March Madness has officially rolled over into April.
Two longshot teams in No. 7 UConn and No. 8 Kentucky downed top seeds en route to the national championship game. Now both the Huskies and Wildcats will duel it out for the top prize in college basketball when they tip off Monday night at 9:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
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After both No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Wisconsin fell by the wayside, both the Badgers and Wildcats enter the championship game after knocking off a No. 1 team and two other top-four seeds.
Before the tournament gets underway, here's a look at the schedule and odds for the NCAA championship.
National Championship Information
Who: No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 7 UConn
When: Monday, 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Live Stream: NCAA.com
Odds (courtesy of VegasInsider.com): Kentucky (-2.5), Over/Under (134.5)
Breakdown of National Championship
While UConn and Kentucky come in as surprise teams to make the final game, neither is new to the big stage. Both programs have been historically great, but have also enjoyed recent success. The Huskies won a national championship in 2011 and the Wildcats followed that up with a 2012 title.
If UConn pulls off the upset, they will be the first No. 7 seed to win a national championship. As for Kentucky, it would join Villanova as the only No. 8 seed to emerge victorious, as Darren Rovell of ESPN notes:
UConn trying to become only the 2nd champ seeded 7th or higher to win it all. Villanova was a #8 seed in 1985— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 5, 2014
Kevin Ollie is just a second-year coach, but reached the ultimate stage in college basketball in just his first postseason tournament at the helm. While Ollie is not the first to achieve this accomplishment, the odds appear to be stacked against him.
Jason Horowitz of Westwood One Sports points out that only one other first-time coach has come out on top in the final game of the season:
As for John Calipari, the 55-year-old coach comes in at 1-1 in national championship games, with the one loss from Memphis in 2008—which has since been vacated.
After missing out on the tournament last season and getting bounced in the first round of the NIT, Calipari has led the Wildcats to another spectacular run. Interestingly enough, the last time Kentucky lost in the NCAA tournament came 11 games ago in 2011, via ESPN Stats & Info:
Kentucky has won 11 straight NCAA Tournament games... Its last loss? UConn in the 2011 Final Four.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 6, 2014
Apart from the head coaches, both programs also feature star players with huge potential in the matchup.
Kentucky always replenishes its lineup each season, but with seemingly more star power than the year before. This class was no exception, as players like Julius Randle and Aaron Harrison—two of the catalysts for the Wildcats offense in the tournament—are freshmen.
On the UConn side, Shabazz Napier has been the equivalent of Kemba Walker from the 2011 tournament, leading the Huskies to a monumental run.
But in the Final Four, it was another star down low in forward DeAndre Daniels who led the Huskies. The junior finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds against Florida, and talked about what inspired his performance during the postgame broadcast on TBS:
I just wanted to step up big time for my team. I spoke to [former UConn coach] Jim Calhoun yesterday and he said, "Man, nobody's talking about you." I said, "Don't worry, everybody's going to be talking about me after Saturday." I told him I'm going to go out there and play hard and give it my all.
... We wanted to come out here and prove everybody wrong because nobody gave us a shot to win this game.
Following two memorable Final Four performances from both teams in the Final Four, the same can be expected when they match up with the national championship on the line.
With both programs enjoying a long history of excellence, only one can bring home the crown after Tuesday night.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter.