Calipari vs. Self. The one-and-dones against the NCAA veterans. Two storied basketball schools in the final game of the 68-team, single-elimination NCAA Tournament for the National Championship.
The Kentucky Wildcats are #1 seeds for the third year in a row and look to avenge last year’s one-point Final Four upset loss to Kemba Walker and UCONN. Anthony Davis, the AP Player of the Year, leads the Wildcats inside with his defensive instincts, dominating length and shot-block ability… and his intimidating monobrow. He has a high basketball IQ and is surrounded with just as much talent in NBA prospects Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller. The high-flying Kidd-Gilchrist should be a terrific NBA wingman if he can develop a consistent outside jumper. Jones is an impressive athlete and long. A solid ball-handler with good court vision, especially for a forward, he really needs to learn to use his right hand and learn to shoot from the perimeter. Teague is a quick, powerful guard who can’t really shoot from range, but makes up for it with his elite athleticism, court vision and ball-handling.
The Jayhawks of Kansas reach the title game for the first time since their 2008 National Championship and for the 3rd time in the last 10 years. Thomas Robinson is the star of the Jayhawks and will surely be an NBA lottery pick at the power forward position.
For Kentucky, the key is that they really share the ball and play great team defense, especially for having as many young stars as they do. Lamb is solid from mid-range and Miller is their only decent perimeter shooter, so Kansas could beat them if Tyshawn Taylor gets hot from 3-point land and Robinson has a dominating game inside.
This is the biggest difference between a 1 and 2-seed in perhaps the tournament’s history, talent-wise. Should the Jayhawks pull off the upset, it would be, perhaps, Coach of the Year Bill Self’s single biggest career victory. If the Wildcats lose, it may not be long before we see Cal back in the NBA and a “Breaking news!” scandal begins to surface in the media about former Wildcat NBA players’ secret school-sponsored vacations during recruitment, Swiss bank accounts and the rumors of briefcases full of foreign currencies being passed around behind closed doors in the coach’s office with foreign “dignitaries,” aka mob bosses turn into national headlines.
The National Championship Game tips off @ 6:23 PT on April 2nd, 2012 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Lousiana, USA. Paul Tetu is an artist and journalist. Follow him on Twitter @PRTetu or subscribe on Facebook.