Three Keys To Reaching the Final Four

Andrew Cassadyover 6 years


Aritcle written by:Andrew CassadyAndrew Cassady


For the fifth time in six years under John Calipari the Cats are back in the elite eight with a trip to the Final Four on the line. This time the Cats face Notre Dame, a team that upset Nerlens and Willie back in the 2012 when the two teams met last. What will the Cats need to do in order to avoid that same fate? Here are my three keys to beating the Irish and reaching the final four: 1. Wear Them Out. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="601"] Jerian Grant Is Averaging 39 minutes per game in March (VIA Fansided)[/caption] So far in the NCAA Tournament the Fighting Irish are playing basically their starting lineup for the entire game. Reserves Bonzie Colson and VJ Beachem have averaged 10 and 5 minutes respectively during these three games which equates to a whole bunch of minutes logged for the starting five over three games. Notre Dame star Jerian Grant has yet to go to the bench. That gives the 8-deep Cats a chance to bring relentless defense and take the deep shooting Irish legs out from under them. Plus with Karl-Anthony Towns only playing 13 minutes against WVU  the big man should have fresh legs to dominate ND down low. 2. Crush Them On the Glass. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="600"] The big men should have a field day against the Leprechauns  (Credit: Getty Images / Gregory Shamus)[/caption] Notre Dame does a lot of things well. They score in bunches. They move the ball exceptionally. They shoot over 51% from the floor. But the one thing they don't do well is rebound. The Irish rank 250th in the nation with 32.8 rebounds per contest and rely on 6'5 combo forward Pat Connaughton to shoulder much of that load. What is he going to do against 7 foot Willie Cauley-Stein?  Or even 6'9 Marcus Lee? Notre Dame's starting five goes 6'1, 6'5, 6'5, 6'5, and 6'10 and as I've mentioned they basically play the entire game. The Cats go 6'6, 6'6, 6'10, 7'0, and 6'11 with solid rebounders in Lee, Johnson, Booker, and Ulis coming off the bench. The Cats should dominate the glass and get plenty of opportunities for second chance points. 3. Stem the Tide As I mentioned, the fighting Irish like to score in bunches. In the ACC Championship game the Tarheels had taken a 64-56 lead with 9:21 to go when ND decided to turn it on. A three here, a steal there, and a 15-0 run buried the Tarheels in just over three minutes making it 64-71. The Irish never trailed again. Last night they used two surges, including one 38-18 run, to keep Wichita State at bay. Kentucky will need to avoid the floodgates collapsing and match ND blow for blow as they attempt to make in runs in the game. Basketball is often an game of momentum. The Cats will need to control the tides to cruise to another easy win.   What do you think the Cats will need to focus on in order to reach a second straight final four?    

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