Four Keys to the NCAA March Madness Finals Monday Night
Prior to the beginning of this year's NCAA Men's Basketball tournament (affectionately referred to as "March Madness"), billionaire Warren Buffett was offering a billion dollars to anyone who could complete a perfect bracket.
Photo by Aaron Friedman Buffet can smell success, and knew the odds against getting a perfect NCAA bracket.
The immediate reaction to anything that pays a billion dollars is "WOW," because, well, a billion is a lot. Never mind that the odds are like 9.2 quintillion to one to attain a perfect bracket, and Buffett's billion was safe by Saturday of the first weekend.
I mean, it's a BILLION!
Truth be told, if Buffett really wanted to put his money where his mouth was, he'd find a few million between his seat cushions to duke anybody who had Connecticut and Kentucky in their bracket finals!
Because that's what we have tonight.
The seven seed UConn and eight seed Kentucky, two basketball blue bloods who in retrospect were definitely better than the seeds they got. UConn was a seven seed largely because their new conference (the AAC, yo!) was viewed as trash by the selection committee, and Kentucky was an eight seed because they lost 10 games and were in a conference only slightly better (SEC! SEC! SEC!).
However, both are now playing at a high level, and tonight both bring very specific traits to AT&T Stadium, and the winner will be the one who is able to impose their traits on the other team. In short, this is the size and bulk of Kentucky (EVERYWHERE on the floor) against the dogged defensive pressure of UConn's guards and fearlessness of Shabazz Napier and DeAndre Daniels.
Here are the four biggest keys to the game in my estimation:
4. UConn's defensive rebounding against Julius Randle and company.
Kentucky's biggest advantage in this game is its size on the interior, and at times during this tournament, Julius Randle has looked like an oversized sixth grader pushing around a bunch of third graders on the Nerf hoop in his basement. The only area where Florida had a decided advantage over UConn was on the offensive glass, where they gathered 12 offensive rebounds. Without those second chances, UConn probably wins that game by 20 instead of by 10.
3. The size of the Harrison twins
UConn's backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatwright have been as dominant defensively as any tournament backcourt that I can remember, and have absolutely ruined the last two point guards they've played (Appling, Michigan State and Wilbekin, Florida). Tonight, is a taller order. Literally, like the Harrison twins are really freaking tall. As much as we talk about Kentucky's bulk inside, the height advantage at guard will need to be neutralized if UConn is going to win.