March Madness 2014: Updated Bracket, Odds, Bold Predictions for Title Game

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March Madness 2014: Updated Bracket, Odds, Bold Predictions for Title Game
David J. Phillip

And then there were two.

The 2014 NCAA tournament has narrowed down to the final two teams—Kentucky and UConn. March Madness has lived up to its name this year, as this installment of the tournament has been one of the hardest ones to predict.

Top teams have dropped like flies as teams like Kentucky and UConn continue to defy the odds and advance. With this being the case, it's worth making some bold predictions for the title game.

Given the craziness of the tournament thus far, I might actually be right with a few. 

 

All Your Bracket Essentials

Bleacher Report

 

National Championship Information

Who: No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 7 UConn

When: Monday, 9:30 p.m. ET

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

TV: CBS

Live Stream: NCAA.com

Odds (courtesy of VegasInsider.com): Kentucky (-2.5), Over/Under (134.5)

 

Bold Predictions

Shabazz Napier Records a Double-Double

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Shabazz Napier has yet to record a double-double in this NCAA tournament, but he came close back on March 20 against St. Joseph's. In that game, Napier dropped 24 points and pulled down eight rebounds. He also threw in six assists for good measure.

As UConn's court general and most talented player, Napier will obviously be relied upon heavily to make plays against Kentucky. He'll need to score and set up his teammates to score—something at which he is very good.

The Wildcats will give Napier a variety of looks defensively in an effort to make him uncomfortable, and I think that will lead to him looking to his teammates for more support than usual. Napier is a skilled passer with good court vision, so I think he'll make the smart plays to set up open shooters.

Kentucky will challenge Napier, so his points total might end up somewhere around 15. Because he's going to take what the defense gives him, I think he'll supplement those 15 points with 10 or 11 assists.

Napier knows he'll at least be able to rely on DeAndre Daniels, via John Allen of NJ.com"We know for a fact that he's going to come in and take care (of business), he's been doing it the whole tournament," Napier said.

I like Napier's chances at a complete stat line against Kentucky.

 

The Harrison Twins Combine for 35 Points

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Andrew and Aaron Harrison are certainly capable of putting up 35 points. They did so early on in the tournament against Wichita State (39 points) but have yet to do it since.

The Harrison twins were relatively quiet against Wisconsin, scoring just 17 points. Of course, three of those 17 came on the game-winner from Aaron.

Kentucky is obviously capable of winning when the twins aren't firing on all cylinders. The Wildcats just did so against Wisconsin. But having both shooters scoring at a high volume adds even more firepower to an already potent team.

Napier, Niels Giffey and Ryan Boatright will all see time defending the Harrisons. Napier can be a pesky defender, so he may give the two issues. Giffey and Boatright are just so-so defenders, however.

Given the Harrisons' propensity to step up in big spots, I like their chances to go off for at least 35 combined against the Huskies.

 

Kentucky Wins in the Waning Seconds Again

Prior to Kentucky's bout with Wisconsin, Rob Dauster of NBC Sports brought us some interesting information: 

The Harrison twins and James Young combined to shoot right around 31% from beyond the arc during the regular season. In the NCAA tournament, they are hitting 44.9% from deep (22-49). The game-winning shots against Louisville, Wichita State and Michigan were all threes from either Aaron Harrison or James Young.

Now you can add another game-winner from Aaron Harrison to the list. This is what he did against Wisconsin to send his team to the title game:

Kentucky appears to be the team of destiny at this point. The Wildcats have hit clutch shot after clutch shot in this tournament, and there's no reason to believe that it'll stop now. Whether it's a shot to gain the lead or a shot to put the team farther ahead, somebody will step up and put the game away.

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