The significance of this Saturday's Final Four matchup between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals has been dissected endlessly. If you haven't quite figured out how significant the intra-state battle is, SB Nation bloggers at Kentucky blog A Sea Of Blue and Louisville blog Card Chronicle are more than happy to oblige you. While heads have been clashing all over the state, there will still be a game played on the court, determined by real 20-somethings with really different skill sets.
The Wildcats should be the clear favorites based on talent alone. They earned the NCAA tournament's top overall after compiling a 32-2 record through the regular season and the conference tournament. They are stacked with NBA-caliber talent at practically every spot on the floor, though freshman Anthony Davis has earned the most headlines for his 6-foot-10 frame and freakish athletic ability. He is averaging 14.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this season, and is in line to clean up once postseason awards are doled out.
He draws one of the toughest defensive matchups in the country, however. Louisville's 6-foot-11 center Gorgui Dieng has been dominant inside throughout the tournament. Against the Michigan St. Spartans in the Sweet 16, he recorded seven blocked shots and helped hold Big Ten Player of the Year Draymond Green to just 5-of-16 shooting from the floor.
Though the Cardinals have been excellent defensively, the Florida Gators proved they could be beaten on the perimeter. The Gators shot 8-for-20 from 3-point range to open up the paint for Erik Murphy and Patric Young inside. Kentucky's Doron Lamb has proven he can both penetrate from the perimeter and hit from long range (47.1 percent from 3-point land for the season), which could make him a nightmare to defend. It will be up to Louisville guards Chris Smith and Russ Smith, both of whom have been spotty scorers throughout the year, to keep pace.