Cardinal rule: defense
When Louisville and Kentucky met earlier this season, the Cardinals held the Wildcats to 29.8 percent from the floor in a loss. Rick Pitino’s squad also held Michigan State to sub-30 percent shooting in the Sweet 16 win. The Cardinals will need a similar effort to even have a chance.
Kentucky blocked the most shots per game in the regular season, with Anthony Davis roaming the painted area. Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng is no slouch, swatting 3.2 shots per game. This game will almost certainly be decided on the perimeter. With the Wildcats’ offensive diversity, they’ve got the advantage.
Dan Wolken’s pick: Kentucky
Giving Pitino a week to prepare is dangerous, but the Wildcats just have too many weapons. Louisville is offensively challenged to begin with and will struggle to get easy baskets inside against Davis, a shot-blocking machine. Kentucky scores with much more efficiency now than when it beat Louisville 69-62 on Dec. 31.
Ohio State vs. Kansas
Saturday 8:49 p.m. ET, CBS
The line: Ohio State by 2.5
Thomas vs. Thomas
In this corner, in the red trunks, 6-foot-7 Deshaun Thomas of Ohio State. In the other corner, wearing the blues, is 6-foot-10 Thomas Robinson of Kansas. One of these heavyweight forwards will decide who heads to the national championship game. Deshaun comes in scalding hot, but Robinson will have the advantage.
Don’t look back
Like the other Final Four matchup, these two faced each other this season. But the Buckeyes, who lost, were without Jared Sullinger. The center recently said coach Thad Matta told him “this team goes as I go.” So toss that first game out and see if Sullinger can live up to weighty expectations.
Dan Wolken’s pick: Ohio State
Bill Self has done an amazing job to get Kansas to this point, but the Jayhawks are outmanned. Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft is an excellent defender and will frustrate Tyshawn Taylor into some bad decisions, leading to transition baskets for the Buckeyes. Robinson will have to come up huge against Sullinger for Kansas to have a chance.