The Kentucky Wildcats and Kansas Jayhawks will play in the NCAA title game on Monday night in New Orleans.
Kentucky coach John Calipari oozes confidence, but do you think that, deep down inside, he felt like kicking something after Kansas came back to defeat Ohio State in the second semifinal?
After all, seeing Bill Self at the other side of the scorer’s table on Monday night can’t help but remind him of the national championship game in 2008:
After Mario Chalmers’ three-pointer sent the game into overtime, Kansas captured the title with a 75-68 win.
Calipari has returned to the national final loaded for bear with a collection of talent that puts the 2007-2008 Memphis team to shame, even though that team included a future NBA MVP in Derrick Rose and two second-round NBA picks in Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joey Dorsey. (Guard Antonio Anderson also had a brief stretch in the league.)
Calipari got the better of Self earlier this season, when the Wildcats knocked off the Jayhawks 75-65 at Madison Square Garden on November 15. That game was the first time that the coaches had squared off since the 2008 title game (Kansas defeated Memphis 57-55 on November 17, 2009, but Calipari had departed for Kentucky).
One way or the other, history will repeat itself on Monday night. Kentucky fans can hope that the game in New Orleans ends the same way as the game in the Garden four months ago, while Jayhawk supporters will hope that the spirit of Mario Chalmers is in the building to help Kansas again deny Calipari a national title.