The 2012 NCAA men's basketball championship game is taking place today (Mon. April 2, 2012) from the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La., featuring the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats and the Kansas Jayhawks.
MMAmania.com will provide live updates of the NCAA men's basketball championship game, which is scheduled to begin at 9:23 p.m. ET on CBS. Yes, we know it's not mixed martial arts (MMA), but as we've learned over the years, there is considerable sports overlap among our audience.
Here's where you can discuss college basketball's biggest event of there with all the other Maniacs, as well as chat about anything else (within reason) that suits you're fancy. Just no more WrestleMania!
Kentucky has been considered the best team in the country just about all year. And the squad has proved it in this tournament, defeating everyone in their path soundly, including top teams like Indiana, Baylor and most recently Louisville, to advance to the finals.
Kansas, meanwhile, has had to scratch and claw its way to the title game, barely scraping by the likes of Purdue and North Carolina State before scoring some seriously impressive victories over North Carolina and Ohio State to make it to the championship game.
Live updates and coverage of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball championship game after the jump, beginning around 9:30 p.m. ET:
KENTUCKY WILDCATS VS. KANSAS JAYHAWKS
Kansas got the proverbial ball rolling in this match-up of historic programs when they won the opening tip and attacked the paint early on. Tyshawn Taylor drew first blood with a drive past Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a sweet finish.
On the very next possession, Jeff Withey blocked his first shot of the night, establishing the fact that Anthony Davis was not going to be the only player swatting basketballs into the bleachers tonight.
After the first couple of minutes, both teams look to have shaken off some of the early jitters and the offenses are starting to execute with precision.
The defense has been scrappy, to say the least, which was exhibited when Kidd-Gilchrist took a very hard foul during a drive to the hole. At first, his shoulder appeared to be hurt, but he has since made a full recovery.
The tempo has been fast and furious, which certainly should favor Kentucky. Kansas is sticking in there with them, and at the first break, the score is currently Kentucky 13, Kansas 9.
Coming out of the break, the Wildcats went on a 14-4 run and really took control of the momentum. The play remains very physical and, for the most part, the referees are letting a lot of contact go.
So far, the pace of play continues to favor Kentucky.
Notable stats: Kansas Center Jeff Withey and Kentucky Center Anthony Davis are both leading the way with two blocked shots each. Doron Lamb is leading all scorers in the game with six points.
Current score: Kentucky 23, Kansas 14 with 10:46 left in the first half.
They say basketball games are won in the paint and on the boards. So far, the scoreboard reflects that. Kentucky holds a 15-8 advantage in the rebounding department, as well as a 5-2 lead in blocked shots (three of those have come courtesy of Mr. Davis).
Kentucky is leading the way, 31-19, with 7:13 to go in the half number one.
After starting off cold from behind the arc, the Wildcats have hit their last two outside shots, coming by way of Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague. Everything just seems to be going Kentucky's way.
Current score: Kentucky 34, Kansas 19 with 5:12 to go in the first half.
The story continues to be about the boards in this one, as Kentucky holds a 21-14 edge in that category at the half. Another important sub-story has been the fact that Kansas has had no answer at all for Doron Lamb, who has really been able to get to the rack any time he's wanted to.
Kansas has had their fair share of comeback wins this year, so it's hard to count them out. However, right now, they look like a defeated team. They've been outworked in every aspect, and it looks like they're ready to go home.
Here are the key performers at the half:
Lamb -- 12 pts, 1 reb, 2 ast
Kidd-Gilchrist -- 11 pts, 5 reb, 1 ast
Davis -- 0 pts, 9 reb, 4 ast, 3 blk
Robinson -- 8 pts, 6 reb
Thomas -- 8 pts, 1 reb, 2 blk
Withey -- 5 pts, 5 reb, 1 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk
HALFTIME SCORE -- KENTUCKY 41, KANSAS 27
Kansas has been able to cut into the lead a little bit, and they've done it by playing scrappy defense in the interior and hitting the boards a little harder.
With that said, it's still been nearly impossible for them to get within anything less than double-digits. Kentucky just looks better everywhere. They're so deep, and when one player is off, there's always someone there to pick him up.
The Jayhawks have done themselves no great favors either, as they've missed some very key layups in the early going, punctuated by a bricked dunk by Withey that really should have been an easy throw-down.
Nothing has been easy for Kansas, thus far, as they continue to fight from behind.
Current score: Kentucky 43, Kansas 30, with 15:30 to go in the second half.
This game continues to go back and forth between looking like an ugly runaway beating, and appearing to show Kansas as a team capable of scratching and clawing their way back into the game.
Kansas has been able to do a little bit better of a job getting buckets in transition. Kentucky has made six turnovers in this half already, but they've not been able to finish off steals at as high a clip as they're going to need to if they want to make a serious run.
Withey has done a solid job of disrupting things defensively, in the lane, but he's not getting a lot of help from the perimeter defenders, particularly in keeping their men off the boards.
Robinson looks to be picking up some steam, which would spell trouble for Kentucky if he really gets warm.
Current score: Kentucky 48, Kansas 38, with 11:49 to go in the second half.
Kansas had cut the lead to two points and was threatening to get themselves right back in the game behind the leadership of Robinson.
But Lamb was simply unwilling to let his team let off the accelerator, scoring several baskets in a row to push the lead back up to 14.
As it currently stands, Lamb has 20 pts and is 10-14 from the floor (additionally going 3-4 from the charity stripe).
Current score: Kentucky 56, Kansas 41, with 8:28 left in the second half.
The best way I know how to describe it is that it feels like there are six or seven Kentucky players on the floor at all times, and Kansas has the standard five.
Every time there's a loose ball, multiple white jerseys are there to swarm and gobble up possession. Kansas looks overwhelmed, but, truth be told, they've looked that way most of this game.
The Jayhawks are rapidly running our of time and will need to do something drastic soon if they want to have any chance of winning this championship game.
Current score: Kentucky 59, Kansas 44, with 5:01 left in the second half.
Kansas has gone on a very impressive 8-0 run, which was stopped by an ice-cold three pointer from Teague. Kansas' Elijah Johnson was not impressed, promptly answering with a three of his own.
After a drive , being fouled and nailing two free throws, Robinson has brought the Jayhawks within five points. Anthony Davis was failed shortly after and was able to hit one of two free throws.
Current score: Kentucky 63, Kansas 57, with 1:11 left in the game.
Kudos to Kansas for a battling to the very end. Sadly, it was not to be. Congratulations to the Kentucky Wildcats -- Your 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions!
FINAL SCORE: KENTUCKY 67, KANSAS 59