Kentucky (33-2) vs. Syracuse (29-8) Scouting report

April 01, 1996|By Ken Murray

What: NCAA national championship

Where: Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, N.J.

When: Today, 9: 22 p.m.

Line: Kentucky by 14

Key matchups: The best matchups are inside, where Kentucky's Antoine Walker will guard John Wallace and the Wildcats' Walter McCarty will go against Otis Hill. Because Syracuse has two good post players, it will be harder for Kentucky to double down on defense. Another key will be how much damage Kentucky can do inside against Syracuse's 2-3 zone.

Why Kentucky can win: Because of its superior depth and the confidence it gained with a close win over UMass. The Wildcats have too many weapons to be thrown out of rhythm easily. Their press should take its toll on Syracuse in turnovers or fatigue.

Why Syracuse can win: Because the Orangemen are the ultimate underdogs who, coincidentally, are better than they're given credit for being. Chemistry is big with Syracuse, and the team has peaked at the optimum time. Wallace leads a cast of very strong role players, from point guard Lazarus Sims to center Hill.

Bottom line: The Wildcats all believe it's their destiny to win the title. So beating UMass should not precipitate the letdown some expect. The key for Syracuse is to disrupt the Wildcats with its zone defense and force hurried shots. Kentucky must avoid the aberration -- poor shooting, a tepid press or foul trouble -- to reach its season-long goal. Barring those things, the 17-year title drought in Lexington should end.

Pub Date: 4/01/96

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