Final Four Primer

And then there were four. Okay, so maybe your team is out of the tournament but that doesn’t mean the Final Four won’t be fun — especially with the four that are left. We’ve got traditional powerhouses v. newcomers, seniors v. freshmen, and by Monday night one of them will be the 2014 College Basketball National Champion! No pressure…BUT…Who ya got?? In the spirit of the championship, here’s a taste of one of our favorite one shining moments:

The Mens’ Final Four Game Info

Florida (#1 seed) v. Connecticut (#7 seed) — April 5th, 6:09pm — TBS: In the first semi-final of the night, we are in for a treat with the #1 overall seed playing the traditional powerhouse turned Cinderella! That’s right, Florida‘s senior-led team of winners will take on the second-year coach (Kevin Ollie) and the kid (Shabazz Napier) who can’t be stopped. Earlier this season, UConn was one of the only teams to beat Florida and there is no doubt that they remember this. Further, the last time Florida lost was to UConn (in December) and since then they’ve won 30 games. However, Shabazz has been one of the best two players in the tournament and  has been willing his team to victory game after game. This one will be close, but I’m not sure Connecticut’s magic ride will surpass the veteran leadership of Florida. Further, Coach Billy Donovan has done this before — it’s not too long ago that he won 2 back-to-back titles. Regardless, expect a good game and a good fight from both teams.

Prediction: Florida

 

Wisconsin (#2 seed) v. Kentucky (#8 seed) — April 5th, 8:49pm — TBS: Expect the second game of the night to be the main event. Wisconsin and star forward Frank Kaminksy are playing excellent basketball, but Kentucky‘s young kids are the team to be feared. Ever since people started doubting them, the comeback kids have have gone from playing like men to putting on a show. Freshman Julius Randle has been a star all season, but the highly touted Harrison twins have overcome a tough start to dominate games including Aaron’s game-winner in the Elite Eight. Coach Calipari might not have the best reputation, but he’s once again led his young kids back to the final four. On the flip side, Bo Ryan has coached his team to his first final four (he previously won DII National Championships) with tough players who have spent a few years in school. These teams play fairly opposite styles, have big-name coaches, and a collection of rising stars who will be future NBA talents — need we say more? Get excited, this one could be one for the books.                                  

Prediction: Kentucky 

 

National Championship Game — April 7th, 9:00pm — CBS: We shall see, but money is on Kentucky v. Florida, with Kentucky taking the whole thing.

The Women’s Final Four — Sunday, April 6th:

  • Notre Dame (#1 seed) v. Maryland (#4 seed) — April 6th, 6:30pm — ESPN — Prediction: Notre Dame
  • Connecticut (#1 seed) v. Stanford (#1 seed) — April 6th, 8:30pm — ESPN — Prediction: Connecticut
  • National Championship — Monday, April 9th — Prediction: Connecticut

The Star Factor 

Connecticut

  • The Coach: Kevin Ollie – Star player for UConn turned rising star in his second year as the coach of UConn
  • The Star: Shabazz Napier – Unstoppable star guard for UConn who does it all
  • The X-Factor: Ryan Boatright – Talented backcourt mate to Shabazz and needs to play well for UConn to beat Florida

Kentucky

  • The Coach: John Calipari – Known for recruiting one-and-done players to Big Blue Nation and yet (mostly), all he does is win
  • The Star: Julius Randle – Super strong and one of the elite freshmen who can take over games in the paint
  • The X-Factors: Aaron and Andrew Harrison – Both of the Harrison twins have been playing great ball lately

Wisconsin

  • The Coach: Bo Ryan – Successful coach at Wisconsin with this being his first time making the final four
  • The Star: Frank Kaminsky – Excellent big man who will be a difference maker on both ends of the court
  • The X Factor: Sam Dekker – Talented sophomore forward who can provide Wisconsin with offense

Florida

  • The Coach: Billy Donovan – Previously won 2 titles with Florida in 2006 & 2007, and has coached a great team this year
  • The Star: Scottie Wilbikin – Clutch leader of the senior leaders on the Florida team
  • The X-Factor: Patric Young – His defense and rebounding will be important keys to the game

The Plot-lines

  • Old School v. New School – One and Done culture vs. Upperclassman culture
  • Freshmen v. Seniors – See: Kentucky freshmen or Florida seniors
  • All-SEC Final v. Teams of Destiny – Is Connecticut chasing destiny? or are we destined for an all-SEC rematch final? Keep in mind that if that does happen, Florida has already beaten Kentucky 3 times this year. It would be very tough to beat them again. 

The Prep Work (read these!)

Calipari’s Freshman
One-and-Done with a Championship on top?
Embracing the one-and-done movement in the new era of college basketball

Frank’s Time
Getting to know you
Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky is ready to lead his team to the national championship

Game Changer
Kevin Ollie, the Coach
Winning over the doubters and leading his team to the Final Four in his second season as head coach

Star Power
All Tournament Team
Grantland’s Mark Titus explains his top five best players of the tournament going into the Final Four

Shabazz
When it feels like destiny
Can Shabazz Napier and the Connecticut Huskies be stopped?

The Closer
Scottie does know
Scottie Wilbekin and Florida want to prove they’re the best once and for all

 

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