2014 NCAA Tournament Final Four: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Wisconsin Badgers Live Game Thread

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

We expected to be here at the beginning of the season, didn't expect to at the end, and now we've come full circle.

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Here we are, Big Blue Nation — the moment we have all been awaiting since last weekend. Kentucky is about to play in their 16th Final Four. We have officially come full circle from pre-season expectations of at least this, to mid-season realization of how hard it would be, to end-of-regular-season thinking that UK would be "one-and-done" in the NCAA Tournament to the elation of having a chance, a realistic chance, of NCAA Tournament championship #9. We may not get there, but we can see it from here.

Tonight, we take on the Wisconsin Badgers, an outstanding basketball team that absolutely deserves to be here and will be all the opponent we will ever need tonight. Both teams have matchup issues and matchup advantages. It has all the makings of an outstanding college basketball game, and we wish our opponents all the best. May the better team prevail.

Essentials for victory

  • Offensive rebounding — Kentucky must be great on the boards on both sides of the ball.

  • Ballhandling — Ballhandling has been Kentucky's Achilles heel this season. When the Wildcats turn the ball over more than 20%, they tend to lose. Wisconsin is a team that will take advantage of turnovers if Kentucky makes them.

  • Frank Kaminsky — How Kentucky defends him, and how well he is able to perform, will inform this game to a large degree.

  • Attack the rim — If they Wildcats can attack the rim consistently, Wisconsin is likely to get into foul trouble.

  • Make open threes — Taking open threes within the offense is what has propelled the Wildcats to this exalted position. They don't have to take a lot, but they have to take some.

  • Defend the perimeter — Perimeter defense is critical against Bucky. These guys can all shoot lights-out.

  • Be as big as the moment — These are young guys, mostly freshmen. They have to rise above that tonight, and be as big as this moment.

This is going to be a tough, hard-fought game and the winner is going to be the team that can become bigger than this moment. Both teams have this capability, but it will be especially difficult for a team full of freshmen.

Having said that, we have seen Kentucky do everything they had to do in the last three games to get here. They can't stop now, and I don't think they will.

Go, 'Cats!

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