The 2011 Final Four begins on Saturday night, with the Connecticut Huskies facing the Kentucky Wildcats in the second and final game of the day at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas at 8:49 p.m. EDT.
Matchup: No. 3 seed Connecticut (39-9) faces No. 4 seed Kentucky (36-8) in the second of two Final Four games in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Date/Time: Saturday, April 2, 2011 - 8:49 p.m. EDT.
Broadcast Information: Both of the 2011 Final Four games on Saturday will be broadcast on CBS. Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr and Tracy Wolfson will serve as the broadcast team for both games.
Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX (76,500 capacity). The home of the NFL's Houston Texans will be transformed to host the 2011 Final Four and the 2011 NCAA national championship game.
Odds: Kentucky opened up as a 2.5-point favorite. 5Dimes.com has the Wildcats as a 2.5-point favorite while Bodog.com gives a two-point advantage to Kentucky.
Series History: Connecticut leads the all-time series 2-1 against Kentucky. The last time the Huskies and Wildcats met on November 24, 2010 in the Maui Invitational title game, and UConn posted an 84-67 win behind Kemba Walker's 29-point performance.
Fun Facts: This is the first time in NCAA Tournament history that there has not been a top or second seed playing in the Final Four. In addition, this is the first team that a team with a dog mascot (UConn) and a cat mascot (Kentucky) are playing each other in the national semifinals.
Connecticut In The 2011 NCAA Tournament: After winning five game in five days to win the 2011 Big East Tournament title, UConn has won its first four games in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Huskies defeated Bucknell (81-52) in the second round, Cincinnati (69-58) in the Round of 32, San Diego State (74-67) in the Sweet 16 and Arizona (65-63) in the Elite Eight.
Kentucky In The 2011 NCAA Tournament: The Wildcats defeated Princeton, 59-57, in the second round before topping West Virginia, 71-63, in the Round of 32. After that, Kentucky bested Ohio State (62-60) in the Sweet 16 and North Carolina (76-69) in the Elite Eight.
Breaking Down Connecticut (via Sports Network):
The Huskies are a young team in their own right, but the one glaring difference between them and the Wildcats is that UConn is led by one of the nation's premier veterans in junior guard Kemba Walker. The All-American was named the Bob Cousy Award winner, given annually to the top point guard in the country. There may not be a more electric player in the nation with all due respect to BYU's Jimmer Fredette. Walker is both a prolific scorer and deft distributor, averaging a hefty 23.9 points and 4.5 assists per game. Walker can also rebound (5.3 rpg) and plays tight defense (team-high 74 steals) as one of the most well-rounded backcourt players in recent memory. He is also a workhorse, logging a school-record 37.6 minutes per game. Of course, to get this far, Walker has needed help and that comes both inside and out. Perimeter support comes in the form of freshman guard Jeremy Lamb (11.1 ppg), while the dirty work down low is spearheaded by sophomore forward Alex Oriakhi (9.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg). Walker was tabbed the West Region's Most Outstanding Player and Lamb picked up All-Regional honors as well. Walker is netted 26.8 ppg in the tourney, while delivering on 91.7 percent from the free-throw line. Lamb has really elevated his game in this event, averaging 18.3 ppg and shooting a remarkable 73.3 percent from behind the arc.
Breaking Down Kentucky (via Sports Network):
A tremendous recruiter, Calipari is never short on young talent when it comes to the teams that he has led. This year is no different, as Kentucky has thrived thanks to the play of freshmen Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones. Both were tabbed All-SEC members, as well as Freshmen All-Americans. Knight has really taken center stage when the spotlight has been the brightest, averaging 20.4 ppg in 11 games against ranked opponents this season. He was named the East Region's Most Outstanding Player and enters this contest averaging 17.3 ppg. Jones has done most of his work down low. The 6-8 youngster led the SEC in rebounding and double-doubles this year and is currently averaging 15.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. A strong supporting cast comes in the form of freshman Doron Lamb (12.3 ppg), juniors Darius Miller (11.1 ppg) and DeAndre Liggins (8.8 ppg) and senior Josh Harrellson (7.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg). In the big win over the Tar Heels which propelled the Wildcats to the Final Four, it was once again Knight leading the charge, scoring a game-high 22 points, including five three-pointers. The other four starters also finished in double figures, with Harrellson and Liggins adding 12 points apiece and Miller and Jones chipping in with 11 each. The Wildcats shot .482 from the field overall, a number buoyed by a strong 12-22 showing from behind the arc (.545).
Looking Ahead: The winner of Saturday's game will face the winner of No. 11 seed VCU and No. 8 seed Butler in the 2011 NCAA national championship game on Monday night at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
Predicted Outcome (via Sports Network):
While both teams have shown chinks in the armor over the course of the season, they are clicking on all cylinders right now. This one may come down to the very end and their may not be two more clutch players in this event than Knight and Walker. Give the slight edge here to Walker, who has been here before.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 75, Kentucky 72
Final Four, Houston
No. 11 VCU vs. No. 8 Butler, 6:09 p.m., CBS (Nantz/Kellogg/Kerr/Wolfson)
No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 3 UConn, 8:49 p.m., CBS (Nantz/Kellogg/Kerr/Wolfson)
National Championship, 9 p.m., CBS (Nantz/Kellogg/Kerr/Wolfson)