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NCAA championship basketball game odds: No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats vs No. 7 Connecticut Huskies

NCAA championship basketball game odds: No. 8 Kentucky Wildcats vs No. 7 Connecticut Huskies

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It’s an NCAA Tournament championship game that no one saw coming as No. 8 Kentucky faces No. 7 UConn on Monday night outside Dallas. It’s the highest combined seeding for an NCAA final. The Wildcats opened as 3-point WagerWeb online betting favorites.

Kentucky advanced with a thrilling 74-73 win over Wisconsin on Saturday. Freshman guard Aaron Harrison took a pass from his twin brother, Andrew, spotted up from NBA range and watched the ball rattle in for the lead with 5.7 seconds left. It was a near carbon copy of his game winner last weekend in the regional final against Michigan. It was almost as clutch as the 3 he made the game before that helped Kentucky take the lead for good in the Sweet 16 against Louisville. The Wildcats, who missed March Madness last year, haven’t lost a tournament game since the 2011 semifinal against UConn.

The Wildcats had 66 points from their freshmen against Wisconsin, the most by a team’s freshmen in a Final Four game (Michigan had 61 in 1992). John Calipari is now 18-2 in the NCAA tournament as Kentucky head coach. It’s the 12th national title game appearance for UK.

Connecticut moved on by beating No. 1 overall seed Florida 63-53. once to Wisconsin in the second game of the season and twice to the Huskies. The first time was on Dec. 2 when a foul-line jumper at the buzzer by Shabazz Napier gave UConn a 65-64 victory. Napier helped seal this game with about 2 minutes to play when he made two free throws for a 59-47 lead. That margin was the deficit the Huskies (31-8) faced in the opening minutes after a cold-shooting start. UConn was led by DeAndre Daniels, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds. He’s the first player with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in a national semifinal win since Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony in 2003.

UConn is headed to the national title game for the fourth time since 1999 — the most by any program during that time period. It won the previous three. For the first time ever, a 7-seed and 8-seed will meet in the national championship. It’s the highest combined seed total in a title game. The Huskies are the first 7-seed ever to reach the national championship. The Wildcats are the third 8-seed since the tournament expanded in 1985 to reach the title game (2011 Butler, 1985 Villanova). Villanova is the only 7-seed or lower to win the national championship.

With Napier and Ryan Boatright dominating opposing guards on the defensive end in this tournament, the question Kentucky will have to answer is whether guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison can do enough of what they need to do offensively to beat the Huskies. UConn made Michigan State a jump-shooting team. UConn turned Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin into a non-factor. And if UConn makes Kentucky a jump-shooting team, the Huskies likely will win.

Kentucky appears to have a significant edge on the boards; its starters are, on average, 2.4 inches taller than UConn’s starting five. In the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats are outrebounding their opposition by 9.0 rebounds per game, grabbing 13.2 offensive boards per contest. For the season, they rank second in the nation with a rebound differential of plus-9.7 per game. The Huskies have exactly one more rebound than their opponents through five tournament games.

WagerWeb trends: Wildcats are 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a S.U. win. Wildcats are 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 NCAA Tournament games. Wildcats are 7-0-1 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. Wildcats are 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games. Huskies are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a S.U. win. Huskies are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. Huskies are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS win. Huskies are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.

 

 

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