2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament

NCAA Tournament 2014: Updated Bracket, Predictions and Odds for Final Four

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 16:  Julius Randle #30 of the Kentucky Wildcats drives against Casey Prather #24 of the Florida Gators in the first half during the Championship game of the 2014 Men's SEC Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome on March 16, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2014

After countless upsets and two thrilling weekends of NCAA tournament basketball, the Final Four is set as Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Kentucky are each two wins away from a national championship.

Below, we'll get you set for the most exciting weekend in April with the latest odds and predictions for Saturday's Final Four action in North Texas.

 

All Your Bracket Essentials:

 

2014 NCAA Tournament Final Four Schedule
DateMatchupTime (ET)TVLive Stream
Sat, April 5(7) Connecticut vs. (1) Florida6:09 p.m.TBSMarch Madness Live
Sat, April 5(8) Kentucky vs. (2) Wisconsin8:49 p.m.TBSMarch Madness Live
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2014 NCAA Tournament Championship Odds
(Seed) TeamOdds
(1) Florida1-1
(8) Kentucky5-2
(2) Wisconsin7-2
(7) Connecticut8-1
Source: VegasInsider.com

 

No. 1 Florida (-6.5) Over No. 7 Connecticut 

STORRS, CT - DECEMBER 02: Ryan Boatright #11 of the Connecticut Huskies drives to the basket in front of Patric Young #4 of the Florida Gators in the second half during the game at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on December 2, 2013 in Storrs, Connecticut.  (Pho
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Saturday's first national semifinal will pit the heavily-favored Gators up against the surprising Connecticut Huskies, who find themselves back in the Final Four for the second time in four years.

But while Kevin Ollie's overachieving Huskies are hotter than ever, they'll have an awfully tough time cooling off Billy Donovan's overall top seed, which has won 30 straight games since falling to Connecticut on a buzzer-beater in Storrs, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Therefore, expect the revenge factor to loom large in Saturday's showdown.

But more so than revenge, watch for defense to decide the winner. Only Virginia and San Diego State have been stingier on that end than Florida in 2013-14, and the Gators' performance in the tournament has been eye-popping. The Gators are allowing just 55 points per game in the Big Dance and have surrendered more than 60 points in just three of their last 11 games.

Those numbers don't bode well for a Connecticut team that ranks 142nd in the nation in team field-goal percentage and 144th in points per game. 

Although the Huskies already have a blueprint for success against the SEC champions, it's unlikely they'll be plus-24 from beyond the arc the second time around. Plus, Florida is a much more confident team at this point in the season. Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin is likely to give Shabazz Napier everything he can handle on the perimeter while Florida's experienced bigs promise to make their presence felt on the interior.

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 29: Scottie Wilbekin #5 of the Florida Gators looks on during the south regional final of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Dayton Flyers at the FedExForum on March 29, 2014 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Remember, Wilbekin missed the waning moments of Florida's loss to Connecticut on Dec. 2 because of a sprained right ankle.

Sure, Connecticut's run to the East Region title was awfully impressive, but Florida presents an entirely new challenge in terms of size, speed and experience. 

 

No. 8 Kentucky (-2) Over No. 2 Wisconsin 

Mar 30, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Aaron Harrison (2) reacts after making a basket against the Michigan Wolverines in the second half of the finals of the midwest regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Arguably the most dangerous team left in the tournament is eighth-seeded Kentucky, which has seen its talented freshmen make tremendous strides both physically and mentally over the past two weeks, per SportsCenter on Twitter:

As a result, the Wildcats will be two-point favorites over second-seeded Wisconsin in Arlington.

Although Kentucky could possibly be without 7-foot forward Willie Cauley-Stein, who injured his left ankle in the Sweet 16 versus Louisville, the Wildcats have the strength and size across the board to compete against the Badgers, who thrive on excellent ball movement around the perimeter.

But as always, rebounding will be a key factor in determining which team advances. And that's where Kentucky does a majority of its damage. The Wildcats rank fifth in the country in rebounding (41.3 per game) and are led by physical freshman Julius Randle, who's averaging a double-double this season. 

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 30:  Julius Randle #30 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball aginst Jon Horford #15 of the Michigan Wolverines in the first half during the midwest regional final of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadiu
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Following Sunday's dramatic Elite Eight win over Michigan, Kentucky head coach John Calipari talked about his team's overall improvement since the start of the season, per USA Today's Nicole Auerbach:

We're going in a little bit blind. But I'm going to tell you, we've got good skill. We've got good size. We've got good toughness. We've got tougher through football practices...Now they're playing a little bit different. We're able to make tougher shots when we're getting bumped and grabbed a little bit.

With the 6'9", 250-pound Randle having pulled 48 rebounds through the Wildcats' first four tournament games, Wisconsin will need sensational performances from Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker on the glass.

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 27:  Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers goes after a loose ball in the second half while taking on the Baylor Bears during the regional semifinal of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Honda Center on March 27, 20
Harry How/Getty Images

Offensively, the 7-foot Kaminsky will be a tough cover for Kentucky. The junior forward has been on fire of late, averaging 22 points per game over his last three games and posting 28 points and 11 rebounds in the Badgers' Elite Eight win over Arizona. 

But with the Harrison brothers now combining with Randle to give the Wildcats a dynamic inside-out scoring punch, it's difficult to imagine the Badgers overcoming Kentucky, who will have a massive crowd on their side in AT&T Stadium.

 

*All spread info according to Covers.com

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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