No. 1 Fairfield Prep (24-2) vs. No. 2 Hillhouse (25-1)
WHAT: Class LL boys basketball final
WHEN: Saturday, 8:15
WHERE: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville
ROAD TO FINAL: Fairfield Prep: bye; beat No. 17 Newington 75-38; beat No. 9 Ridgefield 63-42; beat No. 5 East Hartford 78-75; Hillhouse: bye; beat No. 18 Manchester 65-48; beat No. 10 Bridgeport Central 74-49; beat No. 19 Xavier 57-34.
CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Fairfield Prep: 2 (most recent 1997, Class LL); Hillhouse: 21 (most recent 2007, Class LL)
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Fairfield Prep: Jr. C Paschal Chukwu; Sr. F Tim Butala; Soph. G Tommy Nolan; Fr. G Ryan Murphy; Hillhouse: Sr. G Andre Anderson; Sr. G Bobby Bynum Jr. Sr. C Chaise Daniels; Jr. F Raiquan Clark.
SKINNY: These teams' three combined losses are to each other. ¦ Hillhouse is the SCC champion, beating Prep in the final. ¦ Chukwu won a Class M title while at Trinity Catholic in 2011. ¦ Hillhouse led last year's Class LL final at the half, eventually losing to St. Joseph 62-54. ¦ Prep is 67-13 during Leo Redgate's three-year tenure as head coach. ¦ Neither team has eclipsed the 60-point plateau against each other this season.
OUTLOOK: Round IV of this super heavyweight Class LL rivalry gets prime billing Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun. These teams know each other inside and out, so surprises will be few and far between. It might come down to, as boring as it sounds, whichever side executes better and makes fewer mistakes. If there's an area where one team has a decided advantage, it's depth. Renard Sutton's rotation for the Academics runs 10 deep, while in their semifinals win over East Hartford, the Jesuits mostly played six players. If Prep's backcourt can handle the pressure from Hillhouse and not turn it over near midcourt, this one should go right down the to wire. If the Jesuits get double digits from senior shooter Dave Zielinski off the bench it also bodes well. Keep an eye on how closely the refs call the game on 7-foot Chukwu. He's the one player Prep can't replace.
PREDICTION: Hillhouse 54, Fairfield Prep 50