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NCAA Tournament final: Kentucky vs. U-Conn.

Live coverage and analysis of the 2014 NCAA Tournament championship game.

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Kentucky fan takes his famous tattoo to big game

The giant scoreboard at AT&T Stadium makes for a surreal scene as Chris Daughtry sings the national anthem Saturday. (Bob Dannon / USA Today)

The giant scoreboard at AT&T Stadium makes for a surreal scene as Chris Daughtry sings the national anthem Saturday. (Bob Dannon / USA Today)

Plenty of people laughed and mocked Tyler Austin Black when he dared to get a tattoo a month ago. Now, though, he’s only a few hours away from one great big “told you so.”

In mid-March, about the time the Kentucky Wildcats were being seeded eighth in the NCAA tournament and had lost three of their final four regular-season games, Black dared to proclaim “2014 NATI9NAL CHAMPIONS UK” in blue ink on his right leg with the “9″ signifying what would be Kentucky’s ninth national title if it can beat Connecticute tonight in the national championship game.

Black has become a national story and headed for North Texas for the big game and can only hope that, unlike the Wildcats’ last three games, this one doesn’t come down to a late shot by Aaron Harrison.

“I’ve always had confidence in them, but I ain’t gonna lie, they’ve had me worried here lately,” Black told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “It’s very surreal. It’s wild. And seeing us win the type of games we’ve been winning, every one of them nail-biters, it almost feels like it’s destiny for us to win a championship.”

 

Cindy Boren
April 7, 7:00 pm
  • Cindy Boren April 7, 7:00 pm

Darius Rucker tunes up

Kentucky fans and players celebrate after guard Aaron Harrison made a three-point basket in the final seconds against Wisconsin to win the game 74-73 during their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Somewhere down there, Darius Rucker will sing the national anthem. (David J. Phillip / AP)

Darius Rucker gets used to the scene on the floor at AT&T Stadium — JerryWorld — as he rehearses the national anthem.

Cindy Boren
April 7, 7:18 pm
  • Cindy Boren April 7, 7:18 pm

There's booze -- and a lot of it -- on the line

(Courtesy Kentucky Distillers' Association)

(Courtesy Kentucky Distillers’ Association)

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy have a friendly little wager, the kind politicians do all the time, on tonight’s game and they’ve both opted to put hooch on the line.

Malloy is wagering wine from the Jones Family Farms in Shelton and beer from Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford (along with some chocolates from Munson’s) while Beshear is going all out with the hard stuff. He’s put up Kentucky’s finest distilled beverages from Woodford Reserve, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, Bulleit Bourbon, Four Roses, Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Town Branch, Willett, Old Pogue, Michter’s and Corsair Bourbon.

The Kentucky Distillers’ Association will also provide “barware, glasses, apparel and accessories to conduct a priceless bourbon tasting,” according to a statement from Beshear’s office.

Cindy Boren
April 7, 7:34 pm
  • Cindy Boren April 7, 7:34 pm

There's a lot of money on the line...for the coaches

Looking for a rooting interest ahead of tonight’s national championship game between Connecticut and Kentucky? Well, this little tidbit might help you decide whether to go with John Calipari or Kevin Ollie:

Cindy Boren
April 7, 7:46 pm
  • Cindy Boren April 7, 7:46 pm

A Gampel gathering in Storrs

In Storrs, Conn., students are congregating at Gampel Pavilion to watch the national championship game and exchange pleasantries.

This is just what one dorm’s resident adviser — who would seem to have a future in NFL administration — suggested, according to a NSFW tweet from a UConn student found by The Big Lead.

(via Twitter)

(via Twitter)

Cindy Boren
April 7, 8:20 pm
  • Cindy Boren April 7, 8:20 pm

This guy...

(David J. Phillip / AP)

(David J. Phillip / AP)

Words fail.

Cindy Boren
April 7, 8:22 pm
  • Cindy Boren April 7, 8:22 pm

Three stats to watch for Connecticut-Kentucky

Keep an eye on these three categories for the championship game:

1. Kentucky’s offensive rebounding percentage: The Wildcats rank second nationally in this category, according to analyst Ken Pomeroy, gathering 42.3 percent of their misses. Though Willie Cauley-Stein (12.6 percent) is hurt, Dakari Johnson (17.3 percent, unqualified for national rank) and Julius Randle (13.7 percent, 39th nationally, per KenPom) will use their strength to crash the boards and create second looks. Connecticut, on the other hand, is among the nation’s bottom third in defensive rebounding percentage.

2. Connecticut’s free-throw percentage: Perhaps the Huskies’ biggest strength, they are shooting 86.7 percent from the stripe during this NCAA tournament run, including a blistering 41 for 44 against Iowa State and Michigan State. Their players, top to bottom, have proved unflappable, even in late-game situations, an attribute, Dan Wetzel explained, that came from Steve Nash.

3. Aaron Harrison’s shooting percentage: The freshman has been sensational at the buzzer, hitting game-winners in Kentucky’s last three victories, but Aaron Harrison will encounter his greatest test yet in Connecticut in-house pest Ryan Boatright. Boatright held Florida’s Scott Wilbekin to two field goals forced three turnovers this past weekend during the Final Four. In the game before that, he checked Keith Appling of Michigan State, allowing only two points in that matchup. Over the past four games, the shooting guard twin Harrison has shot 12 for 22 on three-pointers. Look for Boatright to smother him early.

Alex Prewitt
April 7, 8:23 pm
  • Alex Prewitt April 7, 8:23 pm

Rex Chapman on John Calipari's future

Kentucky head coach John Calipari works from the sideline against Wisconsin during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

John Calipari to the Lakers would be very big news. (David J. Phillip / AP)

Rex Chapman, who played at Kentucky and in the NBA, believes that Kentucky Coach John Calipari is going to head to Los Angeles to coach the Lakers when the college hoops season ends tonight.

Cindy Boren
April 7, 8:41 pm
  • Cindy Boren April 7, 8:41 pm

Kentucky's Julius Randle struggling during warmups

Or so it would seem.

Alex Prewitt
April 7, 8:53 pm
  • Alex Prewitt April 7, 8:53 pm

Tonight's burning question

Former president Bill Clinton is in the house at JerryWorld and got a personal tour from Jerry Jones himself.

Cindy Boren
April 7, 8:59 pm
  • Cindy Boren April 7, 8:59 pm
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