Spears’ Spiel: NCAA basketball title game will be one to remember
By: Matt Spears
When the ball goes up tonight at 9:23 p.m., forget about everything else.
Forget about the homework. Forget about work or class in the morning. Forget about what you want to forget about.
Just enjoy watching Kentucky’s under-aged pool of NBA talent battle Kansas’ how-in-the-hell-did-we-make-it-here group of survivors for the NCAA basketball title at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Kentucky has been the favorite, and rightly so, since the season started. There’s no reason to think the Wildcats aren’t, or shouldn’t be, the favorite for tonight’s title game against the Jayhawks.
Led by Anthony Davis, the soon-to-be No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague, Kentucky has the athleticism, length and versatility unmatched by any other team in college basketball. Their talent is so widely regarded and respected that it has spawned an old debate: could this Wildcats team beat an NBA team?
Of course, that idea is ludicrous. No way, no how would Kentucky defeat an NBA team.
Not in one game. Not in ten games. Probably not even 100.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t whoop any and every college team that crosses its path. And that’s all that matters.
Kansas is the only team standing between Kentucky and its eighth National Championship—not the Toronto Raptors or Charlotte Bobcats.
While that gives the ‘Cats a much better chance of winning, nothing is guaranteed.
If you look at the Jayhawks during the tournament, you wonder how they made it to the Sweet 16, let alone the title game.
Purdue choked away a 10-point lead as Kansas rallied to win.
They easily could have lost to North Carolina State, but barely advanced.
They went tooth-and-nail with North Carolina, which played without its leader and floor general in Kendall Marshall, until pulling away in the final minutes.
Then came their latest, and perhaps most impressive, accomplishment as they bounced back from a 13-point deficit to stun Ohio State and advance to the finals with a 64-62 victory.
Now comes the grand finale.
Bill Self against John Calipari (Self’s Kansas team beat Calipari and Memphis in the 2008 title game). Anthony Davis against Thomas Robinson (the top two vote-getters in this year’s AP Player of the Year award).
It’s a David against Goliath matchup.
Logic, not to mention talent, would seem to indicate that Kentucky has the upper hand. While I fall in line with most Americans predicting Kentucky notches one more win before sending nearly all of its rotation players to the NBA, you can’t dismiss the Jayhawks.
Not after the toughness and resiliency they’ve shown. This is exactly the type of game where the Jayhawks will look to hang around and grind it out, hoping to squeak out one final victory and cap what would be an improbable championship run.
Kentucky is clearly the more-talented team, but there’s a grittiness to Kansas that keeps them going. Whatever the outcome may be, when that ball goes in the air tonight and these two teams tip-off, stop what you’re doing.
Forget about everything else because this will be a game to remember.
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