For starters, how wildly unpredictable is the NCAA tournament? Sure, we saw two big time programs face off for the championship on Monday night -- but you didn't have this in your bracket. A tournament this crazy deserves an entertaining championship game, and we got one.
UConn came out of the gates hot, opening up a fifteen-point lead at one point in the first half. Kentucky battled back, as they always seem to, making it only a four-point game at the break. At that point you just had to know we were in for a good second half.
Kentucky kept it close the entire time, narrowing UConn's lead down to as little as one, but was never able to take the lead. Free-throw shooting was a major concern for John Calapari's youngsters, and potentially cost them the game. The Wildcats shot 13-for-24 at the stripe, compared to the Huskies perfect 10-for-10 -- experience certainly played a role in that aspect of the game.
As we have been accustomed to, Shabazz Napier led Kevin Ollie's team with 22 points, six boards, three assists and three thefts. If Kentucky had one thing atop their "to do list" in this game, it was to try and slow down Napier, and they failed to do so. Ryan Boatright and Niels Giffey both finished in double-figures with 14 and 10 points respectively.
Although scouts do not weigh too heavily on March Madness, Napier has clearly helped his draft stock in this tournament. He came in as a projected mid-second-rounder . . . I would be shocked if he is not now considered a mid-first-round type of talent. Plenty of time for scouts to work him out in their own gyms and think otherwise, but there is no way Napier now slides past 30 teams. Depending on how the Celtics' backcourt shakes out, Napier would be a nice pick to get with the draft pick they acquired from Brooklyn.
James Young was the only Wildcat that really stood out, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds -- including a LOUD flush over seemingly the entire UConn team that you can see below. Young also shot 8-for-9 from the free-throw line as well, just to put in perspective how poor the rest of the team shot.
Julius Randle was quiet much of the game, attempting only seven shots and playing in short stints on the court at times. He totaled only 10 points and six rebounds in the game, most were expecting a much larger effort from Randle on the big stage. At the same time, keep in mind that this kid is 18-years-old. This poor outing will do nothing to change his draft stock, assuming he leaves school. Randle remains a surefire top-five pick.
So that's it folks! The college season has come to a close, but as Celtics fans we still have a lot in front of us even before draft day. We are still waiting on decisions from players like Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid on if they will even declare for the draft, we have the draft combine in Chicago, and of course the lottery to keep our fingers crossed for on May 20th. Stay tuned.
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