Will the favorites survive "semifinal Saturday" and reach the national championship of the 2014 NCAA tournament? March Madness has lived up to its name this year, but we're now in April.
Saturday's games will let us know if a calendar change can restore order. Here's a look at the odds for each semifinals matchup, per Covers.com.
|UConn vs. Florida||Florida (-6)|
|Kentucky vs. Wisconsin||Kentucky (-1.5)|
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The only No. 1 seed remaining in the tournament is the top seed overall, the Florida Gators. The six-point margin is rather large for this time of year, but it's more about respect for Florida than it is about disrespect for UConn.
It's hard to argue considering the Gators are on a 30-game win streak. Still, it's only right to mention that Florida's last loss came to the Huskies. On Dec. 2, UConn senior Shabazz Napier hit a game-winning shot to upend the Gators.
That seems like such a long time ago. Each team has improved, but one has to wonder whether UConn has Florida's number. Former college head coach Pete Gillen points out the matchup that everyone will be watching:
The matchup in the Final Four of Shabazz Napier of UConn & Scottie Wilbekin of Florida should be tremendous.These are 2 of the top pt guards— Pete Gillen (@Gillenhoops) March 30, 2014
During the first meeting, Scottie Wilbekin was on the bench with a sprained ankle when Napier hit his game-winner. Could things have been different if the Gators' leader was on the court? Perhaps, but barring some other unexpected event, we should get a chance to see the two seniors go head-to-head.
The college hoops purists will love seeing two seniors get the spotlight in this day and age of one-and-done stars.
While the guards will garner a lot of attention, the game will be won inside. How well UConn's DeAndre Daniels and Amida Brimah hold their ground against Florida's Patric Young and Dorian Finney-Smith is the pivotal mini-game.
Daniels and Brimah are thinner and could potentially be out-muscled in the paint.
The Gators are a physical bunch. They pound the boards and have limited three of four tournament opponents to less than 60 points and shooting percentages under 40 percent.
The grinding style will be too much for UConn to overcome. Florida will have its revenge and a spot in the national championship.
Kentucky vs. Wisconsin
Don't talk to Wisconsin Badgers coach Bo Ryan about the contrast in styles between his team and Kentucky's. Here's what Ryan said at a press conference, per Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports:
Bo: "Kentucky's trying to put the ball in the hole. We're trying to put the ball in the hole. We're trying to keep them from doing it...— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelCBS) March 31, 2014
More Bo: "They're trying to keep us from doing it. I didn't know there were that many styles."— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelCBS) March 31, 2014
Whether Ryan acknowledges it or not, the Wildcats have a huge edge in overall length and athleticism.
Wisconsin and Frank Kaminsky gave Arizona fits in the Elite Eight matchup. Arizona didn't have an answer for Kaminsky's size, shooting ability and unselfishness. He was too quick for Kaleb Tarczewski and too long for Aaron Gordon.
When the double-team came, he moved the ball to find open shooters.
Kentucky won't have those kinds of problems. Marcus Lee, Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein—if he plays—have the requisite length and an edge in athleticism. Kentucky is on a mission right now.
The team is playing together and finally getting the most from its collective talents. Look forward to an All-SEC tournament final. Kentucky will defeat Wisconsin to reach the national championship.
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