HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02: Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies celebrates after defeating the Kentucky Wildcats during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Don't for a second tell me you saw this coming. You know, the one where Butler and UConn square off for the national title.
Back on February 4th, to be exact, the Bulldogs had lost three straight in the Horizon League. It was a winter swoon. Meanwhile the Huskies, despite an exceptional start to the season, were taking their bumps as well. They had lost two in a row, and were a measly 5-4 in the Big East, with wins against middling teams like Rutgers and South Florida.
At that time, neither looked like championship contenders, but since then we've learned to expect the unexpected in college basketball, and never ever underestimate Kemba Frieken Walker.
Led once again by "the best player in America," the Huskies advanced to the national championship game with a 56-55 victory over Kentucky, absolved from a few late game blunders via excellent defensive stops.
Walker admitted to being tired during the game, and it showed in the few bouts of lazyness and poor decision making exhibited at times in the game. Despite this, he still led all scorers with 18 points, and did it in the lane and from beyond the arc. He has become a prime example of why it can be cool to stick around college for more than one or two seasons. A bit player as a freshman, then a talented but sometimes befuddling sophomore, Walker emerged this season as a savvy junior who saw his NBA stock rise like no other. This sort of improvement just cannot occur at the end of a bench watching multi-millionaires get their run.
But while we all gush over the offensive game of Walker, and the emergence of freshman Jeremy Lamb, it was the defense that truly helped the Huskies advance. The Wildcats shot only 34 percent last night, and Brandon Knight was cooled by a smothering performance by UConn's backcourt. Most importantly, he was unable to get off the final shot of the game, instead being forced to defer to DeAndre Liggins who took a contested three that fell off the mark.
I've been wrong a few times about both of these teams, most notably about the Huskies way back in November when they won the Maui Invitational, but I have a hard time thinking Kemba and Kids will be denied on Monday night. Winners of their last ten - five at Madison Square Garden and five at three venues hosting this year's NCAA Tournament - UConn has come too far to have the final chapter to their season not provide a happy ending, especially at the hands of a mid-major.
You can go root for David to try and shock the world for the second consecutive season. I'll take Goliath to cut down the nets, and cap off a historic run that concludes this wacky season.