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Every Single Damn Thing You Need To Get The Juices Flowing For The National Title Game

Alright, last game of the year. I know, I know. A lot of Calipari talk, but yes, a still title game blog will be happening. It's the matchup most people wanted to see. The storylines are easy and plenty, we know all about Edey vs Clingan and UConn going back-to-back. It makes sense, that's what happens when some of the things talked about all year in college basketball meet in the title game. Either way, I just want a good game. I need a good game. Last year's title game stunk, it happens. We can't have two in a row. 

Bracket

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Most important players on each team tonight not named Zach Edey or Donovan Clingan

Braden Smith (Purdue) - Two things are true here. Braden Smith is good and Braden Smith stunk in the Final Four. You can't beat UConn is Braden Smith doesn't score until the last couple minutes of the game. He needs to be the 2nd option and can't be a guy who dribbles the ball off his foot for a backcourt violation. We know what UConn's defense is like, we know how they can score, Smith has to give UConn some sort of problems. 

Stephon Castle (UConn) - Alabama dared Castle to beat them and he did. They started the game basically playing 5v4. They barely put a guy on Castle, he hit a couple shots and got UConn going early. Purdue won't be as obvious about it, but doubles will come from his guy, they'll dare him to shoot vs the others out there for UConn. If he hits 1 or 2 threes early, he's a completely different player. It also helps that he's, you know, a lottery pick. You have a talent like that and he can win you a title. 

Storylines, Previews, Breakdowns

1. Donovan Clingan minutes - The biggest difference arguably between Clingan and Edey is the fact Edey has been playing 38 minutes or so while UConn can rest Clingan. I don't know if that can happen tonight if the game is close. Johnson is fine off the bench, but what Clingan is doing on rim defense is why he has to be out there. You don't need to send a double. You can let Clingan protect the rim and match Edey with the size. Obviously the question is can Clingan do it for 30+ minutes? He's played at least 30 minutes just 3 times this season. Something to monitor. 

2. Guards vs guards - While everyone will talk about Clingan vs Edey, how does Purdue handle the UConn guards. UConn has the size advantage with Lance Jones probably having to take Castle. Either way Newton/Castle could have 4 inches or so on the guy guarding them. What I assume Hurley will do is just use a million screens, both on and off ball. They'll try to confuse Purdue and then exploit whatever mismatch they see. It's where Hurley is a fucking monster at when it comes to scheme. 

3. UConn's 3-point shooting - It's sort of weird that UConn is just beating the everliving shit out of teams and not really shooting well. They finally did against Alabama, but that's also Alabama's defense. I know the ball is a problem and water always finds its level. They don't have to shoot lights out by any means, but they are a 36% shooting team. Gotta get close to that and just let everything else go the way it is. 

4. Purdue's 4 spot - I'm fascinated by what the hell Painter does here. He went to a 6-man rotation in the 2nd half against NC State just bringing in Mason Gillis. He'll run the 3 guard and Edey into the ground. But there's a big difference in TKR vs Gillis. You add shooting with Gillis. You add the experience. But TKR is a guy who can be physical with UConn and maybe wall up Karaban on his drives, something Karaban is underrated at. 

5. History vs Big 10 Drought - We know about the loss to a 16 seed followed up by winning the thing. But the Big 10 drought can finally end here. It's been 25 years and they've had plenty of teams in the title game. Sorry Titus. On the flip side, we could see just a dominant 2-year run. Until Saturday they had a 30-point lead in every NCAA Tournament game. If they win a second Tournament in a row by double digits, we're going to have a real talk about where they fall in a dominant standpoint. Purdue can finally get that banner, Edey finishes off one of the best individual seasons with the NPOY and leading Purdue to a title. It's what it should be. Hurley was right that this game is great for college basketball fans and it's because we have the two teams everyone thought would be here to start the year. 

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Picks

All odds via DraftKings 

I'm basically only rooting for a close game here. I know UConn is fucking awesome and there are ways to look at this. I don't want to pick against them, mostly because all they do is cover. But everyone feels like they are just handing UConn the trophy. I get it. Honestly we need a clean game. Get the refs out of the way and let us just watch these guys play basketball. I can't do one last ref talk on the biggest stage. 

19-14-1 so far in the NCAA Tournament, +3.7 units 

UConn to win by 6-10 +330

UConn -3.5 1st half

Over 144.5



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