How long did it take for your brackets to get destroyed? Of the top regional seeds, only Florida has made it to the Final Four as Wichita State, Virginia, and Arizona, all No. 1 seeds, went down in flames. Joining the Florida Gators in this year’s Final Four are the Kentucky Wildcats, the UConn Huskies, and the Wisconsin Badgers. The semifinal games are on Sat. night with the winners staying around Arlington, Texas, to play for the championship on Mon. night.
Here’s the four teams and how they have done so far.
Four consecutive double-digit wins by the Gators has most people picking Florida to win it all. If the Gators prevail, they’l have won their first championship since back-to-back wins in 2006 and 2007.
In the second round, Albany lived up to its Great Danes nickname by giving the Gators all that they could handle until Florida pulled away late. As much trouble as Florida had with Albany, it served as a wake up call to romp against Pitt, handle UCLA, and ruin Dayton’s Cinderella dreams. Indeed, strong rebounding and dominance at the free throw line kept the Gators chomping.
The Huskies are back in the Final Four. UConn is a familiar name, but returning to the Final Four this year has surprised most people. After all, the Huskies were outclassed by Louisville and Cincinnati in the inaugural season of the American Athletic Conference (AAC). The low point for the Huskies was on March 8 when they were routed 81 to 48 by the Cardinals.
Despite losing again to Louisville in the AAC championship game, the Huskies have managed to keep it together in the NCAA tournament, vanquishing, Saint Joseph’s, Villanova, Iowa State, and Michigan State. The Huskies have made four Final Four appearances, winning three including the 2011 championship. Coach Kevin Ollie is in just his second year at the Huskies helm, his first where UConn is academically eligible to participate.
The Badgers blasted American University 75 to 35 to open their NCAA tournament run, but that rout was followed by a hard-fought contest against Oregon before smothering Baylor.
It was the Round of 8 or regional final game against Arizona where the Badgers turned to its big man, 7-foot junior Frank Kaminsky, to bail them out. Kaminsky scored 28 points including six in overtime, and pulled down 11 rebounds. Still, it took a referee decision with two second left to award the ball and ultimately the win to Wisconsin. That decision was not well received back in Tucson where Arizona students rioted following the loss.
After dispatching with Cal Poly 64 to 37 in the second round, the Kentucky Wildcats battled and beat three higher-ranked teams to advance to the Final Four. In the third round it was Wichita State, handing the 35-1 Shockers their first and only loss of the season, 78 to 76. The Shockers missed a game winning three-pointer that would have kept its run alive.
Kentucky beat Louisville 74 to 69 in a battle of in-state teams. Facing off against No. 2 Michigan, the Wildcats appeared to have met their match. The two teams battled valiantly throughout, but it was a long three-pointer by Aaron Harrison that made all the difference in the world for Kentucky.
With a 30-game winning streak, the Gators look unstoppable. Tell that to Wichita State. Notably, the last time Florida lost was on Dec. 2: to UConn. Their only other loss was to Wisconsin. Hmmm….
Still, the chances of an all-SEC final are fairly good. Both semifinal games should be fought strong from wire-to-wire, but the edge for Florida-UConn belongs to the Gators. I’ll also choose the Badgers to top Kentucky, with Florida winning it all on Mon. night.
See Also — The Road to the Final Four: Obstacles Abound