Despite the mid-majors (Butler and Virginia Commonwealth) receiving most of the Final Four attention, the heavyweights are still around.
UConn and Kentucky are household college basketball teams and they will represent the establishment Saturday in Houston.
UConn coach Jim Calhoun has built a consistent winner, something that wasn’t happening before he arrived in Storms, Connecticut. His tenure has been far from blissful however. NCAA sanctions for rule violations continue over Calhoun’s head.
Kentucky coach John Calipari has taken three teams to the Final Four with UMass and Memphis being the other two squads. People have never said Calipari cannot coach. His best performance may have been this season. This group returned zero starters from the 2009-10 Kentucky team. But like Calhoun, Calipari has had trouble with the NCAA. Unlike Calhoun, he has not been charged with anything.
Guards usually highlight NCAA play this time of year and the UConn-Kentucky tussle will feature a couple of good ones. UConn’s Kemba Walker has taken over games in the tournament and is scoring 23.4 points per game. On the Kentucky sideline is freshman Brandon Knight. This kid is a point guard who can score. He’s at 17.3 per game.
But my favorite player in this game is Kentucky center Josh Harrellson. At 6-10, 275, he is what they say in basketball, a wide body. He was virtually unknown coming into the tournament, but America is taking a liking to this blue collar worker. He has put up decent numbers this season averaging 7.6 points and 8.8 rebounds.
Here’s hoping the old Kentucky home can gain the victory Saturday and send the final and 11th Big East team home.