This has been one of the more interesting NCAA Tournaments in recent history, but that doesn’t mean it has to stop here. The best part of every tournament has yet to happen, and expect it to offer some memories.
In the first of the Final Four matchups, the overall one-seed Florida Gators take on by far the most surprising of the group, the Connecticut Huskies. There’s no doubt that Scottie Wilbekin and Patric Young are a dynamic duo that can lift them over any team in this tournament, but could their 30-game win streak be a liability. That may sound ridiculous, because why would a win streak be a reason for a team to lose, but sometimes those streaks can become a burden and weigh on player’s shoulders. But then again, this team may just be the best in the nation that will walk over UConn.
As for the Huskies, I think it’s easy to note that they’re clicking at the right time. I don’t think it hurt that their Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games were in Madison Square Garden, where they’ve played for years in the coveted Big East Tournament, but they are battle tested. UConn is undersized, which could hurt them against a decent sized Gators squad, but I think this game is about the one-on-one matchup between Wilbekin and Napier. These are two of the Association’s premier guards with an opportunity to take their respective squads to a national championship game, why wouldn’t they show up?
My prediction: I believe the Gators will hold on and take down the Huskies by more than six points. The Huskies are a good team, but I can’t imagine they will be able to hang with the strength of Florida.
Saturday’s second game will feature the Wisconsin Badgers against the Kentucky Wildcats. This tip-off, which I believe to be the better of the two games, features a normal Calipari team with one extra attribute, clicking at the right time. In my personal bracket, I had them as the darkhorse, playing through the Elite Eight, but maybe they actually are as good as they’re playing up to. Something they have that is so beneficial at this time is young legs. This team can keep playing at a high level late in a game because of their incredible youth. Their “next man up” mentality also helps because if someone isn’t playing at their highest level, the next person is ready to fill in their shoes.
On the other end of the ball, you have a blooming Badgers squad who live and die around their forward, Frank Kaminsky. They are coming off a win against the team that I believe is the best in the land, but they can’t afford a hangover. Any slow start will hurt them down the road, so if they want any chance at winning this game, a strong start is more than necessary. Kaminsky has to play his best game of the season, and shoot just as well as he did against Arizona, a game in which he led the team in rebounding and three-pointers made. The Badgers will need him to be the best player on the floor, which isn’t something he’s afraid of.
My prediction: I’m riding the Wildcat train hard and will stick with them to win another. Julius Randle is one of the best players in the nation, but he is complimented by a plethora of young talent. The Badgers are big, but I think their run will stop here with a loss to the Wildcats by a margin of around four.
If I were to be questioned about it at this moment, I would give the title to the Gators because of their senior leadership, but that’s why they play the games, to make predictors like me incredibly wrong.