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NEW ORLEANS — It has all come down to this – the two most storied programs in college basketball history are set to meet on Monday night in the Superdome for the NCAA men’s basketball championship.

The underdog Kansas Jayhawks (32-6, 16-2 Big 12), coming off an emotional, come-from-behind 64-62 win in the Final Four semifinals against Ohio State are set to take on the Kentucky Wildcats (37-2, 16-0 SEC), whose lineup includes several sure-fire NBA draft picks and which handled bitter in-state rival Louisville 69-61 to reach the championship game.

The Wildcats are a 6 1/2 point favorite over the Jayhawks, according to a number of Las Vegas sports books.

The two programs are arguably the two premier hoops programs in the nation – certainly among the most storied. Both Kentucky head coach John Calipari and Kansas head coach Bill Self started their coaching careers in Kansas. Both worked for former KU head coach Larry Brown at different times in the 1980’s, as Calipari was a KU assistant from 1982-85, while Self actually replaced Calipari on the KU bench as an assistant from 1985-86.

But the connections between the schools actually goes much deeper. Legendary Kentucky head coach Adolph Rupp was a Kansas graduate who played for equally legendary KU head coach Phog Allen. Rupp won four NCAA championships during his long career in Kentucky (1930-72), and like Allen at KU, Rupp’s name is attached to the Wildcat’s home, Rupp Arena.

The Kansas Jayhawks are second on the all-time win list in NCAA Division 1 with 2,070 wins against 805 losses. Kentucky is No. 1 on the all-time NCAA Division 1 win list with an overall record of 2089–649.

On the court, the Jayhawks and Wildcats are both strong defensively – Kentucky is No. 1 in the nation in field goal percentage defense, while the Jayhawks are No. 2. Kentucky’s freshman Naismith Award winner Anthony Davis and KU junior guard Jeff Withey are first and second, respectively, in the nation in blocking shots.

But the Wildcats are equally impressive on the offensive side, shooting 50 percent or better in four of their five NCAA tournament games. They are led by the 6’10” Davis, who averaged a team-high 14.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.6 blocked shots per game heading into Monday’s championship matchup. Sophomore guard Doron Lamb is adding 13.5 points a game for the Wildcats – including hitting 83 percent from the free throw line, and freshman forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is adding 7.5 rebounds a game.

The Jayhawks, looking for their fourth overall national championship and second in the last four years, are led by junior forward Thomas Robinson – a runner-up to Davis for the Naismith Award – who is averaging 16.4 points and 11.6 rebounds on the season. Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor leads the Jayhawks in scoring, averaging 17.3 points per game, while Withey is second on the team with 6.3 rebounds per game.

On the coaching front, Monday’s championship game is a rematch of sorts between Calipari and Self, who on Sunday was named the 2012 Naismith Men’s College Basketball Coach of the Year. In 2008, Calipari led the Memphis Tigers to the NCAA championship game against Self’s Jayhawks but lost 75-68. The Memphis Tigers were then penalized by the NCAA for rules violations, and forced to vacate their Final Four appearance.

Calipari has led three teams to the Final Four (UMass, Memphis and Kentucky), but has yet to win a national championship.

Self has a 476-157 record as a head coach (269–52 at KU), with stops at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and finally Kansas in 2003. Since coming to Lawrence, Self has led the Jayhawks to at least a share of the Big 12 regular season championship eight times in nine years, and the 2008 NCAA national championship.

The two teams played earlier this season in the State Farm Champions Classic on November 15th at Madison Square Garden in New York, with the Wildcats pulling out a 75-65 victory.

Click here to see pictures of  KU in New Orleans.