KENTUCKY (34-4) IS THE favorite because it has been in this game the previous two years and appears to have the more explosive team. Utah (30-3) is the underdog because that is its role.

The Utes have come to the right town: Here in 1836, 189 men held off 4,000 Mexican soldiers for 13 days before losing their lives and the Alamo. Utah has a much better chance than Davy Crockett, Col. Travis and their comraeds.- Rick Jerardi, Philadelphia Daily News

THIS MADDEST OF MARCH Madness tournaments deserves a fitting climax.

Triple overtime with an 80-foot basket at the buzzer would do it when Kentucky and Utah meet tonight for the NCAA championship.

From first round to Final Four, this tournament has been special, one of the greatest ever, filled with overtime games, buzzer beaters and surprises from the likes of Valparaiso and Rhode Island, Stanford and Utah.

And with two teams that know each other well, one with a grudge to settle, the other with a reputation to uphold, the chances are good for combustible chemistry.

- Steve Wilstein, Associated Press

DON'T WALK AROUND today thinking you caught a break Saturday night when Utah dismissed North Carolina. You might have caught a shark in a flimsy net. You might have caught three nights of bad sleep and six months of mild heartache. You might have caught deja vu.

Utah should be a slight favorite on Monday night at the Alamodome. Kentucky should be a slight underdog. The only reasons Utah won't be the favorite and Kentucky won't be the underdog are reputation, image, legacy, history and glamour, none of which has anything to do with this particular game. The Utes will have to serve as "official" underdog only because we, the people of the United States, require time to catch up to excellent new entities like these Utes.

It's a little like Arizona last year. Nobody knew those Wildcats were the best team until they were standing in the RCA Dome holding up the trophy, and you looked back across the bracketscape and said, "My, that was the best team." Nobody knew they were that much quicker than Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky until they got through with Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. Just like Arizona then, Utah now has defeated North Carolina (by a score almost identical).

- Chuck Culpepper, Lexington Herald-Leader

LET'S MAKE ONE POINT perfectly clear. Monday night's NCAA championship game between Kentucky and Utah isn't going to be about human highlight reels. There will be few, if any, monster jams, alley-oops, 360-degree dunks or no-look passes. There are no Antawn Jamisons or Miles Simons in either lineup.

But if you like a good bounce pass or a nice screen - and if it's rebounding and defense that make your day - pull up a chair. This could be your game.

Kentucky and Utah, the sole survivors in the 64-team tournament, don't have rosters filled with stars or sure-thing No. 1 draft picks. Both are built on balance, team play and almost equal distribution of the ball.

If it sounds boring and bad for TV, that's only because viewers have grown accustomed to seeing the spectacular plays that usually make the late-night news.

- Michael Martinez, San Jose Mercury News