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By Tom Fink
1) Encore Performances – Both of these matchups occurred earlier this year. Will Kansas and Kentucky come out victorious again or has Ohio State and Louisville figured out a way to beat their opponent based on their first match-ups earlier this season?
2) Next Door Neighbors – The Battle of the Bluegrass features a rematch of Louisville and the University of Kentucky. Two schools, just 75 miles apart down Route 64. The hatred between the fan bases and the teams will undoubtedly provide a great game.
3) Big 12 vs. B1G – Two of the conferences that were primarily responsible for nationwide conference realignment pit their champions against each other in the Final Four. Will Kansas or Ohio State prove to be the better squad?
4) Back For Another Round – Rick Pitino has been here before, in fact this is his 6th Final Four with his 3rd different school. Will his experience be enough to help his Louisville team beat the Wildcats (one of his former employers with whom he went to back to back National Title Games in ’96 and ’97)?
5) National Recognition – Anthony Davis has already been awarded, whether officially or not, every conceivable award for being the best player in the nation this season. But a Championship is what it will take to put him, his teammates and Coach Cal over the top.
6) Equal Opportunity – Kansas and Ohio State haven’t been getting as much attention due to the in-state rivalry being played out in the earlier game. Be sure to give them a chance on Saturday night as these two teams can play some excellent basketball and shouldn’t be overlooked.
7) Fan on Fan Crimes – The Louisville and Kentucky fans have been going at it all week. Tune in to see if any of the die-hards get too intense in the stands at the game.
8) Tyshawn Taylor – The Jayhawks Point Guard wasn’t highly sought after coming out of high school, but with his play in the tournament is probably making a lot of coaches question their recruiting methods.
9) Nantz and Kellogg – These guys can talk basketball, and since Clark’s son and the Ohio Bobcats are out of the tourney, he won’t be distracted during the Final Four. They should call a great game.
10) Jonesing For More – Terrence Jones is one of the few guys on Kentucky who isn’t a freshman. He came back to school to win a title and there is now way he is going to go down without a fight this close to the National Championship.
11) Hopeful Followings – Ohio State lost to Kansas without Jared Sullinger and Louisville fell to Kentucky because they sent the Wildcats to the foul line 40+ times. So both teams feel they have a much better shot this time around.
12) Lack of Front Court Depth – Kansas is pretty thin after Withey and Robinson, expect the Buckeyes to win if one of the Jayhawk big men gets into foul trouble.
13) Peyton Siva – The Point Guard for Louisville will determine how close the game is against UK. The team will go as he goes and if he plays the way he did vs. Michigan State the Cardinals don’t stand a chance.
14) Scoring Shortage – Kansas has had some trouble putting up a ton of points in the tournament, until last game against UNC, if they don’t clear the low sixties they won’t beat the Buckeyes.
15) Buckeye Baskets – Ohio State has scored 73 or more in each of their tournament games thanks to Aaron Craft, Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Deshaun Thomas. If they keep scoring at this rate, they’ll be playing for the title.
16) Collapsing Calipari – Coach Cal has been to the Final Four three other occasions. He’s never won the big one. Will this be the year or will Kentucky add to his resume of coming up short in the big games.
17) Tie Breaker – Louisville and Kentucky have split their tournament series 2-2 thus far. This big game will not only add to the rivalry but give one team the edge in March Madness match-ups against the other.
18) #1 vs. #2 – Kentucky is the second best team in the country when it comes to offensive efficiency and Louisville is tops as far as defensive efficiency goes. Which team’s strength will prevail?
19) Not Kidding – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may be a freshman but he’s been playing like a man possessed. Even if you hate these teams you should tune in to watch the Small Forward continue his fabulous tournament.
20) Fond Farewells – With a lot of potential lottery picks on these four teams, tune in to see what could be the last games for a lot of great college players.
1) C Gorgui Dieng (Louisville/Soph.) – Rick Pitino will need a big game out of the young man from Senegal if the Cardinals stand a chance against the Wildcats. Be sure to watch to see how he does against Anthony Davis and the rest of Kentucky’s big men.
2) F Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State/Soph.) – Deshaun has been leading the Buckeyes through March Madness with consistent scoring and rebounding. If he continues to perform at this rate Kansas could be in trouble.