UK-UConn: Who has the edge?

MFF_2013_LogoBy Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune (MCT)

TV: CBS, 8:10 p.m.

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

OFFENSE

The Wildcats, averaging 75.3 points, hit opponents in waves. Their dominant inside presence overwhelms teams, led by Julius Randle’s 15.1 points and 10.5 rebounds. Kentucky embarrassed Wisconsin 46-24 in the paint and 23-10 on second-chance points in the semifinals.

Undersized Connecticut doesn’t have enough in this area to counterpunch.

Advantage: Kentucky

DEFENSE

Connecticut’s tournament run can be pinned to its defense. The Huskies forced Michigan State into ill-advised jump shots and held the Spartans to a tournament-low 54 points. They kept point guard Scottie Wilbekin out of the lane to hold Florida to a season-low 53. Guards Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier are standout defenders for the Huskies, who held their five tournament foes to 65.8 points.

The Wildcats are beasts on the boards, beating tournament opponents 35.2-26.2.

Advantage: Connecticut

COACH

There’s no denying Kevin Ollie is making his mark in his second season in charge at Connecticut. But this is familiar territory to Kentucky coach John Calipari.

He has been in five Final Fours and won the title in 2012. The Wildcats rely mostly on freshmen, but Calipari’s experience at this stage is valuable.

Ollie has done a tremendous job of getting his players to buy into defense.

Advantage: Kentucky

INTANGIBLES

The Wildcats don’t get rattled. In all five NCAA tournament victories, they have trailed and rallied to win. They came back from 13 down against Louisville and trailed Michigan by 10 with a little more than five minutes to play.

Wichita State and Wisconsin each had nine-point leads before Kentucky came back for last-minutes victories.

Advantage: Kentucky

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Aaron Harrison, Kentucky. Three straight games, three straight winning shots. The freshman is clutch. If he has the ball as the clock winds down, it’s over.

Shabazz Napier, Connecticut. The senior guard has led the Huskies in scoring with 21 points in tournament games, and his defense is becoming just as valuable.