The 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship game tonight matches a 7 seed against an 8 seed. There have never been 2 teams with such low seeds, or a higher total seed number, in history. So it has to mean a Cinderella story National Champion, right? You would think that would have to be something like a Butler-George Mason title game, right?
But hold on. It's Kentucky, the pre-season #1, and Connecticut, both multi-time national champions, with 11 titles between them, including 6 in the last 18 years. The title winners 2 & 3 years ago. Two names as big in college basketball as there are in the country.
Can Big Blue or UConn EVER really be a Cinderella National Champion?
Oddly, neither even made the tournament last year. Kentucky was the first defending champion not to make it back to the tournament since the advent of at large selections, as the Wildcats were the first team out of the field of 68, having to settle for the NIT instead.
UConn was serving a year of ineligibility for falling short of NCAA Academic Success standards.
The Huskies (31-8) beat tournament top seed Florida 63-53 Saturday, and then the Wildcats (29-10) edged Wisconsin 74-73 to earn the other berth in tonight's title tussle in Arlington, TX, in "Jerry World", aka Cowboys Stadium, aka AT&T Stadium, the football stadium big enough to host the crowd a showdown of teams of this national brand power can draw, and the video screen big enough that most of those fans will actually see it.
The rest of us can catch it on CBS, at 8:10 PM CDT (6:10 PM PDT).
UConn handed the Gators 2 of the 3 losses they suffered all season. The Huskies have also never lost an NCAA Championship game, and beat the Wildcats both times they have met in past NCAA Tournaments.
Kentucky has won all 5 of their tournament games by single digit margins, something that has never happened, in either the men's or women's tournament, and a total of just 17 points. Aaron Harrison has even hit the game winning shot 3 times already in the tournament.
Speaking of the women's tournament, Connecticut will be trying for the sweep of both the men's and women's titles, as the lady Huskies (39-0) reached the Tuesday night women's title game with a 75-56 win over Pac-12 regular season champion Stanford last night.
UConn will be trying to sweep both titles for just the 4th time any school has had the chance. The Huskies are the only school that has ever sent both their teams to the title game in the same season more than once. The Huskies have one set of matched trophies, and would love to add another.
UConn is not only the defending National Champion, they have been the undisputed #1 all season.
The team that stands in their way is one Beaver fans may have caught when they came through Gill back on Dec. 29, beating the Beavers 70-58. Notre Dame (37-0) downed Maryland 87-61 to earn their trip to the title game in Nashville. It will be the first time in women's tournament history that 2 unbeaten teams have met for the title. No Cinderellas among these gals.
The Irish have also beaten the Huskies, generally the current gold standard in women's hoops. 7 of the last 9 times they have met, but UConn is 8-0 all-time in title games.
The game will be at 8:30 PM EDT (5:30 PM PDT), on ESPN.
Both games should be good for at least 40 shining moments.