NCAA Final: Kentucky Wildcats Will Meet The UConn HuskiesBy: Tobias Roth - April 6, 2014
In an incredibly unlikely scenario in the NCAA Final, Kentucky will match up with Connecticut, in a game between the SEC and the AAC conferences. Neither team was predicted to go far, yet they will both be playing for the national championship.
In order to reach the NCAA Final UConn defeated Florida for the second time this season, and Kentucky beat Wisconsin, which was a bit of an upset for both teams. Kentucky has risen above the competition, and has arguably upset their opponents in every game of the tournament, including a game against Michigan in order to make the final four, receiving a 3-pointer at the last second for the victory.
Florida and Michigan State were two of the top teams heading into the tournament, along with Louisville heading into the tournament, and Michigan State and Louisville were taken out by UConn, while Kentucky took down their Louisville rivals.
One thing that also makes this match-up unlikely, and incredibly rare, is the fact that neither Kentucky or UConn played in the NCAA tournament last year. UConn was ineligible to play due to academic issues, and Kentucky played in the NIT.
The last time that two teams that did not play the year before, and still made the final, was in 1966, a game that Kentucky played in against Texas Western. This year, Kentucky has a crop of freshman that continue to improve together, and they become only the first all-freshman starting lineup in an NCAA title game since Michigan’s Fab Five in 1992.
They are led by twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, along with Julius Randle, who were all Mcdonald’s All-Americans when they were recruited by coach John Calipari. Kentucky was the No.1 team in the preseason, but struggled throughout the season, and were not in the top 25 heading into the NCAA tournament.
Some people have said that it is destiny for the five freshman of Kentucky to have made it this far, and have also won their last three games from late 3-pointers from Aaron Harrison. However, the young freshman spoke about the issue and said “We all just fight, we don’t let the games go, and we know no matter what that we have a chance to win so we always try to keep fighting.”
Connecticut will be returning to the NCAA Final for the second time in four years, after having won the championship in 2011 behind their star Kemba Walker. Three seniors remain on the team from that year, and as Shabazz Napier continues to show similarities to Walker, they have found a way to keep winning.
This NCAA Final marks the highest seed total to play in the title game since 1979 when the committee started assigning numbers to the teams. The previous high also included UConn, in the 2011 title game against 8th-seeded Butler. It’s also the fourth time an eighth seed has made the championship game, and the first trip for a seventh seed.