The month of March has indeed been mad, and there are just three more games to go in this NCAA tournament before the withdrawals begin to set in.
If you've stayed up to date on the action thus far, then you have absolutely no reason to miss out on what is sure to be an exciting Final Four. The four remaining teams all have different stories, but each is talented enough to deserve the NCAA title. That makes the next two games compelling.
Here's everything you need to know about 2014's Final Four, along with some bold predictions of my own regarding what's going to happen on Saturday.
TV Schedule and Matchups
Shabazz Napier Scores 30 and UConn Still Loses
By now, everyone knows just how good Shabazz Napier has been in the NCAA tournament. He is the singular reason why UConn has made it to the Final Four. It will take another miraculous performance from Napier to give the Huskies a chance at advancing. I'm not sure it's in the cards, though.
Napier can score at will. He has a soft stroke from mid-range and from deep, and his ability to create for himself is phenomenal. Creating for his teammates is also what makes Napier so good.
Unfortunately, Napier is really the only threat UConn boasts on offense. Niels Giffey and Ryan Boatright are just so-so offensive talents. Even if Napier goes off for 30—which I think he will—someone else will have to step up with him.
Florida has too much depth to overcome. Napier can't do it alone. The Gators boast a strong core of Scottie Wilbekin, Michael Frazier II, Casey Prather and Patric Young that will give the Huskies fits on defense.
Napier knows his team's fate is in his hands. As UConn's top star, he'll make his presence felt. Unfortunately, it will be his supporting cast that lets him down.
Kentucky Hits Another Game-Winning Three
Kentucky has gotten past some stiff competition in its last three tournament games, and it has all been because of the three-ball. Rob Dauster of NBC Sports has more on the Wildcats' success from three:
The Harrison twins and James Young combined to shoot right around 31% from beyond the arc during the regular season. In the NCAA tournament, they are hitting 44.9% from deep (22-49). The game-winning shots against Louisville, Wichita State and Michigan were all threes from either Aaron Harrison or James Young.
The fact that Kentucky's past three wins have come on game-winning threes is astonishing. It hasn't appeared like Kentucky has just squeaked by, but in reality, it has.
Wisconsin will be a tough matchup because of Frank Kaminsky's range as a 7-footer, so the game should be a close one. This will give someone else the chance to be a hero yet again.
I think Aaron Harrison will make way for his brother, Andrew, to be the hero this time around. It might not be a buzzer-beater, but a last-second three is certainly in the cards for the Wildcats.
Someone Other than Frank Kaminsky Leads Wisconsin in Scoring
Frank Kaminsky will create terrible matchup issues for the Kentucky defense. As a 7-footer who can knock it down from deep, opposing power forwards and centers haven't had an easy go of defending him.
His skills also allow him to play inside. He has a refined post game and can score with a soft touch near the rim. He isn't a physical specimen or a great athlete, but Kaminsky knows how to get the job done.
Julius Randle will likely be guarding him on Saturday, though, and that will severely limit his game. Kaminsky's approach will have to change, and this could result in a lot more threes and mid-range jumpers. As a result, Kaminsky won't post his usual strong numbers.
|Final Four Schedule and Matchups|
|Date||National Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV|
|Sat, April 5||(7) Connecticut vs. (1) Florida||6:09 p.m.||TBS|
|Sat, April 5||(8) Kentucky vs. (2) Wisconsin||8:49 p.m.||TBS|
I think another Badger will lead the team in scoring. Sam Dekker is a good bet, but guard Ben Brust will have to do most of the heavy lifting. Kaminsky might very well still score 15 or so, but Brust will be better.
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