ARLINGTON — Monday's NCAA Championship game will feature two teams that are no strangers to winning national titles. Kentucky will be trying to win their ninth championship; Connecticut is trying to win its fourth.
No matter which team wins, Connecticut and Kentucky will have claimed three out of the last four championships and seven out of the last 19.
"I expect this next game to be the same kind of war we have just been through," Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. "From LSU — unbelievable team &mdash... to Georgia — unbelievable team... to Florida. You know how good they are. Kansas State, Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan, Wisconsin, and now we got Connecticut. It's nuts. And we're still standing, which is great."
Connecticut is just the third No. 7 seed to reach the title game since the field was expanded in 1985, and the first time that a seven seed will play an eight seed in the title game. A seven seed has played an eight seed only once, before and that was in 2000, when Tulsa — a seven seed — lost a regional final to eighth-seeded North Carolina.
"They did a remarkable job shooting the ball, especially in the dome," Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie said. "I don't know if it's a record, but shooting 55 percent in the dome might be a record. We want to compete one more night and play one more 40 full on the offensive end and the defensive end."
Kentucky has now beaten three of last year's Final Four teams. They also have now won four straight games by five points or fewer in one tournament. That has never been done before.
"Well, there's two parts of this," Calipari said. "One: When we get down 10, it's amazing how we play. We're not real good up 10. But for some reason, down 10, they grow hair on their neck. And all of a sudden they're like, 'Who are these guys?'"
Kentucky's coach added that his team has an unbelievable will to win as the clock ticks down. "Part of that has come from how they have been treated all season," he said. "They have been ridiculed, criticized."
"Well, we feel like we have been doubted the whole season, definitely heading into the tournament when people didn't have us winning the first game," Connecticut forward DeAndre Daniels said. "That's what drives us, and everybody just is going out there. When people say that, we like to go out and try to prove people wrong and let them know that UConn's back on top."
Kentucky forward Julius Randle, who played high school basketball at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, says his team has more to prove.
"I'm definitely not satisfied,” Randle said. “We have one more game to go. We have been through a lot this year, and we deserve to reward ourselves and go out there and play hard and give it all we got. So definitely, not satisfied.”