Sunday, April 1, 2012

NCAA Tournament: No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 1 Kentucky Live stream online video sopcast

2011 College Basketball Kansas vs. Kentucky

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Venue: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Time: Monday, April 2nd at 9:18PM
Television: CBS
Spread: Kentucky -6.5

There are just two teams that are left to fight it out for the whole enchilada in the 2011-12 college basketball betting campaign, and on Monday night, either the Kentucky Wildcats or the Kansas Jayhawkswill be crowned as champions.
The Jayhawks haven’t always been the sharpest this year, as they had a number of losses that just make you scratch your head. Many think that they have faced a bit of an easy road to reach the finale, and there is definitely an argument that could be made about that. KU has played three double-digit seeds, and a North Carolina Tar Heels team that was playing without its top two point guards. Of course, that gritty win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Final Four was definitely one to savor. It was just further proof that this team has figured out how to win the close games regardless of what the situation is that they are in. Everyone had key contributions to the come from behind effort. Thomas Robinson had 19 points and eight boards, while Tyshawn Taylor did a great job down the stretch on both ends of the court. He also had 10 points and eight assists. Travis Releford knocked down the four biggest free throws of the season, and he ended with 15 points and six rebounds. Elijah Johnson had 13 points and 10 boards. Jeff Withey had a tremendous game on the defensive side of the court, blocking seven shots, including two in the final 90 seconds of the game.
We are a bit worried that Kentucky hasn’t played a close game in quite some time. In fact, the last time that there was a game that the Cats really struggled in down the stretch, they were beaten by the Vanderbilt Commodores in the SEC Championship Game. Anthony Davis was named the AP’s National Player of the Year on Saturday, and he is certainly the overwhelming favorite to be the Final Four MVP as well. He had 18 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocked shots on 7-of-8 shooting offensively for the Wildcats against the hated Louisville Cardinals, and he was clearly the only man on the team that made that much of an impact on both sides of the court. Marquis Teague battled some foul trouble and had five assists and just eight point. He was also the man that was responsible for this offense just not getting all that many possessions in the Final Four. Louisville did the job on the glass, picking up 16 offensive rebounds on the game, and that has to be a scary proposition for the Big Blue Nation.
Obviously much will be made of the frontcourt matchups, and rightfully so.  Each team features one of the nation’s best shot-blockers, although Withey will have his hands full with Anthony Davis based on his mobility.  By the same token, Thomas Robinson will put a tremendous amount of pressure on Terrence Jones defensively as well as on the glass.  Again, foul trouble to any of these players would be huge, but I wouldn’t expect the game to be called all that closely on Monday.
And while the frontcourt battle will get the pre-game headlines, the backcourt matchups should be impressive as well.  For Kansas, Tyshawn Taylor has struggled with his shooting but has come up with key plays and has 23 assists over the last four games, including nine dimes against OSU in the Final Four.  Elijah Johnson is playing his best basketball of the season and has reached double figures in all five tournament games.
For the Wildcats, the three-headed monster of Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, and Darius Miller has consistently performed well.  Teague has just eight points in each of the last two games, but he tallied 38 points against Iowa State and Indiana.  Lamb has reached double figures in each contest with Saturday’s 10-point performance his lowest output of the tournament.  As for Miller, the senior has routinely made clutch plays, scoring 19 points against both Iowa State and Indiana to go with 13 in the win over Louisville.  John Calipari has done a nice job of mixing and matching these guys depending on who has the hot hand.
On the wing, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist managed just nine points for Kentucky on Saturday, but I would expect a bounce back performance from him based on how well he had played leading up to the Final Four.  Kansas will need Travis Releford to come up big once again following his 15-point, 6-rebound effort versus Ohio State.  Releford and reserve Kevin Young will be tasked with trying to contain MKG, which will be a tall order.
The coaching matchup between Calipari and Bill Self should be a great one as well, but brace yourselves for plenty of references to their matchup in the 2008 National Championship Game.
I picked Kentucky to win the tournament before it started, and nothing I have seen since then has caused me to back off of that prediction.  For Kansas to win, it will be imperative to get either Davis or Jones in foul trouble, and the Jayhawks will also need to pound the offensive glass as Louisville did on Saturday.  However, I think Withey will struggle to defend Anthony Davis, and as I predicted initially, Kidd-Gilchrist will be a difference maker with his relentless attitude and strength.

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(1) Kentucky Wildcats
In a Final Four Matchup against Louisville that was not lacking intriguing story lines in the least bit, the Wildcats proved to be the better team defensively as they eliminated the Cardinals 69-61. The Wildcats held the Cardinals to 34 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent from beyond the arc. The Cardinals made a couple of runs in the second half, but in the end they just could not get the consecutive buckets they needed. Anthony Davis played like the star he is, putting up 18 points, 14 boards and five blocks. The Wildcats uncharacteristically got outrebounded and shot 55 percent from the charity stripe. They don’t want those two problems to persist on Monday against Kansas, because they will capitalize on them if they do. The Jayhawks are going to be looking to their leader Thomas Robinson for a big game. If Kentucky can slow him down, the title will be returning back to Lexington.
(2) Kansas Jayhawks
In the first half the Jayhawks were having a hard time figuring out the Buckeyes’ defense. They missed a lot of shots they should have made and found themselves in a 34-25 halftime hole as a result. The tables turned in the second half, though, as the Jayhawks defense picked it up a notch to seal the 64-62 comeback victory. After a slow start Thomas Robinson finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. Jeff Withey deserves a ton of credit for the way he defended Jared Sullinger. He used his length very effectively, holding Sullinger to just five makes on 19 attempts. As expected, Tyshawn Taylor had some trouble against the pesky Aaron Craft, but he managed to dish out nine assists and score 10 points. The Jayhawks were a +11 on the glass. Winning the battle of the boards against Kentucky will be key if they are going to pull off the upset. Robinson needs to be on top of his game early and try to get Davis into foul trouble as well.
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