Wisconsin vs. Kentucky: Vital Game Info, Predictions for 2014 Final Four Matchup

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IApril 5, 2014

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 23:  Julius Randle #30 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates with teammate Dakari Johnson #44 after defeating the Wichita State Shockers 78 to 76 during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 23, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

John Calipari has his Kentucky Wildcats competing in the Final Four for the third time in four years and vying for their second national championship in three years.

But standing in Kentucky's way of another National Championship Game appearance and potentially a ninth NCAA tournament title is second-seeded Wisconsin, who are making their first trip to the Final Four since 2000. Bo Ryan's Badgers have done it with ball movement and defense thus far, but have yet to face a team as talented as the Wildcats.

With the stage set for a thrilling national semifinal on Saturday, let's get you set with the vital game info and some predictions.


All Your Bracket Essentials:


When: Saturday, April 5 at 8:49 p.m. ET

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Watch: TBS

Live Stream: March Madness Live

Spread*: Kentucky (-1.5)

*according to Covers.com.


Game Prediction

Although Kentucky wasn't supposed to make it this far, beating three higher-seeded teams en route to the Final Four, good luck betting against the Wildcats. 

After all, Kentucky has won three straight games in dramatic fashion. What's more, Calipari's squad beat a 2013 Final Four team in each of those games, knocking off Michigan on a last-second three most recently in the Elite Eight. 

With the Harrison brothers making tremendous strides this postseason, and Julius Randle continuing to make his presence felt on the interior, everything is coming together at the right time for one of college basketball's most storied programs, according to Calipari via USA Today's Nancy Armour:

It's hard when all seven (freshmen) scored 28 a game in high school, to give up something. When they all just settled in and lost themselves in the team, the game became easier. They became better. They had more fun. They became more confident. And, all of a sudden, this is what you have...But it took us four months.

If the Badgers can get another dynamic performance from junior forward Frank Kaminsky on Saturday, they'll have a shot at reaching Monday's National Championship Game. However, with Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson stepping up big time in the absence of Willie Cauley-Stein, Kaminsky will have his work cut out for him.

Randle is a monster on the glass, and if the Harrison brothers continue to shoot and drive the lane with confidence, Kentucky simply has too much talent and firepower for Wisconsin to overcome.

Kentucky 72, Wisconsin 66


Player of the Game Prediction

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 30:  Julius Randle #30 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball over Jordan Morgan #52 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

Kentucky's Randle hasn't always shot the ball well in this tournament, but he's been by far the most consistent player in the Wildcats' rotation, recording a double-double in all four of Kentucky's wins, per ESPN Stats & Info on Twitter:

Therefore, you can expect the 6'9", 250-pound forward to lead Kentucky to victory on Saturday night in North Texas.

Randle is averaging just under 16 points and 12 rebounds per game in the tournament and should turn in a similar stat line this weekend. What's more, if he can shoot 7-of-12 from the field like he did against Kansas State in the round of 64, the Wildcats should win going away.

While Kentucky has received timely contributions from James Young, Alex Poythress and the Harrison brothers, Randle's consistency has been the driving force behind the Wildcats' success this spring.

Look for that to continue on Saturday night against Wisconsin.


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