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Tag Archive | "2012 National Championship Picks"

2012 NCAA Tournament National Championship Game Picks: Kansas vs Kentucky Odds and Predictions – Free NCAA Tournament Picks 4/2/2012

2012 NCAA Tournament National Championship Game Picks: Kansas vs Kentucky Odds and Predictions – Free NCAA Tournament Picks 4/2/2012: Kentucky and Kansas already have a seat at the table of college basketball royalty, and on Monday night, one school will add another national title to its already rich history. For the top-seeded Wildcats (37-2), reaching the championship game of the 2012 NCAA tournament was practically expected and winning would be the culmination of a season marked by dominance from one of the most talented group of young players ever assembled Meanwhile, the second-seeded Jayhawks (32-6) have exceeded expectations and used a series of late-game comebacks throughout the tournament to come within a game of winning their second national title since 2008. In that game, Kansas upset set John Calipari and the favored Memphis Tigers. The Jayhawks are in a similar position this time around, as well, entering the game as 6 ½-point underdogs to Calipari and his Wildcats.

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Monday’s title game is a rematch of a November meeting between the two schools. That game was held at Madison Square Garden as part of the State Farm Champions Classic, and Kentucky won the neutral site matchup by a final of 75-65. The Wildcats were turnover prone throughout the game, but they also blocked 13 shots and shot 51 percent from the field compared to 33.9 percent for Kansas. Kentucky led by as many as 17, and the final could have been even uglier had the Wildcats not gone missed 13 free throws. While the Jayhawks looked overmatched the first time around, it has been more than four months since the meeting. More importantly, the pressure of playing for a national title creates a different atmosphere, and there is no guarantee that the result will be the same.

One thing that will likely remain similar is the approach of both sides. In the November meeting, all five Kentucky starts scored in double figures, and the balanced attack has been the calling card of the Wildcats all season. Meanwhile, forward Thomas Robinson and point guard Tyshawn Taylor were the only two Jayhawks to reach double digits, and the two have been carrying Kansas offensively all season. Kentucky can survive an off night from one of its starters, but the Jayhawks have little chance of winning if Robinson or Taylor don’t bring their A game.

Kentucky’s biggest advantage in Monday’s showdown comes in the frontcourt. Center Anthony Davis, who has picked up multiple Player of the Year honors, and forwards Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones gives Kentucky three different big men that can dominate a game. In the first meeting with Kansas, the trio combined for 41 points, 22 rebounds and 13 blocks. Davis led the way with seven blocks, and they made life miserable for Robinson, who finished with just 11 points. Robinson has to find a way to get his offense on track Monday night, or the Jayhawks going to struggle to keep up with Kentucky’s offensive firepower.

Kansas also has to capitalize on its advantage in the backcourt. Taylor is a senior, and after abusing the young Kentucky guards in the first meeting for 22 points, his confidence should be sky high heading into Monday’s game. Taylor also forced Kentucky freshman point guard Marquis Teague into six turnovers, and the Wildcats committed 19 as a team. If the Jayhawks are going to pull the upset, Taylor needs to have a big night offensively, and the Jayhawks need to pressure Kentucky’s guards into another rash of miscues.

The X-factor in the game could be Kansas center Jeff Withey. Perhaps no player for the Jayhawks has improved more over the course of the year, and the big man is averaging more than three blocks per game. Withey was too slow for the athletic Kentucky big men in the first meeting, but he looked pretty good in the national semifinal, shutting down Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger. If he can at least prevent easy baskets from Davis and the Kentucky big men, Kansas could keep the score in a manageable range.

In the end, there is little doubt that Kentucky is the more talented team. In fact, the Wildcats are probably the most talented team in the country and have been the No. 1 team in the country most of the year. That being said, the Jayhawks have been overachieving most of the season, and they have rallied from deficits on a repeated basis during the NCAA tournament, including erasing a 13-point deficit against the Buckeyes. Taylor and Robinson probably won’t be able to power Kansas to an upset over such a well-balanced Kentucky team. However, the scrappy and physical Jayhawks will likely find a way to hang close and keep things interesting.

Prediction: Kansas Jayhawks (+6 ½) Cover the Spread

NCAA TOURNAMENT VEGAS ODDS: Favorite: Kentucky -6.5 Total: Over/Under 137.5

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