The Final Four portion of the 2014 NCAA tournament is tipping off shortly, and it's time to start preparing for the end of March Madness.
With only three games left, you should take one last hard look at your busted bracket and perhaps throw it away in favor of entering a round-by-round challenge, which Bleacher Report has available to play free of charge.
It should be a little easier to fill out a perfect bracket with only two games to pick, but don’t take it lightly. The four remaining teams are all incredibly talented, and each is capable of winning it all.
Keep reading for the complete Final Four schedule, an updated bracket, my predictions on the outcome of each game and more.
|2014 Final Four Schedule, Odds and Predictions|
|Date||National Semifinals||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream||Prediction|
|Sat, April 5||(7) Connecticut vs. (1) Florida (-6.5)||6:09 p.m.||TBS||March Madness Live||Florida|
|Sat, April 5||(8) Kentucky (-1.5) vs. (2) Wisconsin||8:49 p.m.||TBS||March Madness Live||Kentucky|
All Your Bracket Essentials
Must-Watch Final Four Matchup: Florida vs. UConn
Florida’s quest to avenge one of only two losses this season is one of the biggest storylines hanging over this round of the NCAA tournament. UConn managed to upset the Gators on a Shabazz Napier buzzer-beater back in early December and set the stage for this thrilling rematch.
UF came into the Big Dance as the top overall seed and has been absolutely rolling through its opponents. Its closest call came against the Dayton Flyers in the Elite Eight, as the Atlantic 10 team only lost by 10 points—the lowest margin of victory for Florida in the tournament.
The senior-laden squad is undoubtedly hungry to keep its dream season alive, and these players will not be content having just made their first Final Four. After three consecutive trips to the Elite Eight and losing, the only thing that will satisfy the Gators is a national title.
Head coach Billy Donovan has been here before and knows what it takes to keep his team on track, having raised banners in consecutive years back in 2006 and 2007.
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein tweeted out one of Donovan’s most impressive accomplishments:
Unfortunately for fans of the Gators, SportsCenter also tweeted out a disturbing fact concerning the type of run the team is currently on:
The Huskies are definitely going to present a major challenge and are much more dangerous than the 6.5-point spread, via ScoresAndOdds.com, indicates.
Connecticut boasts arguably the top remaining talent in the tournament in Napier, the senior guard who has put the team on his back to make this improbable Final Four surge as a No. 7 seed.
SportsCenter pointed out that Napier’s scoring numbers are reminiscent of Kemba Walker’s, the UConn product who forged his legacy on a magical national championship run back in 2011:
Napier caught fire in Storrs in that December contest, putting up a whopping 26 points to vanquish the Gators. More concerning for Florida has to be the fact that the team did not even play poorly. UF shot a significantly higher percent from the field (49.0 compared to 43.4) and out-rebounded the Huskies by eight, but it still lost to Napier’s heroics.
That alone proves that UConn can hang with the best of the best and could make things quite interesting Saturday evening.
UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is using game tape of his players beating the Gators as motivation going into this contest, according to USA Today's Nicole Auerbach:
I just wanted to show them, you know, Florida was No. 1 and we can beat No. 1. We have already proved it. I wanted to show them their intensity on the defensive end. The offensive end, we were sharing the ball.
Expect a bitter battle that comes down to the wire in the Final Four. Napier may have a chance to win it again, but it is doubtful he will be as fortunate in this round.
The Gators are going to edge out the Huskies, albeit very slightly, and move on to the championship.
Prediction: Florida 69, UConn 68