The Kentucky Wildcats were this year’s preseason No. 1 college basketball team. The Connecticut Huskies began play in the AAC after being left out of the ACC, a conference that welcomed other former Big East powers with open arms. At times this season, both teams showed they could play with the best squads in the nation. At other times, both of these teams showed vulnerability and several holes in their games. Now, when it counts, both teams are playing their best basketball of the season and will meet for the national championship on Monday night.
When you add up these two teams’ seeds, you get 15. That is the highest total in the history of the NCAA tournament. Therefore, statically, this year’s championship is the most unlikely to ever take place. At the beginning of the tournament, it would’ve seemed pretty unlikely as well.
Kentucky struggled and showed flashes of brilliance at points during this season, forcing the Wildcats into a No. 8 seed in the tournament after falling to the No. 1 overall seed Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game. It appears that close loss lit a fire under the Wildcats that is still burning strong.
Connecticut flew under the radar this season playing in the AAC, a conference that proved to be of a higher quality than first thought. Going 26-8 during the regular season, the Huskies got a tough matchup with the St. Joseph’s Hawks in the first round. The Hawks pushed them into overtime, but the Huskies prevailed. They continued on and knocked off No. 2 seed Villanova and then narrowly escaped No. 3 seed Iowa State to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight. With a trip to the Final Four on the line, Connecticut knocked off Michigan State, who many experts called the best team in the tournament.
After two last-second, clutch three-pointers by freshman Aaron Harrison, the Wildcats have survived near defeat multiple times. Playing in several exciting games, Connecticut has survived near defeat many times as well.
Only one team can survive Monday night.