This has been one of the most interesting NCAA Tournaments in many years. Never have both title game participants both enter the game with eight or more losses. Kentucky with 10 and Connecticut with 8 make for the most total losses by title contenders at 18. The same goes for highest combined seeds (UK-8/UConn-7). Both teams failed to play in the NCAA Tournament at all last year, although Connecticut was ineligible due to academic progress issues.
The most interesting part of this equation for us involves the Huskies. Connecticut has become the first team ever to make the Championship Game with a negative R+T rating. R+T is a statistic that we invented. It is similar to park-adjusted On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage in baseball. It is a one-for-one adjustment to the number of extra scoring opportunities a team should expect to obtain in a game due to rebounds and turnovers, but with a higher emphasis on offensive rebounds and steals, which most frequently lead to easy scoring chances.
These schools squared off in the Final Four in 2011, which just so happened to be played in the Lone Star State. Connecticut edged Kentucky by one point at Reliant Stadium in Houston. No current Kentucky player was on the 2011 roster, while three Husky players saw action in that game.
Here is our look at the starting lineups.
Kentucky—Andrew Harrison #5 6-6, 215 Fr.
Connecticut—Shabazz Napier #13 6-1, 180 Sr.
Kentucky—Aaron Harrison #2 6-6, 218 Fr.
Connecticut—Ryan Boatright #11 6-0, 168 Jr.
Kentucky—James Young #1 6-6, 215 Fr.
Connecticut—Niels Giffey #5 6-7, 205 Sr.
Kentucky—Julius Randle #30 6-9, 250 Fr.
Connecticut—DeAndre Daniels #2 6-9, 195 Jr.
Kentucky—Dakari Johnson #44 7-0, 265 Fr.
Connecticut—Phillip Nolan #0 6-10, 212 So.
Kentucky—Alex Poythress #22 6-8, 239 So.
Kentucky—Marcus Lee #00 6-9, 215 Fr.
Kentucky—Jarrod Polson #3 6-2, 182 Sr.
Kentucky-Dominique Hawkins #25 6-0, 193 Fr.
Connecticut—Lasan Kromah #20 6-6, 201 Jr.
Connecticut—Amida Brimah #35 7-0, 217 Fr.
Connecticut—Tyler Olander #10 6-10, 230 Sr.
Connecticut—Terrence Samuel #3 6-4, 190 Fr.
Here is our special statistical look at the game.
|Def Effective FG%||45.9||44.6|
|Opp. Def. Reb||768||863|
|Opp. Off. Reb||429||482|
|Opp. Reb Rate||29.8||32.9|
|Free Throw Attempts||1122||819|
|Opp. Turnover Rate||13.8||16.5|
|Free Throws Made||768||634|
|Free Throw Rate||29.5||24.7|
|Opp. FT Rate||21.8||20.1|
|R + T Rating||14.3||-1.1|
|Strength of Schedule||.5825||.5735|
|FG% Margin Score||3.54||6.13|
|Reb Rate Score||3.12||-0.59|
|TO Margin Score||-0.37||0.49|
|FT Rate Score||1.27||0.77|
|PiRate Criteria Score||7.57||6.80|