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Experts make their Final Four and national title picks

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A roundup of what the experts are saying about Kentucky in the Big Dance.

Drew Brown - Sea of Blue

With the NCAA Tournament First Four games underway and the real fun starting on Thursday, college basketball experts from every network are sharing their predictions for what they think will happen in the Big Dance.

For most of the predictions, it’s the same teams but with varying results. The Kentucky Wildcats at least make the Elite Eight, and there’s a lot of predictions for them beating the North Carolina Tar Heels to reach the Final Four.

Then there’s a strong chance Kentucky would face either the Tennessee Volunteers or Virginia Cavaliers in the Final Four, then the Duke Blue Devils in the title game if the Cats make it that far.

  • Dick Vitale: Kentucky beats North Carolina in the Elite Eight, but loses to Tennessee in the Final Four.
  • Jay Williams: Kentucky beats North Carolina in the Elite Eight, Tennessee in the Final Four, and Duke in the final game to win their 9th National Championship.
  • Seth Greenberg: Kentucky beats North Carolina in the Elite Eight and Virginia in the Final Four, but loses to Duke in the National Championship.
  • Jay Bilas: Kentucky loses to North Carolina in the Elite Eight.
  • Rece Davis: Kentucky loses to North Carolina in the Elite Eight.
  • Seth Davis has Kentucky beating North Carolina in the Elite Eight, Purdue in the Final Four and losing to Duke in the title game.
  • Mike DeCourcy: Kentucky loses to Duke in the title game.
  • Joe Lunardi: Kentucky loses to North Carolina in the Elite Eight.
  • Andy Katz: Kentucky loses to North Carolina in the Elite Eight.
  • Jeff Goodman: Kentucky beats Kansas in the Elite Eight, but loses to Virginia in the Final Four.
  • Jerry Palm has Kentucky beating North Carolina to make the Final Four but losing to Tennessee in the Final Four.
  • FiveThirtyEight gives Kentucky a 47% chance of making the Elite Eight, a 24% chance of making the Final Four, an 11% chance of making the title game and a 5% chance of winning it all.

It says a lot that these experts all have Kentucky going to the Elite Eight, a round further than last year. Bilas, Davis, Lunardi, and Katz all have Kentucky losing there to North Carolina. The Tar Heels are a much improved team since the Wildcats last saw them earlier this year, but I’m sure nothing would be sweeter to BBN than to beat Roy Williams’ group and end Luke Maye’s career after the shot he made in 2017’s Elite Eight.

Jeff Goodman is the only one who has the Wildcats facing a team other than UNC. Goodman has us playing Kansas, a below average Bill Self team who Kentucky already beat this season. The intriguing part of that would be that our regional final would be in Kansas City, which would give an important home court advantage to the Jayhawks.

Dickie V. has UK making the Final Four, but losing to Tennessee for the third time. It’s not outside the realm of possibility, but the Volunteers may struggle to make it to the second weekend let alone the Final Four with the way their matchups could turn out. Goodman has Kentucky beating Kansas, but losing to Virginia in their first game in Minneapolis. Virginia is a strong defensive group that can shoot the lights out and share the ball, but UK would have a distinct advantage in the front court. The Cavaliers have always found a way to mess it up before the national semifinals, but they are the most likely scenario if the bracket hold true.

Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams are both expecting the best out of Kentucky as both have them in their National Championship game against Duke. Greenberg has UK losing while Williams has them winning.

After the 34-point loss to the Blue Devils in the Champions Classic to start the year, some fans would question why we’d want to see them again. The Wildcats are a much improved team on both sides of the ball and with the way Duke struggles to shoot the ball at times could very easily be their downfall.

If taking out Luke Maye would be amazing, then taking out Zion in the National Championship with how the first matchup went would be icing on the cake of their 9th National Championship. The only negative would be that Jay Williams struggled to make the right picks throughout the season on College GameDay, but Big Blue Nation will take what they can get.

Regardless of whatever matchup, no matter where it is or who it’s against, Kentucky has turned themselves into a legitimate contender.

With their improved defense and shot making, Kentucky has come into form at the right time and are a real threat not only to the Commonwealth, but to the experts as well.