NCAA National Championship - Kentucky Wildcats vs. Kansas Jayhawks - 9:23 pm EDT
Just in case you've been asleep under a rock the past month, tonight's the night, the BIG ONE, for all the college hoops marble, the national championship final pitting the Kentucky Wildcats against the Kansas Jayhawks.
They are the two winningest programs in collage basketball. Kentucky has 2,089 victories all-time, while Kansas is a close second with 2070.
Without a doubt, this one will be a thriller. It has all the elements of a classic that will be looked back upon when maybe half a dozen of the players on the court tonight will be NBA stars.
Two of the greatest college hoops programs feature two exceptional coaches. Kansas' Bill Self has done nothing but win in his nine years with the Jayhawks, compiling a record of 269 wins and 52 losses, a winning percentage of .839, seven straight Big 12 regular season championships and five Big 12 tournament titles, a national championship in 2008 and his second trip to the Final Four.
John Calipari, coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, has had his sights set on winning a national championship since he set foot on the Kentucky campus in 2009. In three season, Coach Cal has produced a record of 101-14, winning the SEC championship each year and is making his second straight Final Four appearance.
The teams are highly regarded, as Kentucky owns the best overall record this season at 37-2, while Kansas went through the 2011-12 season with a 32-6 tally. Both teams lost in their conference tournaments, Kentucky falling to Vanderbilt in the SEC final, while the Jayhawks were ousted from the Big 12 tourney by Baylor in a semi-final meeting.
Featured in the game will be the two leading player of the year candidates, Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Kansas' Thomas Robinson. Freshman Davis averages 14 points and 10 rebounds and is a shot-blocking specialist, setting the single-season record for blocked shots. Robinson is the complete power forward, averaging 17.9 points and 11.6 boards.
While those two will almost certainly wage a battle royal in the lane, their running mates, UK forward Terrance Jones and Kansas 7-footer Jeff Withey will also play key roles, while the backcourt battle between point guards Tyshawn Taylor and Marcus Teague will be a determinant of which team gets the better scoring opportunities.
The two teams met back in November, with Kentucky taking a 75-65 win at Kansas, though the outcome of that game is nearly meaningless five months later. Both teams have matured and dominated their opponents since, and there is nary a weakness on either squad.
Nationally televised by CBS, the Wildcats are the bettors' choice, having been installed as 6 1/2 point favorites in most popular venues.