Nothing can stop Kentucky from its destiny, especially Kansas

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NEW ORLEANS -- Things more resilient than Kentucky basketball at the moment:

Kevlar.

Bullet-proof glass.

Mitt Romney's hair. Let's just say it's a short list.

Kentucky's one-and-dones are a game away from being one-and-done. Mostly because you can't kill the Wildcats with a howitzer. This wasn't one of their best games, Saturday's national semifinal against Louisville. That probably had something to do with Saturday's national semifinal being against Louisville.

Rick Pitino would call a timeout during the night's first national semifinal. Kentucky would make a run. John Calipari would call a timeout. Kentucky would make a run.

It didn't matter.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed almost 14 minutes of the first half because of foul trouble. It didn't matter.

"I didn't feel any pressure at all," he said. "None at all."

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Terrence Jones played 33 minutes and was generally not Terrence Jones. Kentucky even blew a 13-point second-half lead. Then the Cardinals missed their next nine shots.

The Battle of Kentucky turned into The Beating of Louisville. Again. Is the Konquest of Kansas next?

Once you get past the basketball royalty and the titles and the class and the fans and wins going into Monday night, Kentucky is just better. This is their team. This is their destiny. At this point, an elephant gun might not be enough to take out the Wildcats. Their fans have taken over the city. Their team took over the country. You know things are going right when Jay-Z is sitting in the first row in one of the Kentucky cheering sections. Ninety-nine problems? Winning the national championship ain't one.

"Are they beatable?" Pitino said. "No question about it because Vanderbilt [in the SEC tournament] did it. But you're going to have to play great offense, great defense and you gotta bring an A-plus game and they're going to have to have a B game."

Good luck with all that, KU.

Let's get this straight. Kentucky won Saturday with what was probably one of those B efforts. Kansas? It needed a stirring comeback against Ohio State which, let's face it, choked a bit. Monday's matchups already look mismatched.

Kansas' best chance may be that Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist miss the team bus. This is not a shot at Kansas. Some reporter actually asked on Friday if Kentucky could beat an NBA team.

In December, reporters were asking if the Jayhawks would finish in the top three of the Big 12 after a loss to Davidson. No, Kentucky cannot beat an NBA team. It can beat Kansas mostly because there's no one else who can in this setting. And it already beat the Jayhawks 75-65 back in November. The score was tied at halftime, then the Wildcats just kind of took over.

Get ready for more of the same on Monday. The Jayhawks' biggest weapon in the national championship game may be a ghost. Check the Superdome hallways. There has to be one somewhere. Buildings this big don't get haunted by themselves.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a ghost to take down John Calipari. That would be the miracle formerly known as Mario Chalmers. It's been only four years but it might as well be a lifetime since the former Kansas guard stuck that dagger in the ribs of Calipari -- figuratively speaking -- in the 2008 national championship game. It came in the form of a tying three with 2.1 seconds left in regulation.

You have to remember that piece of unchewed steak that caught in Calipari's throat: Memphis up eight with 2:12 to go, the championship trophy practically being carried to the Tigers' locker room. Then with the clock winding down and up by three, Cal decided not to -- or the Tigers' couldn't -- foul. The memory of Kansas' 75-68 overtime win will not go away -- cannot go away -- unless Calipari beats Kansas.

What is supposed to be a cruise to Kentucky's eighth national championship suddenly has implications beyond Anthony Davis' draft position. It's the memory of Chalmers' shot posting up in Calipari's brain.

The Jayhawks weren't supposed to win that one either. Now they're Kardiac Kansas. KU has won its last four tournament games by a combined 21 points. It has won games by three, three and two points. That's either the Jayhawks' own brand of destiny or the reason why Kentucky will coast.

I'll say it again. Kentucky is the better team in the paint. Kansas has Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. But Kentucky has Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist and Jones, who weigh a combined 704 pounds. That's not just bulk, that's a baby steer.

This one is motivated. Angry, even.

"We don't panic," Kentucky guard Doron Lamb said. "We have great players. Somebody is going to make a great play for us."

That somebody is usually a certain projected No. 1 draft choice making his home in the lane on both ends. We all know Davis is a walking double-double. But on Saturday night he was something else to Pitino.

Bill Russell. Yes, Pitino kinda, sorta compared Davis to Bill Russell.

"When you're playing against Bill Russell at the pro level, you realize why the Celtics won 11 world championships," Louisville's coach said. "When you see this young man at the collegiate level, you realize why they're so good."

We'll never know if Davis even approaches Russell unless he is part of double-digit titles. But the comparison is valid. Art Spander of the San Francisco Examiner heard it too. He's been covering sports for more than half a century. The comparison, he said, is valid.

"To tell you the truth. I haven't always liked some of the Kentucky teams. I'm not going to lie to you," Pitino said. "But I really like this team a lot because of their attitude and the way they play."

Another reason to like the Wildcats. After one of the biggest games in the rivalry's history, they may have won over the Louisville coach. How's that for resilient?


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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