You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who had a bracket with the Florida Gators, UConn Huskies, Kentucky Wildcats and Wisconsin Badgers in their Final Four.
Somehow, that's the reality, and honest fans must admit the journey to the AT&T Center in Arlington, Texas has been a thrilling ride—even if your team bit the dust before expected.
The weekend's regional finals were all hoops fans could have wanted and more.
Three of the four games were nail-biters and even Florida only beat the upstart Dayton Flyers by 10. We can only hope the national semifinals bring us as much excitement.
Here's the schedule for Semifinal Saturday, viewing information and predictions.
|Time (EDT)||Matchup||TV||Live Stream||Predictions|
|6:09 p.m.||(7) Connecticut vs (1) Florida||TBS||March Madness Live||Florida|
|8:49 p.m.||(8) Kentucky vs (2) Wisconsin||TBS||March Madness Live||Kentucky|
All Your Bracket Essentials
Florida vs. UConn
Key Players to Watch
Scottie Wilbekin, Florida
Florida is a team without a true superstar but not without a leader.
While senior Patric Young is certainly the catalyst for the team's stifling defense on the inside, Wilbekin has asserted himself as the engineer on offense.
He takes and makes big shots like this buzzer-beater before the half against Dayton on Saturday.
He's averaging 18 points per game over the last two contests. Wilbekin has also taken great care of the ball. Check out this unbelievable stat from ESPN Stats and Info:
Scottie Wilbekin has not committed a turnover in his last 94 minutes on the court.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 30, 2014
When a college point guard is playing like this, it's impressive.
Shabazz Napier, UConn
College hoops purists should be eagerly awaiting the Wilbekin-Napier matchup. Napier's skills off the dribble against Wilbekin's solid one-on-one defense will be a treat.
Napier has done it all for UConn this season. Nothing has changed in the tournament.
He's averaging 23.2 points per game in the Huskies' four tournament games. Throw in the six rebounds and 4.5 assists per game he's averaging, and you have a prime candidate for all-tournament honors.
Why Florida Will Win
The Huskies did hand Florida its last loss before the Gators started their current 30-game win streak. That was back on December 2. Both teams have improved since then, but the Gators are simply deeper and better.
Their defense is suffocating, having held all but one of their last five opponents under 60 points and 40 percent shooting from the field.
The Gators will force someone besides Napier to beat them, and the Huskies will fall short.
Wisconsin vs. Kentucky
Key Players to Watch
Julius Randle, Kentucky
Randle's maturation is perhaps the most significant of all the grown-up Wildcats.
Earlier in the season, he was rumbling into the lane and wasn't recognizing converging defenses. Now, he's playing unselfishly and his dominance creates openings for Kentucky's shooters.
He may not get the assist, but his kick-out is often the first pass that leads to an open shot.
When he gets to keep the rock, he's been a beast. Randle's 16-point, 11-rebound performance against Michigan on Sunday was his fourth straight double-double in the tournament.
He is the toughest individual matchup and top pro prospect remaining in the tournament.
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
Though he's not quick, Kaminsky is seven feet tall and he has a feathery touch from deep. He made three of five attempts from three-point range against Arizona.
The size and shooting combination can make him a difficult matchup for opponents. His presence was the most significant in the regional final.
Kaminsky's 28-point, 11-rebound game was one of the best individual performances of the tournament.
Why Kentucky Will Win
CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb put it plainly:
IMHO Kentucky is a bad match-up for Wisconsin— shooters and very athletic bigs if WCS plays — Michigan is a better matchup— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) March 30, 2014
The Wildcats' length and athleticism will allow them to handle Kaminsky and the Badgers' shooters better than Arizona did.
On the other end of the floor, Wisconsin has no chance of slowing Randle down. Unless they get him in foul trouble, he could have his best game of the tournament.
Could a lack of experience come into play to hurt Kentucky? It's possible but unlikely. The Wildcats' transformation has been amazing; per the quote from Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports, even head coach John Calipari is amazed at what his youngsters are accomplishing.
Calipari can't even believe it: "We played six fresh-- no we played seven freshmen today. Didn't we? We played seven freshmen in that game."— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelCBS) March 30, 2014
It's starting to seem like the Wildcats are a team of destiny.
Kentucky will beat Wisconsin and set up a rematch with Florida in the title game.
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