2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

NCAA Championship Game Time: What to Watch in Epic UConn vs. Kentucky Clash

Kentucky players celebrate on the court after their 74-73 victory over Wisconsin in an NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay
Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2014

After an arduous five months that featured the highest of highs and lowest of lows, the Connecticut Huskies and Kentucky Wildcats square off at AT&T Stadium for the right to be called college basketball's national champion. 

The Huskies and Wildcats both took a treacherous path to get here, knocking off a No. 1 and No. 2 seed, respectively, in the Final Four. Connecticut had to go through Iowa State and Michigan State before destroying Florida, while Kentucky dispatched Wichita State and Louisville. 

Both teams are operating at the height of their abilities, and that's all you can ask for in a game of this magnitude. Despite arriving at the same destination, there are stark differences in the way they play. 

Here's a look at how and when you can catch the game, as well as a few things to look for after the game tips off. 

Connecticut vs. Kentucky Information
DateStart TimeNetworkLive StreamPoint Spread
April 7, 20149:10 p.m. ETCBSMarch Madness LiveKentucky (-2)

NCAA.com, Vegas Insider

 

What to Watch For

Connecticut's Ability to Adjust

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 05: Shabazz Napier #13 of the Connecticut Huskies gestures during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal against the Florida Gators at AT&T Stadium on April 5, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

There are a lot of reasons the Huskies are playing for a championship on Monday, but the biggest is their ability to adapt to the style of game that the other team likes to play. 

"Credit UConn for taking advantage of an uglier style and seizing control of the game." @EyeOnCBB's halftime update: http://t.co/WvYlMEo6ju.

CBSSports.com (@CBSSports) April 5, 2014

That was never more apparent than in the Final Four victory over Florida, after the Gators held UConn to four points through the first 12 minutes. It looked like things were getting out of hand, until Kevin Ollie's group turned up the defensive pressure and started making a few shots. 

Scoring 63 points in a game isn't lighting up the scoreboard, but Connecticut's defense has been underrated all season and it showed against the Gators, who could muster just 37 points in the final 28 minutes and shot a paltry 38.8 percent from the floor. 

There's no style that Connecticut can't play, and that's what has put the school on the verge of its fourth national championship. 

 

The Free-Throw Battle

Frank Franklin II

The simplest way to beat a team is to make free throws. Connecticut has done it all tournament long, making 91 of its 105 attempts (87 percent) through the Final Four. The Huskies spent virtually the last two minutes of their game against Iowa State making foul shots to hang on at the end. 

On the other side, John Calipari teams are notorious for not being able to make free throws. It happened at Memphis against Kansas in the 2009 championship game, when the Tigers missed four of five attempts late in regulation to send the game to overtime. 

Kentucky isn't doing anything to alleviate those concerns this year. The Wildcats made just 14 of 21 free-throw attempts against Wisconsin in the Final Four and has made just 70.6 percent in the tournament. 

There is every reason to think this will be a close game because of how talented both teams are, and how well they shoot from beyond the arc, so that will put the onus on hitting shots from the charity stripe. 

In a game like this, Connecticut has the edge. 

 

3-Point Shooters

Charlie Neibergall

Kentucky's ascension to the top of college basketball in the NCAA tournament can be summed up in its newfound ability to hit three-point field goals. 

According to Ryan Feldman of ESPN Stats & Information, the Wildcats increased their three-point shooting by nearly 10 percentage points compared to the regular season (31.6 percent to 41.2 percent), and those shots account for more than 25 percent of their points in the tournament. 

That was before Kentucky's Final Four victory against Wisconsin. In that game, the young Wildcats only attempted five three-point field goals and made two of them. 

On the other side, Connecticut has been lights out from beyond the arc with the exception of its victory over Michigan State when the Huskies made just five of 22 attempts. 

If you take away that one game, UConn is shooting 45 percent from three-point range (34-for-75). 

The great equalizer in college basketball is the three-point shot, and both these teams can shoot the lights out, so if one team falls behind early, don't expect it to last very long because of the ability to hit from deep. 

 

If you want to talk sports, hit me up on Twitter. 

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