Site: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Time: Monday, about 9:10 p.m.
TV: CBS (Jim Nantz, Steve Kerr, Greg Anthony, Tracy Wolfson)
Radio: WTIC-AM 1080, WILI-AM 1400, WELI-AM 960 (Joe D'Ambrosio, Wayne Norman)
Series history: UConn, 3-1
Last meeting: UConn, 56-55, at Houston in Final Four, April 2, 2011
Streaks: Kentucky W5, UConn W5
1 JAMES YOUNG, G/F, 6-6, Fr., 14.2 ppg. – Had 17 points, two assists, two steals vs. Wisconsin
2 AARON HARRISON, G, 6-6, Fr.,13.9 – Hit game-winning shot vs. Wisconsin
5 ANDREW HARRISON, G, 6-6, Fr., 10.9– Has 154 assists, but 105 turnovers
30 JULIUS RANDLE, F, 6-9, Fr., 15.1 – Averages 10.5 rebounds
44 DAKARI JOHNSON, C, 7-0, Fr., 5.2 – Has started 17 games, but averages only 13.8 minutes
22 ALEX POYTHRESS, F, 6-8, So., 5.9 – Defense on Frank Kaminsky a key in semifinals
13 SHABAZZ NAPIER, G, 6-1, Sr., 17.9 ppg. – Hit critical free throws to beat Kentucky in 2011 semifinal
11 RYAN BOATRIGHT, G, 6-0, Jr., 12.1 – Defense a key in Huskies' win over Florida
5 NIELS GIFFEY, F, 6-7, Sr., 8.4 – Shooting 48.3 percent on threes, but 3-for-15 in NCAA
2 DeANDRE DANIELS, F, 6-9, Jr., 13.2– Had 20 points, 10 rebounds vs. Florida
00 PHIL NOLAN, C, 6-10, So., 3.4 – Shooting 77.5 percent from the line
35 AMIDA BRIMAH, C, 7-0, Fr., 4.2 – Playing 18.4 minutes off the bench in NCAA
What To Watch
Fabulous freshmen: The Wildcats, with one of the most heralded recruiting classes ever, obviously have talent. In terms of speed, skill, athletic ability, they are the most talented team UConn has faced. So far, youth and inexperience have not held them back in the NCAA Tournament, and whatever their individual agendas regarding the NBA might be, they are playing better than at any time this season.
UConn ball pressure: What Kentucky, which had only four turnovers against Wisconsin, has probably not seen is ball pressure at the level at which the Huskies have been bringing it. Andrew Harrison's assists-to-turnover ratio, 154-105, and Kentucky's 468 TOs to their opponents' 418, suggest ball security could be an issue against Napier and Boatright, and more so when Terrence Samuel checks in.
Notable absence: Kentucky lost Willie Cauley-Stein, a versatile 7-foot center, to an ankle injury in the tournament. He leads the Wildcats in blocks (106) and steals (44). If he were able to play, he would be very tough for the Huskies to deal with.
Making threes: UConn's offensive design has created the desired share of open looks from the perimeter. When the Huskies hit them, as they did against Florida (5-for-12), they are very hard to defend. Kentucky might have the length and quickness to get out and defend the three better than most teams UConn has seen.
Battle tested: Both teams, as No. 7 and No. 8 seeds, had to run a difficult gantlet to reach the Final. Kentucky has won its five games by a total margin of 18 points. UConn began its tournament run with an OT win over St. Joseph's and has since has won decisively against Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 seeds.
For posterity: UConn is going for its fourth national championship, all since 1999. It would be Kevin Ollie's first, and a win would likely give the UConn coach the opportunity to write his own ticket to earn a long, lucrative extension at UConn, his alma mater. His appeal to NBA teams looking for a head coach grows each day. Kentucky, meanwhile, has won eight championships, second only to UCLA's 11. Coach John Calipari who won the title in 2012, is almost certainly a future Hall of Famer. If he wanted to return to the NBA, where he once coached the Nets, a win here would enhance his appeal – and perhaps his desire for a new challenge.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun