Previewing the Final Four: Louisville vs. Kentucky

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This is the game that we all wanted.

Kentucky and Louisville. Heated rivals. In-state rivals. The hype machine heading into this game will be full effect. The storylines are endless. The message board chatter will be priceless. The atmosphere at the Superdome will be pure insanity. It will be a great show.

But you know who didn’t want this?

John Calipari.

He knows what’s riding on it. He knows the importance of this game to Kentucky fans. He knows the pressure that is going to be on his team. This is the biggest game in Kentucky basketball in recent memory. The only loss that would be more devastating for Kentucky fans would be the 1992 loss to Duke in the Elite Eight. You think that’s what he wanted to have to deal with when he takes a group of freshmen and sophomore to the Final Four?

Key Matchup: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Louisville’s bread and butter is their 2-3 zone, which means that, if everything goes according to plan, that there won’t be just one player responsible for slowing down Kentucky’s most dangerous weapon. But that doesn’t change the fact that Louisville doesn’t have anyone on their roster that can matchup with MKG athletically. He’s the most dangerous player in the country in transition. Slowing him down will be key if Louisville wants to spring the upset.

X-Factor: Peyton Siva vs. Marquis Teague: Siva is the most important player on the Louisville roster. He is their best playmaker on the team and the guy who has the ball in his hands at the end of a clock. He’s also their best on-ball defender, one the keys to the press that the Cardinals run. Marquis Teague is also very influential for the Wildcats. It isn’t a coincidence that the Wildcats went from very good to borderline unbeatable as Teague went from a freshman point guard to a talented lead guard.

Best Story Line: Coach Cal vs. Pitino: Rick Pitino is a legend in Kentucky, the head coach that dug the Wildcats out of the issues they had stemming from the Eddie Sutton era. Coach Cal if the legend that dug them out of the Billy Gillispie era. And Cal is still looking for the elusive national title that will lift him into the same category as the other legends currently coaching. You don’t think it would hurt to have a former Kentucky legend coaching Kentucky’s rival end his bid at a national title with the best team he’s ever had?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.