Despite the bracket being reduced to four teams, there is plenty to talk about, as the intricacies of each matchup between the best of the best are worth a close dissection in the many days leading up to the Final Four.
Perhaps the most important aspect of all is the players on an individual level. Not really the biggest names of all, either. At this stage of the tournament, every player is key in what amounts to epic bouts where every possession counts.
- Download the Printable Bracket
- Follow the Latest Bracket Updates Live
- Play the Free Bracket Challenge
Here is a look at the updated schedule. After the jump, let's take a look at three names who will play a major role in how the proceedings play out on Saturday.
|4/5/14||Florida vs. UConn||6:09 p.m.||TBS||Florida|
|4/5/14||Wisconsin vs. Kentucky||8:49 p.m.||TBS||Kentucky|
Aaron Harrison, Kentucky
Go ahead and call Aaron Harrison Mr. Big Shot:
Or "Stone cold killer," as teammate Alex Poythress calls him, via Kentucky.com's Mark Story:
Alex Poythress on Aaron Harrison's stretch of NCAA Tournament clutch shooting: 'Stone cold killer, right there.'— Mark Story (@markcstory) March 31, 2014
Either will do. Harrison doomed the Michigan Wolverines in the Elite Eight, but he remains a tad under the radar in comparison to a guy like Julius Randle, the double-double machine and most pro-ready prospect on Kentucky's roster.
Harrison's 12 points against the Wolverines were actually his smallest output of the tournament to date, and his ability to defend the elite wings his team has encountered has been critical to Kentucky's Cinderella run.
In the Final Four against Wisconsin, Harrison will have to come up big on the defensive end of the court against a talented guard like Traevon Jackson. He'll also have to help keep a young Kentucky team composed, which he won't get headlines for when all is said and done.
Scottie Wilbekin, Florida
Florida senior Scottie Wilbekin can score at will when he is hot, but his real value will come on defense in the Final Four against Connecticut.
Wilbekin was partially to blame for Florida's most recent loss—back in early December. On the road, Wilbekin was a major part of a defense that allowed UConn's Shabazz Napier to score 26 points and hit the game-winning shot.
To his credit, Wilbekin is confident as he heads into the fateful rematch, as captured by Mark Long of the Associated Press:
Gators PG Scottie Wilbekin on UConn: "I obviously think it's a game we can win. ... I think we have a good chance."— Mark Long (@APMarkLong) March 31, 2014
Wilbekin is capable of monster games, as shown by his 23-point outburst against Dayton in the Elite Eight, but a shootout with Napier—arguably the best overall player left in the tournament—is not a battle Wilbekin is likely to win.
Instead, keep a closer eye on Wilbekin on the defensive side of things. Despite his team's recent dominance, he cannot afford to falter against a familiar foe.
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
A lesser-known recruit out of high school in comparison to some of the stars in the Final Four, Frank Kaminsky has traveled a long road under the careful guidance of Bo Ryan.
Ryan deserves a ton of credit for Kaminsky's major upward trend that now has him as a top name to watch, as CBS Chicago's Adam Hoge illustrates:
I still can't get over the rise of Frank Kaminsky. Bo Ryan is incredible at developing big men, but this might be his best project yet.— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) March 30, 2014
Kaminsky can bang down low with the best around the country, but his real value is as a stretch forward who can step back and hit shots from long range with eyebrow-raising consistency.
He's scored a minimum of 19 points in his last three outings and hit at least two shots from behind the arc in all four tournament games. His versatility makes the Badgers a nightmare matchup for any team, and that includes Kentucky on Saturday—Randle is a force, but he may be out of his comfort zone when asked to deal with Kaminsky.
After Napier, Kaminsky very well may be the most decisive player in the title picture this year.