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Gruen’s pick: UConn will prevail despite Kentucky’s athleticism

Updated: April 6, 2014 10:14PM

ARLINGTON, Texas—Walk a tight rope too many times you’ll eventually fall, right?

Kentucky seems to be bucking that trend, with the nonsensical heroics of freshman Aaron Harrison. The Wildcats have won three of their last four games by three points or less.

And when they play Connecticut for the national championship on Monday, they’ll be in another dogfight. Only there isn’t a team more prepared for a slugfest than UConn and that’s why I’m picking them.

The gushing over Kentucky’s talent has gotten old. But everything about it holds true. They’re loaded with the kind of NBA talent no one else in the country can claim and playing equally as well as UConn.

But here’s the rub: the NBA Draft has never been more focused on potential.

The Wildcats players aren’t polished products yet. And their inexperience is the chief reason why they’ve played so many close games. It’s the only logical explanation for a team with that kind of athletic talent. Teams that play close games don’t win them all.

Their inexperience has shown through in every tournament game—only no one wants to talk about it when they win. Hyperbole is more the order when you see Harrison nail back-to-back game-winning threes.

But UConn has the players more ready for this type of game. UConn’s Shabazz Napier is the best player—not pro prospect—who will take the floor Monday night. The Huskies are as good a free-throw shooting team in the tournament field. And trust me, this game will come down—in some way—to that.

DeAndre Daniels can match Kentucky’s athleticism. The Huskies lanky forward will do enough to disrupt Kentucky shots in the paint and force the Wildcats to settle for outside jumpers.

This game will be close throughout. And the team most experienced in keeping its balance is UConn.

Final score: UConn 70, Kentucky 68


Twitter: @sethgruen

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