The Kentucky Wildcats are one of the most storied teams in college basketball history. The program boasts 51 NCAA tournament appearances, 14 Final Fours and seven national championships.

After sending five freshmen to the NBA last season, many expected the Wildcats to be in a rebuilding season. Kentucky is capping off its rebuilding season with a trip to the Final Four. Freshman sensation Brandon Knight’s last-second shots lifted his team to victory in Round Two against Princeton and later against No. 1 overall seed Ohio State to advance to the Elite Eight.

The money-in-the-bank play of Brandon Knight is only one reason the Wildcats will hang their eighth national championship banner on Monday night. To complement his late-game heroics, Knight leads Kentucky in scoring, averaging 17.2 points per game, and chips in with 3.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Jones is second on the team in scoring (15.9 points per game) and rebounding (8.7).

The guy who made jean shorts way more popular in Kentucky than they should be, Josh Harrellson will be the deciding factor for the Wildcats. The kid nicknamed “Jorts” has smothered opponents on defense and nearly doubled his scoring average.

Coach John Calipari feels this is a different team than the one that struggled in an early season loss to UConn. Kentucky is winning the close games and they are too talented to fall to UConn again.

The Wildcats will ride the last-second heroics of Knight to a trip to the championship game where they will dash the hopes of whichever Cinderella, Butler or VCU, shows up for the final dance.

-- Craig Thomas,


Connecticut wasn’t even ranked when the season began. So to think the Huskies would wind up in the Final Four this weekend seems a little crazy.

But they have come a long way since November. Connecticut has made a remarkable run to Houston, carrying the momentum built up from surviving five days in the Big East tournament.

Kemba Walker has been the catalyst of the success. He played out of his mind as he led the Huskies to the Big East championship in early March, dropping in 20 or more points in all five games, and has continued to play sensational basketball during the march to the Final Four.

Walker is torching opponents to the tune of 23.9 points per outing. He has had 11 30-point games, a school record, and has scored 931 points this season, also a record.“I’m just doing the same things I’ve been doing earlier, being aggressive and making shots," he said. "I think it’s the time of the year that everybody really is getting a chance to see it. That’s really it.”

Freshman guard Jeremy Lamb also has risen to stardom. He has been clicking for 18.3 points per game and shooting a sizzling 59 percent from the floor during the NCAA tourney. He is averaging 11.1 ppg on the season and was named to the Big East All-Rookie team.

The dynamic duo of Walker and Lamb will be too much for Kentucky -- and either Butler or Virginia Commonwealth -- to handle. And in the end, it will too tough to keep the Huskies from flying out of town next week with their third national title.

-- Brian Lester,