The last weekend of the 2014 NCAA tournament is finally here, and the Final Four should bring the most exciting slate of games yet.
Even the most casual fans of college basketball should consider this a can’t-miss event, as these Final Four showdowns could easily go down as two of the best matchups of the 2013-14 campaign. Given the stakes and prominent programs involved, you will need to find a way to tune in to these contests.
While most fans will likely plop down in front of the television to catch the action, there are alternatives for those who may not be able to do this. Keep reading for the complete Final Four schedule, plus information on how to live stream the games, a look at the updated bracket and more.
All Your Bracket Essentials
Live Stream Link: March Madness Live
|Final Four Schedule 2014|
|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|
Must-Watch Final Four Game: No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Kentucky
If you can only tune in to one of these two matchups, make sure you catch the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Kentucky Wildcats at 8:49 p.m. ET on TBS.
It projects to be the more tightly contested Final Four battle, as ScoresAndOdds lists the Wildcats as a 1.5-point favorite in this one, compared to Florida having a 6.5-point advantage over UConn.
Both of these powerhouse programs have navigated past a ton of obstacles to get to this point, and it should come down to the wire to determine which one gets to advance to the championship game on Monday.
Wisconsin may have the higher seed but will be going into this as a slight underdog, which should only add to the team’s motivation. The Badgers are making their first Final Four foray in the Bo Ryan era and are clearly not ready to go home just yet.
The team is traditionally known for its lockdown defense but has morphed into a three-point shooting, offensive-minded force during the 2013-14 campaign.
The Badgers can knock down shots from anywhere on the court, and just about every player on the floor needs to be guarded as soon as he gets close to the three-point line.
That statement is even true when it comes to seven-foot center Frank Kaminsky, who has been the catalyst behind Wisconsin’s current run. The big man compiled 28 points against Arizona in the Sweet 16 on a variety of shot attempts, including bombs from deep and pretty moves in the low post.
He spoke with George Schroeder of USA Today about his side’s transformation in 2013-14: "This is known as a defensive program that slows ball down on offense. ... We wanted to put a little of our brand on it. ... I think it's showing with this run we've had in the tournament."
According to KenPom, the Badgers are the No. 4-ranked offensive team in the entire country, but their defense may be suffering because of it. The unit ranks No. 45 overall in adjusted defense, which may be its downfall against a tall, athletic, talented opponent in Kentucky.
The Wildcats have had their troubles during the 2013-14 campaign but have recently shown why they were regarded as the top team in the country heading into this season.
UK has won four straight during March Madness, including signature victories over previously undefeated Wichita State, last year’s champion, Louisville, and last year’s runner-up, Michigan.
Perhaps most impressive, Kentucky has been doing this with an all-freshman starting lineup. According to ESPN Stats & Info, this is the first team with five freshman starters to advance to the Final Four since Michigan's “Fab 5” accomplished the feat back in 1992:
Between the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, in the backcourt, Julius Randle, James Young and Dakari Johnson in the frontcourt, and super subs Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee coming off the bench, there is no shortage of talent on the UK roster right now.
Don’t be surprised if these elite athletes overwhelm and expose the Wisconsin defense. The Badgers have been mediocre overall behind flashes of greatness, such as stopping ‘Zona from getting off a final shot in the Sweet 16, and they will not be able to advance if they play a subpar game.
With the pressure of the Final Four bearing down on them, the Badgers are bound to make mistakes. Expect Kentucky to capitalize and come out ahead by a narrow margin.
Prediction: Kentucky 67, Wisconsin 65