NCAA Championship Game 2014: Odds, Picks and Predictions for UConn vs. Kentucky

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NCAA Championship Game 2014: Odds, Picks and Predictions for UConn vs. Kentucky
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Just like everybody predicted, it's Connecticut and Kentucky in the 2014 national championship.

According to ESPN Stats and Info, this is the highest combination of seeds ever in the final of the NCAA tournament:

Before the season, this matchup may not have seemed too crazy. Coming into the tournament, though, neither team was looking much like a Final Four contender, much less a title contender. The Wildcats' stars hadn't come together, while the Huskies offense looked like it wasn't up to snuff.

The Big Dance is nothing if not unpredictable, so of course both teams would iron out their problems at exactly the right time.

Given how the tournament has unfolded so far, the national title game should be one for the ages.

 

When: Monday, April 7, at 9:10 p.m. ET

Where: AT&T Stadium, Dallas

Watch: CBS

Live Stream: March Madness Live

Odds: Kentucky (-2), courtesy of VegasInsider.com

 

National Championship: Kentucky

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

UConn looks like a team of destiny. The combination of Napier and Daniels is irresistible at the moment. The Huskies' win over Florida is evidence of what happens when you count them out. The Gators had one of the best defenses in the country, but it came completely undone on Saturday.

What's to say that Kentucky isn't a team of destiny? The Wildcats have now won four games in a row by five points or less, which is the first time a team has done so in tournament history:

Kentucky was the preseason No. 1 team in the country for a reason. It's loaded with a ton of talent, and that talent is clicking.

Willie Cauley-Stein's absence shouldn't play a huge role, as long as Alex Poythress is healthy. If the Wildcats can limit Napier's cuts to the basket, they'll prevail on Monday.

UConn might also have a hard time handling Julius Randle inside. The freshman phenom went for 16 points and five rebounds against Wisconsin.

Plus, if the Wildcats are within three points at the end of the game, then that's money time for Aaron Harrison:

 

Most Outstanding Player: Aaron Harrison

Charlie Neibergall

One of three players will almost certainly win this award. If UConn wins, then Napier and Daniels will take it home. If Kentucky wins, then Harrison will cap off what's been a crazy NCAA tournament.

In the Wildcats' five tourney games, Harrison is averaging 14.4 points per game. Make no mistake, though, no player has been more important to Kentucky's success than Harrison.

Against Louisville, the freshman guard hit a three-pointer to give the Wildcats a 70-68 lead with under a minute left. Kentucky wouldn't relinquish the lead.

Against Michigan, Harrison hit a game-winning three-pointer with 2.3 seconds left.

Against Wisconsin, he hit a game-winning three-pointer with 5.7 seconds left.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

The winners in the Elite Eight and Final Four were almost exactly like one another, per Kyle Porter of CBSSports.com:

Head coach John Calipari called Harrison an "assassin" after the Wisconsin win, per Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal:

Harrison doesn't need to score a ton of points on Monday to prove his value for Kentucky. Without him, the Wildcats likely wouldn't have made the Final Four, let alone the national championship.

When UK needs a key shot down the stretch against UConn, you know the ball will be in the hands of Harrison. He's answered the call each time so far, so why would the title game be any different?

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