Unless you graduated from UConn or knew nothing about the bracket going into the tournament, odds are you didn’t have UConn going all the way. Led by now Miami Heat point guard, Shabazz Napier, the Huskies rolled over every team that they were supposed to lose to. Having to face Kentucky in the NCAA Championship last season was no easy task for the Huskies, but now as the game is just a few hours away, the question is if Notre Dame could possibly pull off the same stunt that UConn did to move on to the Final Four. Between their star player, Jerian Grant, and a handful of dominant shooters and offensive threats, Notre Dame could be the first team of the season to beat Kentucky, and end their run for a 40-0 season.
Jerian Grant is the equivalent of last season’s Shabazz Napier. He is an offensive weapon from anywhere on the floor, and has the ability to lead his team past any opponent, no matter who they are. He is also an athletic freak, and can defy gravity at times with some of his high flying plays. Despite the highly touted Kentucky defense, it will be extremely hard to try to contain Grant. Like Napier of last season, Grant is close to impossible to guard, and finds away to attack even if there isn’t an open space for him to shoot or drive. One of the Harrison twins, or Devin Booker will be the unfortunate soul who is left to guard this offensive mastermind during the duration of the game tonight, and even though all three candidates for the job are tremendous players, Grant will be a new level of difficulty for them. Arguably the most talented player that Kentucky has had to guard this season would be Marcus Paige for North Carolina, or Terry Rozier for Louisville; and while both are great players, neither has quite the consistent abilities of Grant.
The shooting ability for Notre Dame is also another area of concern if you are a Kentucky fan. The Fighting Irish went 9-19 from deep in their last game against Wichita State, and are one of the top teams in the nation in terms of shooting it from deep. Demetrius Jackson is a player to watch for the Irish, as his scoring abilities combined with his exceptional speed resemble that of Ryan Boatright from the Huskie squad from a year ago. The duo of Grant and Jackson is lethal, and then combined with the shooters on the perimeter in Steve Vasturia and Pat Connaughton, the Irish make a compelling argument for a team that could potentially bring down the Goliath of the college basketball realm due to their resemblance to the UConn squad that did it last season in the National Championship game.
Although they don’t have the height or depth that is needed to beat Kentucky (look at: Recipe for Success Against Kentucky), the Fighting Irish show signs of promise against the obvious favorite for the NCAA tournament in the Kentucky Wildcats.