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Armstrong: Keys to the NCAA Tournament final

Jack Armstrong
4/7/2014 1:18:50 PM
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NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - THE KEYS:

I can't wait for the game tonight and what should be an outstanding finish to what has been an entertaining NCAA Tournament to say the least.

You can catch all of the action live tonight at 8:30pm et/5:30pm pt on TSN with the pre-game show before the 9:10pm et/6:10pm pt tip-off.

Here are 3 Keys for each team.  Enjoy!

UCONN KEYS:

1. DOMINATE THE GUARD PLAY: Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright have been terrific so far in the tournament. Their ability to take you out of your comfort level with their tenacious defense and their ability to create and make their own shots is big. They are more experienced and, in my opinion, as talented, if not more talented, than the Harrison twins - they must dominate this match-up and frustrate the young guards.

2. REBOUNDING: Kentucky is +9 per game in the Tournament on the boards. That is a huge disparity and a big part of Kentucky's game is the second or third shot per offensive trip. UConn must neutralize this or they'll be in trouble. This is not one of UConn's strengths. but they've got to find a way to win the 50/50 battles and be physical. With the Wildcats, UConn is giving up lots of size inside.

3. DeANDRE DANIELS: After averaging 20 points and nine boards in his last three games, Daniels has to continue to be that versatilebig man for the Huskies inside and use his shot-making ability while facing the basket. He's a tough cover and his ability to make the three-ball and lure you away from the hoop can take the Kentucky big out of their comfort zone a bit. They did a wonderful job stopping Wisconsin's big man, Frank Kaminsky, with lots of attention. Daniels has to pick his spots, yet has to assert his game early and establish the fact that he's a guy getting lots of touches and attract the double team to open things up for teammates.

KENTUCKY KEYS:

1. LATE SHOT CLOCK & GAME CLOCK SITUATIONS: The Wildcats have really impressed me with their discipline and poise in the tight situations. Decision-making with the ball and the types of plays and shots they've been getting have been much improved over the early part of the season. They've been excellent at being organized and fundamentally sound on defence with a great attention to detail as the game progresses. They must continue to be sound on both sides of the ball.

2. TURNOVER MARGIN: Take care of the rock. That's what it comes down to. Kentucky has been really steady in this regard and helped prevent run outs against their defence. They are a very good half-court defensive team that has the quickness, athleticism, size and length to frustrate opponents. You get folks into that type of game and then grind them. UConn's guards want to run and create chances in open space. The fewer turnovers, the more the style of play favours you.

3. MARCUS LEE / JULIUS RANDLE / JAMES YOUNG: Energy, offensive rebounds, blocks, deflections, post scoring effort plays and paint domination are major areas that these, among many of the Kentucky young front court players, can get the upper hand over the Huskies. Beat them to the punch and be the better front court. 




Golfer Taylor Pendrith is the highest ranked player on Canada's men's national team. The recent graduate of Kent State University is 18th on the world amateur rankings. More...

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