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Men’s Final Four is Set with Surprises Galore

And we have our Final Four for the Men’s 2014 Basketball Championship: No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 7 UConn and No. 8 Kentucky. Now are your brackets busted?

It may be hard to believe the final has a seven and eight seed–not exactly what many predicted–but keep in mind these two teams have won national titles before and they were recent. These four finalists also entered the preseason ranked in the Top 25:  No. 1 Kentucky, No. 7 Florida, No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 20 Connecticut.

While many of us are still trying to wrap our arms around these four, Vegas already has some ideas. Per Bovada, here are the winning odds:

  • Florida -110
  • Kentucky +250
  • Wisconsin +325
  • UConn +700
Billy Donovan

Billy Donovan

Looks like a possible all-SEC final for next Monday. In their three regular season meetings, the Gators won all of them including a 69-59 win at Kentucky, a 84-64 win at Florida and a 61-60 victory in Atlanta (the Gators gave up a 15-point advantage with 11 minutes remaining).

Saturday’s schedule is as follows:
  • No. 1 Florida (-6, 126.5 o/u) vs. No. 7 UConn 6:09 p.m. ET
  • No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Kentucky (-2, 139 o/u) 8:49 p.m. ET

Here’s a look at the numerous storylines.


Billy Donovan is attempting to grab a third title in nine years and has two games to go.

The team is riding a 30-game win streak, putting them in the company of only three others who landed in the Final Four: Indiana State (1979), UNLV (1991) and Duke (1999). How did it work out for them? None of them won the national title.

Experience is on this team’s side with its four seniors having previously played in two Elite Eights–unlike its competitors. These may not be the top players at their positions but their combined experience is an asset.

Defense has been key for Florida including its No. 17 national steal ranking (7.9 steals per game) while Michael Frazier II is a great shooter with his 44.7 percent 3-pointers.


Congratulations to Bo Ryan, who is coaching in his first Final Four. However, it’s bittersweet as it was an annual tradition for Bo and his father, Butch, to attend the Final Four together every year. Unfortunately while Bo has arrived, his father will miss it as he just passed away in August.

Imagine the emotion of winning it all.

Frank Kaminsky

Frank Kaminsky

The team will bring versatile big man Frank Kaminsky. While he scored 28 points against Arizona, he likely won’t do this again but when called upon, he delivers and poses a challenge to match up against.

For Wisconsin, 3-pointers are one of its keys to success. Ben Brust is the program’s leader for career 3-pointers and among the team’s eight-man rotation, seven of them can shoot more than 32 percent from this distance, according to ESPN.


Kentucky has a lot of depth but at the top of the conversation is Julius Randle, leader of its front court. He can rebound (10.7 per game), contributing to the Wildcats’ No. 2 national ranking (a 9.8 per game rebounding margin).

Aaron Harrison has been clutch in the tournament, especially with his 3-pointers, but he does need to remember he plays on a team.

Winning it all will give coach John Calipari title No. 2 in three years.


What can you say? Shabazz Napier has been doing his best Kemba Walker imitation.

This isn’t anything new as he won the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year award and leads the team for scoring, rebounding and assists. He takes the big shot and is clutch.

Florida knows this well.

Shabazz Napier

Shabazz Napier

Rewind to Dec. 2 and Napier’s buzzer-beater jumper defeated the Gators. It was their last loss–on Dec. 2.

Additional stories will include individual players and now that it’s been whittled down to four teams, here’s the odds for 2014 NCAA Tournament MVP:

Scottie Wilbekin (Florida) - 11/10
Michael Frazier II (Florida) - 3/1
Aaron Harrison (UK), Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin) and Julius Randle (UK) - 5/1
Shabazz Napier (UCONN) - 8/1
Ben Brust (Wisconsin) - 10/1




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