

Over the past three games, Smith scored 47 points and twice led the Cardinals in scoring.