After Sunday’s win over Baylor, ¿Michael Kidd-Gilchrist wasn’t worried about being named the most outstanding player in the NCAA Tournament South Region.¿Instead, he was icing his right elbow and thinking ahead to the Final Four — and possible national championship
“It has been wonderful here, but I¿am not finished yet,” said Kidd-Gilchrist. “I want to go out on top.”
What about the elbow that he hurt late in the game?
“It is all good. Just icing it,” he said. “It’s not the first time I’ve had to do that, or ice my knees. It hurts a lot, but it will be fine. I will be ready for that next game.”
That “next game” is against Louisville on Saturday in the Final Four in New Orleans.
“It is a great team they have there, but it is just another game,” Kidd-Gilchrist said.
Kidd-Gilchrist went into the South Region having scored just 16 points in the three previous games. He had 24 points against Indiana and 19 against Baylor, including 17 in the first half before foul trouble limited his time.
When UK¿beat Louisville 69-62 on Dec. 31, Kidd-Gilchrist had his best UK game — 24 points and 19 rebounds, both career highs.
“Of course,¿I want to play well again, but whatever happens, happens. I just want to get the win,” Kidd-Gilchrist said.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Monday that Kidd-Gilchrist will “be a fun player to watch for years to come” because of his intensity.
“He was that way in high school when I watched him play. I have never seen too many high school players play every possession like they are down 10 points like he does,” Pitino said. “He is unique. He is one of my favorite players to watch because he plays so hard. He was spectacular in our game. I am sure he is a fun kid to coach. He is a fun young man to watch on tape.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari says Kidd-Gilchrist is like a “middle linebacker coming at you and he’s nimble” with his play.
“He can move the ball around,” the Kentucky coach said.
Calipari says fouls sometimes are not called when Kidd-Gilchrist goes inside “because he can bust through and still score” despite the contact.
“He’s a terrific free throw shooter. In zone, he gets to gaps and has done good things. He’s a good enough 3-point shooter that you’ve got to guard him,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “More importantly, he and Anthony (Davis) ... Anthony takes the fifth most shots on the team and Michael fourth. They just play, block shots and defend. They are unselfish offensively. That’s what makes them unique.”
Favoring UK: Nevada casinos still have No. 1 Kentucky as the favorite to win the national title. Odds by the Nevada casinos show Kentucky has a 52 percent shot at the title gambling expert RJ Bell of Pregame.com told The Associated Press.
Casinos believe Ohio State has a 25 percent chance, Kansas a 15 percent chance and Louisville an eight percent chance, Bell said.
Cantor Gaming, which operates six sports books in Las Vegas and shares its lines with the vast majority of Nevada’s 186 sports books, made Kentucky a 9.5-point favorite over Louisville and Ohio State a 3-point favorite over Kansas for Saturday’s semifinals.
Kentucky’s odds over Louisville are the widest gap between two teams in a semifinal matchup since 1999, Bell said.
Bell said 17 of 27 champions have been No. 1 seeds since 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams.
Officials say that of 5.1 million brackets filled out on CBSSports.com, just over four million — nearly 79 percent — picked Kentucky to get to the Final Four. More than 43 percent picked the Wildcats to win the title.