Four remain in the 2014 Big Dance.
Half are shockers (not of the Wichita State variety). Shabazz Napier and the Connecticut Huskies are the obvious Cinderella, although a young and suddenly mentally mature Kentucky squad qualifies, too.
Half are obvious. Florida has bulldozed its way through the opposition, while Wisconsin has realized its potential and is firing on all cylinders.
Here is a look at the details surrounding the Final Four, followed by a breakdown of both matchups.
|2014 Final Four|
|4/5/14||Florida (-7) vs. UConn||6:09 p.m.||TBS||Florida|
|4/5/14||Wisconsin vs. Kentucky (-2.5)||8:49 p.m.||TBS||Kentucky|
|NCAA. Odds via Vegas Insider|
Note: Odds info courtesy of Vegas Insider.
Florida (-7) vs. UConn
The struggle for Florida is real. The Gators have two losses on the season, and they came against very interesting opponents, as ESPN points out:
Apparently Vegas didn't get the memo.
When UConn took down Florida back in December, Napier scored a game-high 26 and beat the buzzer to secure the 65-64 win. That's been about par for the course for Napier this tournament, as he just dropped 25 on Michigan State in the Elite Eight and has scored a minimum of 19 points in each tournament game.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie praised Napier after the game for his epic performance, according to The Associated Press (via ESPN):
"Shabazz was phenomenal. When we needed the big shot he hit it. When we needed the big play he made it. ... He is one of the big-time players to wear the jersey and walk on the floor at Gampel Pavilion."
Florida will once again struggle mightily with Napier, but don't expect the rematch to be as close. This time, the Gators come in on a roll and won't struggle nearly as much on a neutral court. There, the Gators won't turn the ball over 16 times and only shoot 33.3 percent from long distance.
Prediction: Florida 66, UConn 63
Wisconsin vs. Kentucky (-2.5)
As if the globe needed a reminder, seeds mean very, very little, as captured by Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated:
Kentucky was hit with a low seed after a disappointing campaign marred by inexperience, but kudos goes to John Calipari for getting the mental side of things down for his young team. The Wildcats are once again a force—and just in time—as they have to deal with Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky.
Kaminsky is a pro-ready force who posted 28 points in the Badgers' upset of Arizona in the Elite Eight, but Kentucky has the perfect counter with Julius Randle. CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb concurs:
Randle, who has simply bullied the opposition all tournament, can negate Kaminsky. That will do much to exploit a weakness for the Badgers as they struggle to keep up with Kentucky's athleticism on the outside.
The likes of Aaron and Andrew Harrison will have plenty of room to work on the outside as Kentucky's offense continues its roll. If Michigan's Nik Stauskas couldn't finish off the Wildcats, no guard play from Wisconsin will at a neutral site.
Prediction: Kentucky 75, Wisconsin 68
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