Final Four predictions: Kentucky vs. Connecticut
  • writers take their best shot at predicting which teams will play for the national championship.

VCU vs. Butler, 6:09 p.m. ET (CBS) | Connecticut vs. Kentucky, 8:49 p.m. ET (CBS)

· Dodd: Calipari, Calhoun still techy about the past
· Freeman: Why does Calhoun get a pass and not Calipari?
· How they got here: Connecticut | Kentucky
· The Edge: Breaking down the matchup
· Blog: Calipari can coach | Calhoun elder statesman
Game preview
UConn highlights
Kentucky highlights
Gary Parrish, Senior Writer
Connecticut has the best player (Kemba Walker) but Kentucky has the best roster (Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, etc.), and that's going to prove to be the difference in the second national semifinal. When the Huskies beat UK in Maui back in November, John Calipari's talented freshmen were still adjusting to the college game and learning how to guard, especially on the perimeter. But the adjusting is done and the defense is now tremendous. So expect Calipari to be coaching on the first Monday night in April for the second time in four years, at which point he'll be one win away from proving, once and for all, that you absolutely can win a national title by recruiting one-and-done stars.
Dennis Dodd, Senior Writer
Jim Calhoun really, really likes that Maui Invitational trophy. Little did we know back in November when UConn beat Kentucky on Lahaina that a beautiful thing was happening. "Maui," he said, "was house money." Now for the real thing in a national semifinal rematch. This is the year John Calipari proved he could coach a little after losing four freshmen to the NBA. Watch for 6-foot-6 DeAndre Liggins to check Kemba Walker, the tournament's best player to this point. He won't be able to, of course -- no one does. Kemba is averaging 26.3 points since the beginning of the Big East tournament. The question is how well UConn's Jeremy Lamb and big men (Alex Oriakhi, Charles Okwandu) provide supplementary scoring. Believe it or not, I think this game hinges on Kentucky's Josh Harrelson. All the sudden, the 6-10 post who has averaged 4.7 points in his career is finishing with flair around the basket.
Gregg Doyel, National Columnist
For starters, I'm throwing that Nov. 24 game out the window. UConn 84, Kentucky 67? That's the answer to a trivia question, and that's all it is. Neither team is the same, and while UConn has gotten better in areas of scoring balance -- specifically the emergence of Jeremy Lamb -- Kentucky has gotten better in just about every area. More important, Kentucky has had a full season of games to study Kemba Walker, to probe his game for weaknesses, and I expect Kentucky defensive stopper DeAndre Liggins to have a much better showing this time than in November, when Walker scored 29 points on just 17 shots. Walker will be slowed; will UConn have enough offensive balance to outscore the Wildcats? I don't see it.
Mike Freeman, National Columnist
This is the easiest game of the Final Four to pick for one simple reason: Kentucky is the better team. It is. At this point, the team's youth is irrelevant. They're playing like 10-year vets. The guy who will dominate this game is Josh Harrellson. No team in the tournament has been able to stop him, and UConn won't either. In some ways, he's the most well-rounded player in the Final Four. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Kentucky’s best chance to win is coach John Calipari himself. Calipari will tell you he has always been a good tactical coach, but his metamorphosis into a strategic X's-and-O's, Bill Belichickian genius gives him the advantage over Huskies counterpart Jim Calhoun.
Eric Angevine, Eye on College Basketball blogger
Two young teams with short benches. In that case, it all comes down to five or six guys on each side of the court. Since both teams rely so heavily on freshmen, don't be surprised if the game hinges on a little play here or there by one of Kentucky's less-heralded upperclassmen. UK showed a lot by downing an experienced, heavy favorite in Ohio State. Taking down North Carolina was probably a perfect entree to this game, where UConn will have the size advantage as well as a dominant future lottery pick to contend with in Kemba Walker. The Wildcats are going back to the final.
Jeff Borzello, Eye on College Basketball blogger
Two programs with storied histories will trot out a mix of freshmen and veterans –- which will prevail? It will come down to Kentucky's ability to keep Kemba Walker out of the lane and slow him down in transition. If DeAndre Liggins -- who Walker scored 29 against in November -- can keep Walker on the perimeter, Kentucky should win. On the other side, Connecticut has to guard the 3-point shot. The Wildcats shoot the ball as well as anyone in the country, while Connecticut has struggled at times defending the arc. In the end, it's hard to bet against Walker.
Matt Jones, Eye on College Basketball blogger
These two teams played in Maui, and the result was an 84-67 beatdown by the Huskies. Both teams are very different now, but Kentucky is virtually an entirely new squad. The team in Maui revolved its offense around Terrence Jones, while this team uses Brandon Knight as the centerpiece of a much more balanced attack. UConn is much better than it was before because of the emergence of Jeremy Lamb, but its overall options are limited. Kemba Walker will have a good game, but in the end, Kentucky wins late once again.
Matt Norlander, Eye on College Basketball blogger
What a contrast we'll see from the first game of the day. Don't let those overanalyzing tell you otherwise: It is all about Kemba Walker. He's gotten the team to this point, and no matter how well Jeremy Lamb plays, Walker will dictate whether UConn has a chance. I like Kentucky to win because I like DeAndre Liggins on Walker. Liggins has been assigned to opposing teams' best players all season, and with nary an exception, he has shut them down. A muted Kemba means a loud Reliant Stadium, which will be bursting with Kentucky fans.


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