2014 NCAA Final Four Preview
The 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is down to its Final Four teams: Florida, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Here’s a preview of what to expect in Saturday’s national semifinals from North Texas:
(1) Florida vs. (7) Connecticut
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Tex.; 6:09 p.m. (EDT) on TBS
How They Got Here:
Florida (36-2) captured the South Region title with double-digit victories over Albany, Pitt, UCLA and Dayton. The Gators have won 30 consecutive games. Their last loss came on December 2…to their Final Four opponent.
Connecticut (30-8) toppled Florida, 65-64, earlier this season on a buzzer-beater by Shabazz Napier. The UConn guard helped his team beat St. Joseph’s, Villanova, Iowa State and Michigan State for the East Region crown. Napier has the same look of determination that Kemba Walker had when he took the Huskies to the 2011 national title.
Florida will win if… the Gators can contain Napier and force Connecticut to produce points in the paint. Offensively, Florida’s Scottie Wilbekin needs to score, while Patric Young and the frontcourt dominate on the offensive glass.
UConn will win if… forward DeAndre Daniels and guard Ryan Boatright can help Napier score against the nation’s third-ranked defense. The Huskies will likely have to shoot at a high percentage, as the Gators should have a decided rebounding advantage. Florida out-rebounded UConn, 34-26, in December.
(2) Wisconsin vs. (8) Kentucky
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Tex.; 8:49 p.m. (EDT) on TBS
How They Got Here:
Wisconsin (29-7) defeated American, Oregon, Baylor and Arizona on the way to winning the West Region. Other than the 1-point win over Arizona in the Elite Eight, the Badgers have dominated their opponents. Wisconsin was the only team other than UConn to defeat top-ranked Florida, a team their Final Four opponents have lost to three times.
Kentucky (28-10) triumphed over a gauntlet of Kansas State, Wichita State, Louisville and Michigan to capture the Midwest Region. The Wildcats became the first team since Michigan’s Fab Five in 1992 to reach the Final Four with five freshman starters. Head coach John Calipari’s team has won seven of nine games, only losing to No. 1 Florida.
Wisconsin will win if… the Badgers overcome Kentucky’s length and depth with patience and execution. The Badgers need to shoot well, block out and defend on the perimeter. Seven-foot center Frank Kaminsky can shoot the 3-point shot and pass. Guard Ben Brust must contribute more offense than the five points he scored against Arizona.
Kentucky will win if… the Wildcats can control the tempo. Kentucky has better athletes than Wisconsin and should be able to run out off Badger misses. Guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison and James Young are difficult to defend. Forward Julius Randle may require a double-team in the paint.