2014 NCAA Men's National Championship Game

NCAA Tournament 2014: Stat Predictions for Championship Game's Top Stars

Kentucky head coach John Calipari cheers on players including forward Julius Randle (30) during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Wisconsin Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay
Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIApril 7, 2014

We're down to just two teams in the 2014 NCAA tournament, and the star power in the matchup between Kentucky and UConn will surely make the battle a compelling one.

It'll be those stars that dictate the outcome of the action. Sure, there will be role players that make their presences felt, but in the end, they won't be the ones who impact the end result. The names you've been hearing all tournament—Shabazz Napier, Julius Randle and others—will be the ones you'll be left praising or criticizing.

On college basketball's biggest stage, expect there to be both historic and disappointing performances. After all, not everybody can handle the pressure.

Here's how I think some of the stat lines will look at the close of the game.

 

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Shabazz Napier

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 05: Shabazz Napier #13 of the Connecticut Huskies brings the ball up the floor against the Florida Gators during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at AT&T Stadium on April 5, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Get
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Predictions: Shabazz Napier
PointsShootingAssistsRebounds
175-of-11114

Arguably the top player in the NCAA tournament after a string of very impressive performances, Shabazz Napier will need to continue to take over for the Huskies. UConn's star point guard is drawing praise from all around the country, including from former UConn star Kemba Walker:

Kentucky is fast and plays an athletic game, but that shouldn't bother Napier. Napier plays a fast-paced game himself. He's capable of scoring in transition, off the dribble and driving to the basket. He's very good in catch-and-shoot situations as well.

What sets Napier apart from other scorers is that he isn't simply a one-dimensional guard. Napier can also find teammates with regularity. He finds lanes to pass through that others cannot see, and this is a huge reason why UConn has advanced this far.

Look for him to steal the show with his scoring and passing ability.

 

Julius Randle

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 30:  head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates with Julius Randle #30 after defeating the Michigan Wolverines 75 to 72 in the midwest regional final of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stad
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Predictions: Julius Randle
PointsShootingReboundsBlocks
187-of-12122

There's a reason Julius Randle is one of the top NBA prospects leading up to the draft.

David Ubben of Fox Sports highlights Randle's tournament numbers: "Randle has averaged 15.7 points and 12 rebounds a game during the tournament run, becoming the first freshman to record double-doubles in his first four tournament games since 1978."

Randle is an absolute beast down low. He is extraordinarily athletic and can make plays above the rim with regularity. It's difficult for opposing big men to keep up with him down low because of his motor and quickness. This will make him a tough matchup for UConn's bigs.

Randle will also be motivated to perform well in front of his friends and family. He tweeted this two years ago:

It will be interesting to see if Randle continues his impressive run.

 

DeAndre Daniels

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 05: DeAndre Daniels #2 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts after hitting a shot against the Florida Gators during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at AT&T Stadium on April 5, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Gett
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Predictions: DeAndre Daniels
PointsShootingAssistsRebounds
144-of-936

DeAndre Daniels might not be on the same tier as Napier or Randle, but he will be crucial to the offensive attack of the Huskies. Daniels led the team in scoring against Florida with 20 points and also posted 10 rebounds.

Finding consistency has been an issue for Daniels all season, as chronicled by John Allen of NJ.com

The junior forward was the kind of player who could score 23 points against Boston College and then get only seven points against Indiana the next night, as he did in November, or string together a week like this in late January: 23 points and 11 rebounds vs. Memphis, 3 and 4 vs. Louisville and then 31 and 12 against Temple.

If Daniels can step up against Kentucky, then UConn will have the second scorer it so desperately needs. Napier can't do it all on his own, even though it looks as if he wants people to think that.

Daniels doesn't need a double-double, but an efficient night would be helpful. The Huskies will benefit from having a secondary option after Napier.

 

Other Predictions

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 05: Alex Poythress #22 celebrates with James Young #1 and Julius Randle #30 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on April 5, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Pho
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

There is a whole lot of talent in this game. Here are some other stars to watch out for:

Other Stat Predictions
PlayerStat Line
Aaron Harrison8 PTS, 2-of-7 FG, 3 A
Andrew Harrison15 PTS, 3-of-6 3P, 4 A
Niels Giffey13 PTS, 4-of-9 FG, 2 A, 4 REB

Disagree with the predictions? Feel free to let me hear it in the comments down below.

 

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