At the beginning of the 2014 NCAA tournament, if you predicted a No. 7 seed versus a No. 8 seed in the championship game, people may have looked at you like you were nuts.
Well, if that truly was your prediction, you are now getting the last laugh.
The No. 7 Connecticut Huskies are set to take on the No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats in what is sure to be an action-packed, star-studded contest.
Shabazz Napier leads the way for Connecticut, while Julius Randle and Co. will look to keep Kentucky's hot streak alive.
This is sure to be a thrilling conclusion to a tournament that has been so very full of twists and turns along the way.
Let's break down the latest odds for this highly anticipated contest, followed by predicting its ultimate outcome.
Updated Game Odds
Kentucky opened as slight favorites (-2), and the line has shifted further in the team's favor since then. The game's total points opened at 133 and has moved slightly as well.
|No. 7 Connecticut vs. No. 8 Kentucky||Kentucky -2.5||134.5|
|Team 1||Team 2||Pick|
|No. 7 Connecticut||No. 8 Kentucky||Kentucky|
Sean O'Donnell's Prediction
What a ride it's been for both of these teams.
Connecticut fended off a surging St. Joseph's team in Round 2, trounced No. 2 Villanova in Round 3, squeezed past Iowa State in the Sweet 16, outdueled Michigan State in the Elite Eight and upset No. 1 Florida in the Final Four.
Kentucky got past Kansas State in Round 2, defeated No. 1 Wichita State in Round 3, surged past Louisville in the Sweet 16, sent Michigan packing in the Elite Eight and delivered a stunner against Wisconsin in the Final Four.
It's safe to say that both of these teams have a great deal of momentum going for them right now.
Connecticut has the upper hand on the defensive side of the court. Napier and Ryan Boatright were fantastic against Scottie Wilbekin in the Final Four. They'll certainly continue to make things difficult for Kentucky's shooters in the championship game.
Scottie Wilbekin was 0-for-5 on FG when guarded by Ryan Boatright and turned the ball over on 3 of 4 plays when guarded by Shabazz Napier.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 6, 2014
The Wildcats have the edge on the boards. Randle and Co. have dominated the interior throughout the tournament, recording defensive rebounds leading to fast breaks and offensive rebounds giving the team second-chance attempts.
Julius Randle has 24 double-doubles this season. Only freshman ever with more is Michael Beasley (28 in 2007-08).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 4, 2014
Both teams are surging on offense right now. While Kentucky relies mainly on scoring in the paint, Connecticut is chock-full of athletes who have great jumpers.
These teams are very evenly matched, and it could come down to which squad has the ball last.
If a last-second shot is needed to win the game, it's tough to not put money on Aaron Harrison of Kentucky. He's been so clutch from downtown of late, and should he get the opportunity to do it again versus Connecticut, odds are, he'll come through again.
Kentucky 69, Connecticut 67