After an action-packed, highly intense 2014 NCAA tournament, the Final Four is now set.
The four Elite Eight matchups featured some of the best basketball that we've seen this year. If those contests give any indication as to how the Final Four games will shake out, we are in for a thrilling ride.
If you predicted Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Kentucky to reach this stage of the tournament on your March Madness bracket, you've certainly done well for yourself. This year has been full of upset wins and Cinderella stories—more of which are yet to come.
All Your Bracket Essentials
Clear your schedule and make time to take in the Final Four action—you won't regret it. Let's take an early look at predictions for each game and all of their essential viewing information.
Final Four Schedule
|Date||Team 1||Team 2||Time (ET)||TV Info|
|Sat, April 5||No. 1 Florida||No. 7 Connecticut||6:09 p.m.||TBS, TNT, TruTV|
|Sat, April 5||No. 2 Wisconsin||No. 8 Kentucky||8:49 p.m.||TBS, TNT, TruTV|
All of the Final Four action can be live-streamed on NCAA.com.
Final Four Predictions
|Team 1||Team 2||Pick|
|No. 1 Florida||No. 7 Connecticut||Florida|
|No. 2 Wisconsin||No. 8 Kentucky||Kentucky|
Sean O'Donnell's Predictions
If you don't remember the last time that Florida and Connecticut faced off, here's a refresher:
Shabazz Napier drilled a buzzer-beating jumper to take down the Gators on December 2 of last year. That was the last time Florida lost.
Napier enters the matchup on fire, as he torched a stout Michigan State defense to the tune of 25 points, going 6-of-14 from the field and 9-of-9 from the foul line. He helped the Huskies pull away late in the game to seal a Final Four berth.
This time around, Florida will be out for revenge, and the team's third-ranked defense will give Napier his biggest challenge yet.
The Gators are on the nation's biggest hot streak, winning 30 consecutive games. Scottie Wilbekin and Co. continue to play solid, fundamental team basketball on both ends of the court.
Even when Florida's offense begins to struggle, its defense holds strong. The Gators have a combination of size and strength that is not easy to match. The Dayton Flyers found that out the hard way, as Patric Young and Co. out-rebounded the Cinderella team 37-26 in their Elite Eight contest.
Expect Florida to bring a huge amount of aggression in the paint in its Final Four game against the Huskies—who were out-rebounded 32-30 in the Elite Eight by Michigan State.
This game should come down to the bitter end—just as it did last time around—however, it will be the Gators who emerge victorious in north Texas.
The Final Four's second game should be incredibly intriguing as well. No. 2 Wisconsin takes on No. 8 Kentucky in a battle between two very well-rounded teams.
Early money on Kentucky, up to -2 over Wisconsin— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) March 30, 2014
Wisconsin has a very stout defense but rode its offense through most of the NCAA tournament. The Badgers demolished American in Round 2 by a score of 75-35, defeated Oregon in Round 3 85-77 and Baylor in the Sweet 16 69-52.
However, the Badgers met their match in the Elite Eight against top-ranked Arizona. Wisconsin emerged victorious by the skin of its teeth in a 64-63 overtime thriller.
The team's latest victory was all Frank Kaminsky. He scored 28 points in the win over Arizona—only Traevon Jackson also reached double-digit points with 10.
That will be the downfall of the Badgers in the Final Four.
Four different Kentucky players put up double-digit points against Michigan on Sunday. Julius Randle led the way with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while James Young, Aaron Harrison and Marcus Lee each had at least 10 points.
This was all without Willie Cauley-Stein on the floor.
The depth and chemistry that Kentucky has going right now is unparalleled. The Wildcats are extremely well-versed on offense and can dominate in the paint as well as from the perimeter. They dominate the boards with ease as well—Kentucky out-rebounded Michigan 35-24.
Kentucky and Connecticut beat 3 Top-4 seeds to get to the Final 4. Only teams to do that before them- 1986 LSU, 2000 Florida, 2011 Butler— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 30, 2014
With all of this in mind, it becomes rather difficult to go against the No. 8 seed here.
All of these factors will play a part in Kentucky's trip to the finals.