Found April 02, 2012 on The Sports Headquarters:
TSHQ’s NCAA Title Game Preview

by Gus Elvin

We are down to the last college basketball game of the season as after 5 months of basketball we are down to just 2 teams and 1 game. Those 2 teams, Kansas and Kentucky are 2 of the most prestigious and historic college basketball programs and will take center stage Monday night in New Orleans. It has been another amazing college basketball season, filled with surprises, intrigue and drama and Monday night either Kentucky or Kansas will be left standing as the NCAA Champion. I have thoroughly enjoyed this college basketball season and it has been a privilege to follow and cover college basketball all season long. In the coming weeks I will be releasing early projections for next year, an NBA Draft preview, and much more so just because the games are over, don’t think that out coverage at TSHQ will stop, so stay tuned and I hope you all enjoy the game. Well here it is my final game preview of the season as #1 seed Kentucky takes on 2nd seeded Kansas.

*9:23pm #1 Kentucky vs. #2 Kansas(New Orleans, La)- In the NCAA final top seeded Kentucky looks to take that next step in their 3rd year under John Calipari, while Kansas looks for a storybook ending to a  season that started with a lot of skepticism.  The Wildcats’ who were the heavy favorite since the brackets were released on Selection Sunday, have run through the field so far and enter this game with an impressive 37-2 record. Kentucky success has been largely due to their young guns, as 6 of their 7 rotation players are either freshmen or sophomores led by Anthony Davis. Davis the #1 recruit, entering the season has been even better than advertised, as he leads the Wildcats in scoring (14.3ppg), rebounding (10rpg) and also leads the nation in blocks at 4.6bpg. Davis, who was named the Wooden Award winner over the weekend, has been the most influential player we have seen in the college game over the last few years as his length and skillset on both ends make him such a game changer. Davis makes the biggest impact on the defensive end where he not only blocks just under 5 shots a game, but also alters so many more and deters opponents from driving to the basket. Davis is joined in the frontcourt by 2 more future 1st round picks as Michael Kidd- Gilchrist (11.9ppg, 7.5rpg) and Terrence Jones (12.4ppg, 7.2rpg). These 2 alongside Davis give the Wildcats one of the strongest frontcourts in the country as the 3 combine to average 29 points, and are the major reason UK ranks 15th in the nation in rebounding. Kentucky is by no means dependent on their frontcourt though, as the Wildcats can stroke it from the perimeter led by Doron Lamb and Darius Miller.  UK as a team shoots an impressive 39 percent from 3-point range but Lamb(13.5ppg) shoots far better than that number connecting on 47 percent 3’s, while Miller shoots a very strong 38% from downtown. Basically, Kentucky lacks a glaring weakness as this team has a very strong frontcourt headlined by Davis and MKD but also can fill it up from 3-point range (39%). Kentucky is also a very unselfish team, as despite their youth this group always makes the extra pass and is willing to sacrifice individual stats for team success. This group knows how to win and with 1 more win they would become NCAA Champs and finally give Coach Cal that elusive 1st National title. The team that stands in their way is no slouch, or can hardly be called a true underdog as the Kansas Jayhawks have an illustrious college basketball history and are an impressive 32-6 on the season. That record is even more impressive when you consider what the “experts” said in the preseason, as Kansas was expected to fall off after losing 3 players to the NBA and their top 3 freshmen to eligibility concerns. Despite all that preseason adversity the Jayhawks have persevered and now improbably sit just 1 game away from being crowned National Champions. Bill Self who was named National Coach of the Year deserves a lot of credit for the job he has done with this Jayhawk team as he has guided this very shorthanded roster to a Big 12 regular season title. On the court the Jayhawks are led by their 2 stars Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. Robinson (17.9ppg, 11.8rpg) a National Player of the Year candidate, has been a force this season as a junior, after playing a secondary role the last 2 years behind the Morris twins. Robinson a terrific athlete will need to be big against UK for the Jayhawks to have a chance as in the 1st matchup between these 2 teams, he was held to 11 points and 12 rebounds, largely due to foul trouble. The other key cog for KU is Taylor, the senior point guard who has blossomed this season as both a scorer and facilitator. Taylor, who averages 17.3points and 4.8 assists, has really matured this season after a well-publicized 3 year struggle with Coach Bill Self. Taylor this season has not only pulled himself out of Bill Self’s doghouse but has emerged as one of the best guards in the entire nation as the electric point guard can explode at any time. As good as Kansas’ duo of Robinson and Taylor are, the key to this game will be how Kansas’ role players perform.  Players like Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey and Travis Releford will all need to play big as Kansas is definitely an underdog against #1 Kentucky.  Johnson is one guy to watch as the former high school star from Nevada has had a huge tournament averaging 13.4ppg and 5rpg in 5 tournament games. Withey will also be a huge key as his shot blocking (3.3bpg) and matchup with Anthony Davis, could have a large impact on who wins this game. In the end as much as I want Kansas to pull this off, I think Kentucky has enough balance and talent to pull this thing off and get Coach Calipari his 1st National title.  Anthony Davis will be the difference as his presence on defense and his ability to finish above the rim on offense help UK to their 8th NCAA title.

X-Factor: Jeff Withey/ Elijah Johnson, Kansas- Like I said these 2 role players will need to come up big for the Jayhawks as both will be relied on for secondary scoring and stout defense. Johnson who can be explosive will need to be a spark for KU as his ability to hit the 3(34%) and his athleticism make him the true wildcard in this game. Withey on the other hand will not need to be a scoring machine but will need to chip in here and there, and more importantly battle with Davis on both ends of the floor. If Kansas is to win, Johnson and Withey will have to be factors as Robinson and Taylor, as good as they are, cannot win this thing all by themselves.

Last Word: Kentucky much to my chagrin gets it done as their tremendous balance and talent level overwhelms an undermanned Kansas team. The Jayhawks will keep this close because of the play of Robinson and Taylor but in the end they just don’t have the depth or balance to pull off the upset over top-seeded Kentucky. John Calipari shows the one and done system can work as he will win his 1st NCAA title on the strength of his freshmen frontcourt of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.


Self takes home Naismith award

Kansas' Bill Self has been named the 2012 Naismith Men's College Basketball Coach of the Year, the school announced on Sunday. "Bill has done a remarkable coaching job this season and deserves all the accolades that come his way," said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, which presents the honor. "There's always something special...

Don't player hate on Calipari

It was Nov. 22, 2006 on shores of Maui in a forgettable third-place game at one of those preseason college basketball tournaments. Tubby Smith was still on the sidelines for Kentucky, seven seasons after winning a national title. John Calipari was coaching at Memphis, one year after making his first deep NCAA tournament run since taking UMass to the Final Four a decade earlier. ...

Jayhawks a reflection of Self

The 2011-2012 Kansas Jayhawks might not be Bill Self's best team. They're not his most talented or his deepest. But they might be the truest embodiment of his philosophy, thanks to a defense that at times resembles nothing so much as an active bear trap and a simple refusal to lose - much less panic - when everything is on the line.

Worth the Wait for John Calipari

Worth the Wait for John CalipariFor decades, one of the best college coaches in the game has been John Calipari.  Everywhere he’s gone he has brought programs to both prominence and destruction. In the past, he led UMass and Memphis to appearances in the Final Four, but he has never been able to capture that elusive championship.  He came the closest in 2008 when coincidently...

Will John Calipari Go to the NBA?

Everyone knows about the decisions the players on the Kentucky roster have to make about their basketball futures in the next couple of weeks, but could their head coach John Calipari follow them out of Lexington to coach in the NBA? Although rumors of Calipari to the pros have emerged every year since Calipari has...Read the Rest...

John Calipari, Anthony Davis, and the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats…the greatest AAU team of all-time

John Calipari has done it again by leading the Kentucky Wildcats to the Final Four. Now the only question to ask is when will this appearance be vacated? I put the over/under at 3 years or a year after John Calipari leaves. I know I may piss off Kentucky fans with that assertion, but it will happen. That just the way my boy John does business. You can’t assemble the 31st NBA team...

Self, Kansas flex rally chops again vs. OSU

NEW ORLEANS -- Down 13 on five different occasions in the first half on Saturday, Bill Self appeared to be on a path to his first loss in the Final Four. An 11-of-30 shooting performance in the opening 20 minutes usually doesn't equate to a national semifinal victory over a team as talented as Ohio State. But as they've done several times this year, Self's second-seeded...

Is John Calipari the "One and Done" Devil?

Listen, I have as much disdain for John Calipari as the next person. Do I agree with the “One and Done rule?” Nope. But, is John Calipari really the NCAA’s version of the devil just because he recruits a ton of “One and Dones?” Allow me to rewind for a moment back to the year 2000. The University of Memphis was coming off a three year run of its worst basketball in the...

Here's why Kansas will beat Kentucky

There are many reasons why Kentucky should run Kansas from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday. If talent and logic were the lone forces at work, John Calipari and his NBA-ready stars would celebrate the Wildcats' first national championship since 1998 after a 15-point rout. There would be little reason for the Jayhawks to believe. Kentucky's victory, after all, would...

Kentucky celebrates title with fans

Another championship banner has been unfurled at Rupp Arena. Kentucky's basketball team returned home to its adoring fans Tuesday, after defeating Kansas 67-59 Monday night to win the school's eighth NCAA championship. Blue-clad fans erupted into deafening cheers as the team pulled into the packed arena aboard a sleek blue bus emblazoned with ''national champions...

Obama congratulates Calipari on title

President Barack Obama has called coach John Calipari to congratulate the University of Kentucky men's basketball team on winning the NCAA championship. Obama told Calipari that ''his team played with class and dignity and that it was a great game to watch.'' Calipari passed the phone to center Anthony Davis and the president congratulated Davis, a Chicago native...

Next big thing shines in national title game

Last night a John Calipari coached team finally reached its potential as Kentucky overwhelmed Kansas to win the 2012 national championship.  Now for a lot of us is when the fun begins.  Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis won the tournament Most Outstanding Player, Naismith Player of the Year and Associated Press Player of the Year.  Davis will be the first pick in the NBA draft this...

Kansas-Kentucky Commentary: I’m Rooting For Kansas…But Find It Strangely Hard To Hate These Wildcats

I’m rooting for Kansas in tonight’s National Championship Game for a number of reasons that actually have to do with Kansas: It seems heartless to root against Thomas Robinson once you hear his story. Tyshawn Taylor has been around forever. I always find myself rooting for guys like him nowadays. I’ve personally always found Kansas fans to be knowledgeable and classy, so...
College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.