The Kentucky Wildcats are national champions and "The Stack" is here to talk about the game as well as make a prediction for tonight's women's game and a few other headlines from the sports world on Monday. Now let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Tuesday, April 4:
1. Kentucky clinches championship victory over Kansas
Kentucky was the best team in college basketball in the regular season and they capped off that by being the best team in the tournament, knocking off Kansas 67-59 to win the NCAA tournament, their eighth overall. Once again, Kansas fell into a deep hole in the first half. Unlike their previous games in which they were able to rally in the second half and win, that was not going to be the case last night. Kansas head coach Bill Self said as much after thee game. Kentucky is just too good. Too athletic, too lengthy. Kentucky looked awfully sharp in the first half with Doron Lamb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrest leading the way on the offensive end and Anthony Davis leading the way on the defensive end. Lamb finished with 22 points, Kidd-Gilchrest had eleven. Fellow freshman Marques Teague came up big too with 14 points. Kansas couldn't buy shots down the stretch of the first half, in large part to Davis' presence. It seemed if he didn't block the shot he altered the shot a majority of the time. In fact, the entire Kentucky team was great on defense coming out of nowhere to block a shot on several occasions.
Kansas tried to rally in the second half, but could not cut the double digit deficit they were facing to single digits until it was almost over. Jeff Withey had an alley oop dunk go in and out. Another Jayhawk would miss a dunk shortly thereafter. With chances to cut the Wildcat lead down, Kansas would turn the ball over or take a bad shot. In some instances, the shots just simply wouldn't fall. In the back of their minds, you have to think the Jayhawks were worried about Davis and that he was right there ready to block the shot, even if he wasn't close by. Once Kansas got it to ten points and seemed to have momentum on their side, Lamb stepped up big for the Wildcats, knocking down back-to-back threes to seize momentum back and suck out most of the energy of the Jayhawks and their fans. Kansas did cut it to five with a little over 90 seconds to go in the game, but at that point, it was too little, too late. Kentucky sunk their free throws down the stretch and won the game.
For his efforts, Anthony Davis was named Most Outstanding Player (MOP) of the Final Four and had maybe the best game you could possibly have for a guy who had only 6 points and one field goal. Six points, 16 rebounds, six blocks, five assists and three steals. Not too shabby for the presumably number one overall pick in the NBA draft should he decide to come out. I'm guessing he will. He is the fourth freshman to win the MOP and the first since Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony back in 2003 in the very same building. Davis was well deserving of the award. Head coach John Calipari won his first NCAA title. He had taken three teams to the Final Four before (UMASS, Memphis and Kentucky), but this is his first championship. He avenged a loss to Bill Self's Kansas squad back in 2008 when he was with Memphis and blew a nine point lead with just over two minutes to go. There's no doubt what a great coach Calipari is. It's just whether he abides by the rules or not. Ok, low blow there, but you know there are people out there that are saying only a matter of time until sanctions come down on the Kentucky program after Calipari leaves and they'll have to vacate this championship. He may be headed for New York soon according to some. At this point though, those are just rumors.
There's no doubt this Kentucky team is among the best to have won the national championship in recent memory. The UNC teams that did it in 2004 and 2009 were very good and may be better than Kentucky, but this Wildcats team was special. If some of these players come back, particularly Davis, pencil in Kentucky for another Final Four birth and possible championship. If they don't come back, Calipari will land another solid group of freshman who will be able to do the job if they buy into the system that this team did this year. The sea of blue in the Bluegrass state is celebrating today their first championship in fourteen years. And the wait may not be quite as long next time if Calipari continues to land the recruits like he did this year.
2. Women's championship game prediction
Baylor looks to make history tonight by becoming the first team college basketball, men's or women's, to go 40-0 in a season. Brittney Griner and company have looked awfully good all year long. They will face a tough test though in Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame, back in the championship game for the second straight year. They lost to Texas A&M in the finale last year. As good as Notre Dame is and as good as they looked against Connecticut Sunday night, Baylor is just too dominant. They've been the best team all year in women's basketball and don't expect that to change tonight. Baylor has some unfinished business, a team motto for this year's tournament, left to do and they won't let Notre Dame stand in their way. Tonight, Baylor will cut down the nets as the 2011-12 national champions of women's basketball.
3. Other headlines from the sports world
The Cincinnati Reds and first baseman (1B) Joey Votto agreed to a ten-year deal worth $225 million. It's a pretty big deal and Votto better prove that he's worth it. He won MVP honors back in 2010, but a deal like this comes with expectations that he can lead to Reds to be consistent contenders in the NL Central. They'll have to battle with the Milwaukee Brewers and World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals (baseball preview Thursday), but there is no doubt that the Reds can do it. Votto is the leader on this team and combine his efforts with Jay Bruce and the rest of the team and the Reds are hoping for good things this year and in the future.
Sticking with baseball, Cleveland Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has been suspended five games for throwing at former teammate Troy Tulowitzki in Sunday's cactus league game between the Indians and Rockies. Rockies manager Jim Tracy called it one of the most gutless things he's seen in his time in baseball. It was a pretty bad thing to do for Jimenez. Just because "Tulo" told the media Jimenez should have gotten over it about being unhappy in Colorado, that gives Jimenez no right to bean him. Tulowitzki could have suffered a major injury. Fortunately, he did not.
And finally to the NFL, where commissioner Roger Goodell says he is alright with the New Orleans Saints asking Bill Parcells to coach the team. That's "their decision" according to Goodell. I still don't think Parcells will coach the team, but knowing that Goodell is most likely not going to interfere should make the Saints try harder to land the Big Tuna.
Coming up Wednesday: Reaction from sports biggest headlines and stories from Tuesday
Coming up Thursday: 2012 MLB preview
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.