UConn vs. Kentucky
April 6, 2014
By Brian Edwards
Two schools remain standing from the 68-team field for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Kentucky, the No. 8 seed from the Midwest Region, has won four consecutive nail-biters in come-from-behind fashion. Connecticut took out the Tournament's No. 1 overall seed on Saturday to advance to Monday's finals against UK.
As of Sunday night, most betting shops had Kentucky (29-10 straight up, 19-15-3 against the spread) listed as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 134.5. UK is -150 on the money line, while gamblers can take UConn to win outright for a +130 return (risk $100 to win $130).
Some books have posted adjusted lines. For instance, bettors can take Connecticut (31-8 SU, 22-15 ATS) at -3.5 for a +200 payout. On the flip side, Kentucky can be had at -7.5 for a +200 return (risk $100 to win $200).
For those bullish on the 'under,' you can maximize your profit by taking 'under' 128.5 for a +160 payout. The 'over' is available at 139.5 for a +145 return.
The 'over/under' for Kentucky's total points is 69, while UConn's is 66.5.
Kevin Ollie has his team playing for the national title in just his second season as a head coach. UConn overcame a 16-4 deficit 12 minutes into its national-semifinal showdown versus Florida, but it ran off 11 straight points and eventually took a 25-22 advantage into halftime.
Behind 20 points and 10 rebounds from DeAndre Daniels, UConn pulled away to beat the Gators by a 63-53 count as a seven-point underdog. The Huskies hooked up money-line supporters with a payout in the +280 range. They ended UF's 30-game winning streak and improved to 7-1 in national-semifinal games.
Shabazz Napier added 12 points, six assists, four steals and three rebounds, while Ryan Boatright contributed 13 points, six boards and three assists.
The Gators sliced the deficit to 53-47 on a Patric Young dunk with just over four minutes remaining, but UConn responded with a 6-0 run to put the game on ice.
Kentucky's last four wins over Wichita St., Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin might be the four best games of the Tournament. On Saturday in Arlington, UK captured a 74-73 win as a one-point 'chalk' thanks to Aaron Harrison's game-winning 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds remaining.
This was a back-and-forth slugfest from the opening jump. An early 10-0 Wisconsin run was the key to it leading 40-36 at intermission. After Sam Dekker buried a 3-pointer to open the second half, James Young scored six points to spark a 15-0 run that gave UK a 51-43 advantage at the under-16 television timeout.
The Badgers responded with a 15-4 surge to take a 58-55 lead. Neither team could get any separation the rest of the way. The 147 combined points jumped 'over' the 138-point total.
Young scored a game-high 17 points for the winners. Julius Randle finished with 16 points and five rebounds, while Dakari Johnson was also in double figures with 10 points and seven boards. Alex Poythress made all four of his shots from the field, finishing with eight points and seven boards.
Poythress injured his knee during the post-game celebration, but he is expected to be fine. However, Willie Cauley Stein, who averages 6.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game and has a team-best 106 blocked shots, has been ruled 'out' vs. UConn. Cauley-Stein has missed back-to-back games after spraining his ankle in the first half of a Sweet 16 win over U of L.
UK has won seven of its last eight games with the only loss coming by one point against Florida. The 'Cats are 7-0-1 ATS in their last eight outings. They are 8-4-2 in 14 previous games as single-digit favorites.
UConn has been an underdog 11 times this year, compiling a 7-4 spread record with six outright victories.
The 'over' has hit in four consecutive games for UK, but the 'under' still maintains a 19-16-1 overall record.
The 'under' has been a major money maker in UConn games all year long, going 23-13 overall.
CBS will have television coverage Monday night for the 9:10 p.m. Eastern tip.
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