The 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is heading into the final two rounds, and the genuine excitement surrounding the Final Four has fans of the sport predicting a wild finish to the tourney.
With Florida squaring off against Connecticut and Wisconsin playing Kentucky in the national semifinals, the pursuit of a berth in the national championship is what each of the remaining programs is hunting to win.
Here is all the updated bracket information college basketball fans need to enjoy the Final Four and the vital TV and betting details needed to make an educated wager.
All Your Bracket Essentials
|Final Four Schedule, Odds and Picks|
|Date||National Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Odds||Picks|
|Sat, April 5||(7) Connecticut vs. (1) Florida||6:09 p.m.||TBS||Fla. -6.5||Florida|
|Sat, April 5||(8) Kentucky vs. (2) Wisconsin||8:49 p.m.||TBS||Ky. -2||Kentucky|
|Date||National Championship||Time (ET)||TV||Odds||Picks|
|Mon, April 7||National Championship - TBD||9:10 p.m.||CBS||N/A||N/A|
|Source: NCAA.com and VegasInsider.com|
Final Four’s Best Matchup: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 7 Connecticut
While there is no denying how entertaining Wisconsin vs. Kentucky should be, the intense battle between the No. 1 seed Florida Gators (36-2, 18-0 SEC) and the No. 7 seed Connecticut Huskies (30-8, 12-6 AAC) will steal the show Saturday night.
This is a one-sided battle on paper—Florida has won an incredible 30 games in a row this season—and the Gators are a heavy favorite with the bettors due to this winning streak, according to Jeff Borzello of CBS Sports:
Florida’s last loss came on Dec. 2 to Connecticut, and that adds another layer to this already intriguing matchup. Add in the Gators’ inability to advance past the Elite Eight in each of the three previous seasons, and this promises to be the best matchup of the 2014 Final Four.
After knocking off the underdog Dayton Flyers in the previous round, Gators senior center Patric Young told Gerry Ahern of USA Today (via the Detroit Free Press) about the team’s goals and what the experience means to the players:
It's our goal to make it here and the fact that we've got this opportunity, we're not going to let the moment get bigger than us. We're just very blessed and fortunate to be a team that can play for a Final Four again. We're going to prepare and do the best we can, especially as a senior class, because it's our last go-round to make it to that next step.
Led by senior guard Scottie Wilbekin, Florida has managed to play stellar offense consistently throughout the season using unselfish play at both ends of the court. A strong defense helps spawn offensive opportunities, and the Gators’ stingy defense is one of their biggest strengths.
Not to be outdone, UConn boasts the talent of its own standout senior guard Shabazz Napier, who has emerged as one of the best players in the nation during this tournament.
Just as Kemba Walker put the team on his shoulders and carried the Huskies to glory in 2011, Napier has the same intention with his teammates this season.
Both teams made it this far due to the sheer talent and tenacity at both ends of the floor, and the battle to earn a spot in the national championship game will be one of the best games college basketball fans witness all tournament.
Predicted Final Score: Florida 72, UConn 70.
*Stats via ESPN.com.