The matchup in the national championship has been set, and it's an improbable one.
The Connecticut Huskies just won't go away, and the Kentucky Wildcats just keep getting better.
Led by Shabazz Napier, UConn has repeatedly defeated the odds. On Saturday, the Huskies knocked off the No. 1 overall seed, the Florida Gators, 63-53.
Napier has been the star all season, but junior DeAndre Daniels stepped up in a major way against Florida. He had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the game.
UCONN IS GOING TO PLAY FOR THE NATIONAL TITLE! DeAndre Daniels finishes with 20 Pts, 10 Reb to lead the Huskies. pic.twitter.com/A2B5DoyiZf— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 6, 2014
The win ended the Gators' 30-game win streak. It was the second time UConn beat Florida this season. To win the national championship, the upstart Huskies will have to pull out one more win.
Waiting for them in the championship will be the equally surprising Kentucky Wildcats. The No. 8-seeded Wildcats pulled off another thrilling victory in knocking off the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night.
Lately, Kentucky has become a master of late-game heroics. It's clear that Aaron Harrison has an overactive clutch gene.
After knocking down a game-winning three-pointer to lift the Wildcats to the Final Four, Harrison drained another one from nearly the same spot to beat Wisconsin on Saturday.
NBA Legion's tweet captures Harrison's coincidental brilliance:
Former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun and Kentucky head man John Calipari have crossed paths before in the tournament. After Kentucky clinched its spot in the final game, the two old foes crossed paths again. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports captured this quote:
Calipari ran into Jim Calhoun in the hallway. "Here we go again," Cal said as they shook hands. "Here we go."— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) April 6, 2014
Usually, when there is a Cinderella story in the national championship, there's only one team wearing the slipper. For this game, we'll have a pair of shoes for two surprising squads.
Are fans ready for a national championship that not only doesn't include a No. 1 seed, but is also without a team ranked in the top 10 of the last AP Top 25 poll. UConn is a seventh seed and Kentucky is trying to become the second No. 8 seed to win a national championship.
This is a must-see title game. We'll take for granted you want the information needed to watch the culmination of a spectacular—and unpredictable—college basketball season.
When: Monday, April 7, at 9 p.m. ET
Live Stream: March Madness Live
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Why Kentucky Will Win It All
At this point, it's hard to bet against either of these teams. But one of them has to lose.
Who wins the national championship?
The Wildcats' talent has finally aligned with their chemistry. Their size and athleticism are clearly a factor in this matchup.
UConn doesn't have any frontcourt player capable of slowing down power forward Julius Randle in the paint. Randle, center Dakari Johnson and forward Alex Poythress led a Wildcats team that out-rebounded Wisconsin 32-27.
On the perimeter, things won't be any easier for UConn.
Napier and Ryan Boatright will have issues creating offense against the Harrison twins' size.
At 6'6", the twins will give UConn's diminutive backcourt fits in the title game. Look for a poor shooting performance from Napier and Boatright to put pressure on Daniels and others to score.
The Huskies don't have the interior presence to create the opportunity for UConn's perimeter game.
Daniels' biggest issue is his slight frame. He'll find it difficult to have the same impact on Monday that he had against Florida.
Draft Express' Jonathan Givony doubts the same game plan from Saturday will work against Kentucky:
UConn won today by going small, with Deandre Daniels playing center. That's certainly not going to work against Kentucky, will it?— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) April 6, 2014
UConn has had a great tournament run, but Kentucky's will end with a title coronation.
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