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Point/counterpoint: Who will win the NCAA Tournament?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 02, 2012 6:30 AM

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Kansas

Tonight's NCAA Tournament championship features two teams accustomed to sticking around for the last song of the Big Dance.

The Kentucky Wildcats are a formidable foe for the Kansas Jayhawks, but Thomas Robinson and his teammates are more than capable of taking the title in New Orleans.

Kansas lost to the 'Cats, 75-65, in its second game of the season, but the Jayhawks improved greatly as the season progressed. They had some bad losses during the season, but their wins speak for themselves; they gave the Baylor Bears their first loss of the season and notched a 87-86 overtime win over Missouri during conference play.

The Jayhawks have flourished under the leadership of junior forward Robinson, who paced the team in points and rebounds with 17.9 and 11.8 per game.

Kansas proved its skill and depth even more during the NCAA Tournament than during its stellar regular season. The road to the championship game wasn't easy for the Jayhawks, who used the difficulty to their advantage and flourished.

They first proved this with a win over Purdue in the third round. Kansas overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and scored the go-ahead basket on a turnover with 23 seconds left.

Their next game, against Cinderella North Carolina State, had Jayhawks fans worried again. The team struggled to make baskets but still managed to win by 3 points to advance to the Elite Eight. There, the Jayhawks were able to take advantage of a Kendall Marshall-less North Carolina.

The Jayhawks proceeded to come from behind against Ohio State in the Final Four. Kansas was behind by as many as 13 points but won by 2 and kept its hopes of a fourth national championship alive.

It hasn't always been pretty for the Jayhawks, but their ability to overcome the odds throughout the NCAA Tournament proves they're a championship-caliber team.

Indiana and Vanderbilt proved during the regular season that Kentucky is beatable.

The NCAA championship presents a matchup of two teams playing great basketball, but in the end, Robinson and his Kansas Jayhawks will be able to overcome Anthony Davis and the Wildcats.

Rock. Chalk. Jayhawk.

— by Matt Cabel

Kentucky

Kentucky will win the national championship tonight.

The Wildcats' talent should be the first thing people notice when they sit down to watch the team. The youthful skill and artistry of this year's Wildcats will blind you to the point of disbelief. They aren't much younger than I am, but the numbers they put up easily justify the million-dollar paychecks they'll make in a few months.

But just how talented is John Calipari's group?

Louisville put Kentucky in positions it hadn't been in all tournament long in the teams' semifinal matchup on March 31. Rick Pitino's crew outrebounded the Wildcats, forced more turnovers, and tied Anthony "Eyebrow" Davis' shoelaces together to hang even with Kentucky at 49 with fewer than 10 minutes remaining. The Cardinals nearly gave Big Blue Nation a collective heart attack.

Kentucky still won by 8.

It seems unlikely that many fans thought Kentucky's freshman class could carry the team this far. But at 37-2, it's hard to argue the young men aren't some of the best we may ever see.

They've ripped through the tournament like a wet paper bag. They've won their games by an average of 12.6 points and defeated such talented teams as Indiana and Baylor en route to tonight's title game matchup with Kansas.

That's another thing to keep in mind. Remember when Calipari led his Memphis Tigers to square off against Bill Self's Jayhawks in the 2008 national title game? Mario Chalmers hit a miraculous 3-point shot to send the game into overtime, and Kansas ultimately claimed the title.

I can't think of a better way to get revenge than in completely dominating, "eff you" fashion on college basketball's biggest stage — you know, the same stage that belongs to Davis.

Bow to the 'Brow. We can make fun of him until the Sun comes up, but nobody looks ugly when you add "national champion" to his résumé.

— by Cody Goodwin


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