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Kentucky vs. Kansas: Previewing Three Crucial Matchups

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If John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats are the ultimate Goliath, than Bill Self's Kansas Jayhawks are the greatest David of all time. Despite the 6.5-point spread that Vegas laid on Monday night's national championship game, the affair is a battle between two of college basketball's elite, blue-blood programs. Kentucky is loaded with a bundle of future first-round picks, including the potential first and second overall selections in June's NBA Draft, while Kansas -- aside from AP Player of the Year Runner-Up Thomas Robinson -- is littered with a bevy of very good, if not spectacular, players. Let us take a look at the three crucial matchups heading into the final.

Jeff Withey vs. Anthony Davis

If Self maintains the philosophy he used against Ohio State when he put Withey on Jared Sullinger, he will once again use his seven-foot block artist on the opposition's best player. Withey -- who has 27 blocked shots in the tournament thus far and is just two away from Joakim Noah's all-time record -- leads the country by blocking 15 percent of opponents' 2-point attempts while on the court, according to KenPom. Davis meanwhile, is an improving low-post scorer but a far better defender. Entering the Final Four, he'd kept 99 of his 175 blocks in play, per ESPN Stats & Info, and Kentucky had scored 101 points off those possessions. Basically, if Withey can help neutralize this matchup against the Naismith and AP Player of the Year, Kansas is capable of pulling out the upset.

Tyshawn Taylor vs. Marquis Teague

Point guard play usually dictates basketball games, especially in a title game, when room for error becomes miniscule. In the case of Taylor, a senior, and Teague, a freshman, both are highly capable and highly volatile, and their performances in the national semifinals were perfect examples of such. Teague started off 3-3 from the floor, setting the pace for Calipari. In an instant though, he committed two quick turnovers against the Louisville press, showing his inexperience and vulnerability. Taylor, meanwhile, made two clutch free throws to help seal the game, then came up with an incredible steal, only to throw the ball away for no reason. The other similarity of note is that both are exceptional in the open floor and not afraid to take big shots -- especially Taylor, who has made a career out of it.

Thomas Robinson vs. Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

While Robinson's quick feet and dexterity around the basket and in the open floor were clear advantages against Sullinger, they won't be against Jones and Kidd-Gilchrist, two forwards with tremendous length and superior feet. MKG typically guards the perimeter, but at a chiseled six-foot-seven, he has been tasked by Calipari to defend the interior at times, as well. He is the one guy on the Kentucky roster who matches Robinson's sheer strength and athleticism. As a result, look for Kansas to use a barrage of both screen-and-roll and straight post-ups with T-Rob, who is very comfortable stepping away from the basket out to 16-feet. The junior All-American has had a terrific tournament, having outscored the highly touted North Carolina big men and out-performed Sullinger. Against Kentucky in November though, it was clear that he looked pedestrian, scoring just 11 points on 5-12 shooting while being bothered by the Wildcats' freakish length and size at the rim.

Email me at jordan.schultz@huffingtonpost.com or ask me questions about anything sports-related @206Child.

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