UConn vs. Kentucky: Which Team Has Advantage in 2014 Championship Game?

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UConn vs. Kentucky: Which Team Has Advantage in 2014 Championship Game?
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It all comes down to this.

Only two teams remain and are set to face off on Monday for the coveted title of national champion.

The 2014 NCAA tournament has been highly unpredictable, and it's only fitting that No. 7 Connecticut will be taking on No. 8 Kentucky in the final.

Both of these teams had long, arduous journeys to get to this point. Each has plenty of strengths but several weaknesses as well.

Let's break down how the Huskies and the Wildcats stack up against each other to determine which has the advantage heading into the championship game.

 

Scoring Ability

Throughout the tournament, the Wildcats have owned one of the most prolific, versatile offenses in the nation. The depth of this team continues to shine, with its ability to drive into the paint with aggressiveness and dish out to the perimeter to hit from long range.

The depth of the big men on this team is impressive. Led by Julius Randle, they flourish on both ends of the court, out-rebounding opponents game after game. Aaron Harrison has become Mr. Clutch by bucketing game-winning threes in each of his last two games.

For Connecticut, what more can be said about Shabazz Napier? He's become one of the biggest threats in the nation due to his ability to score from anywhere. The Huskies have been much more aggressive in the paint recently and out-rebounded the Gators on Saturday 28-27.

DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright were revelations for this team in its Final Four contest. They combined for 33 points and helped the team shoot 55.8 percent from the field against one of the best defenses in the country.

If Connecticut can come out firing in that same way against Kentucky, they will have the upper hand in this category.

Advantage: Connecticut

 

Rebounds

Throughout the regular season, the Huskies weren't exactly stellar in this department, ranking 146th in the nation. That's changed in a big way recently, as they have become more aggressive of late.

Daniels nabbed 10 boards against Florida, while Boatright recorded six. Unfortunately, the rest of the team's big men were rather nonexistent in the paint.

Kentucky, on the other hand, thrives in the paint. The Wildcats ranked fifth in the nation during the season and continued their prowess in the 2014 NCAA tournament.

With Randle, Dakari Johnson, Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee down low, this team is almost impossible to defeat in this department.

Advantage: Kentucky

 

Defense

This is a close one. Kentucky has plenty of big men capable of making things very difficult to score down low. However, Wisconsin found some open looks against the Wildcats during the Final Four and finished shooting 46 percent from the field.

Connecticut made things very tough for the Gators on Saturday. Florida had difficulty driving inside and was forced to settle for many contested jumpers. This led the team to shoot just 38.8 percent from the floor.

The Huskies are quick and can fly to the ball to ensure opposing teams have limited uncontested looks. The Gators had difficulty distributing the ball offensively against this team and only recorded three assists in the game.

Connecticut looks to be the more well-rounded defensive squad here. 

Advantage: Connecticut

 

Ball Control

The Huskies do a great job distributing the ball around on the offensive end of the court. They rely on quick passes to find open looks at the basket. This backfires sometimes for Connecticut, as a high level of ball movement leads to increased turnovers—they had 13 against Florida.

Kentucky uses quick transitions and aggressiveness to drive inside quickly without allowing a defense to get set. Despite a limited amount of assists due to this style of play, turnovers are severely limited. During the team's Final Four matchup against Wisconsin, it turned the ball over just four times.

Advantage: Kentucky

 

Tiebreaker

That brings us to a count of two advantages for each team so far. Just as the championship cannot end in a tie, neither can this.

Consistency is a major factor this late in the tournament. Having players who contribute effectively each game goes a long way here.

Connecticut showed its ability to get this done against Florida, as Daniels and Boatright proved to be great complements to Napier. Unfortunately, these players don't show up in quite so big of a way during each and every contest.

Kentucky's starters have each contributed in the same manner throughout the tournament. There's not one player who puts up gaudy numbers while the rest take a supporting role. This depth and consistency gives the Wildcats the upper hand entering the final. 

Advantage: Kentucky

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