Sunday, April 1, 2012

There promises to be plenty of Blues on Monday in Naw'lins

When filling out my March Madness bracket each year, there are certain teams and coaches who I never trust to win a title. I'd rather take my chances on "the field" than put my ten bucks on Kansas, Ohio State or any John Calipari-choached team to win it all. Well, looks like that theory just bit me in the ass! Waving a big, white flag, I now endorse the Kentucky Wildcats for National Champion. It was a wave of Blue that swarmed the Blood Red (new orange day glo)of Louisville, and a 2nd half tidalwave of Rock Chalk Blue that drowned out the Buckeye scarlet.

Finally, this is Coach Cal's year to win it all. It has to be.

Sure, the Championship might just be vacated, Reggie Bush-style a few years from now, but hey, Lexington should live it up while they can!

The Cats looked absolutely fantastic on Saturday as Kentucky dismantled in-state rival Louisville and former Wildcat coach Rick Pitino for the 69-61 victory and a trip to the Championship game on Monday. Kentucky dominated throughout, minus a second-half surge that saw the Cardinals tie the game, never to actually take the lead as the Wildcats weathered the storm quite well.

Anthony Davis and his mega-unibrow played in a different stratosphere, as the Cats' forward clogged up the stat line with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks. I don't know that Calipari even coaches the X's and O's really, as I see him as more of a personality/ego manager who knows how to recruit the most talented kids in the country, regardless of how long they will actually stay in school.

I can't see any team beating Kentucky, not even Kansas, who will face the Wildcats in Monday's title game. The Jayhawks squeaked by the Buckeyes in the nightcap, beating Ohio State 64-62 after rallying from a 13-point first-half deficit.

One could easily argue that close finish was the result of Kansas facing a tougher opponent in Ohio State than Kentucky did in Louisville, but I don't think that will make a big difference come Monday night.

After the game, Kansas forward Thomas Robinson told sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson that there is something about trailing in a game that gets his team fired up, implying that they need to be down to play hard.

Well Jayhawks, that strategy ain't gonna work against Kentucky. The victory over Louisville marked the 40th straight game in which a Kentucky lead at halftime resulted in a win for the Wildcats. No team is mentally tougher than Calipari's Wildcats so using a deficit to light a fire under your butt probably won't be enough to get a win.

Then again, remember the last time Bill Self and Kansas trailed late against a Calipari-coached team in the National Championship game? Derrick Rose and his Memphis Tigers missed several free-throws down the stretch, as they watched a 9-point lead with less than two minutes to play slip away and leaving the door wide open for Mario Chalmers and the Jayhawks to walk right through, which they did. At the end of an overtime period, Kansas was crowed National Champion.

The bad news for Calipari is that, like his former Tigers team, his Kentucky Wildcats are also lack strength at the free-throw line. The good news is that Kansas is even worse at the charity stripe.

While I am hoping for a close game, I expect a performance more like Duke vs. Arizona in 2001, where the Blue Devils held a lead that was sizable - hovering around the 10-point mark - but small enough to keep the game interesting until the final minutes.

Just like in the food chain, I think the cat gets the best of the bird on Monday.