After two weeks of cinematic like basketball, we are now down to four teams, with 3 games left until that one shinning moment.
UConn road to the Final Four:
- 2nd Round - #10 St. Joseph 89-81 (OT)
- 3rd round - #2 Villanova 77-65
- Sweet 16 - #3 Iowa State 81-76
- Elite 8 - #4 Michigan State 60-54
I'm sure 2nd year coach Kevin Ollie doesn't blame Jim Calhoun for him leaving him a sanctioned program. Ollie spent 2 years as an assistant for his former coach & mentor, and I can tell he has Calhoun style down pack. UConn has always had great guards and now we can add Shabazz Naiper to that list. Shabazz and the Huskies defeated the tournament favorites, Michigan State, 60-54, Shabazz leading all scorers with 25, 17 in the second half. Shabazz was apart of the 2010 National Championship, when Kemba put on the best postseason performance we ever seen, so he know first hand what it takes to lead a team to the final four. Shabazz, like Kemba, has a great supporting cast also, with Ryan Boatright, Deandre Daniels, and Niels Giffey. Daniels has been a key player for the Huskies, averaging 16 points in the postseason, also his long 6'9 frame on the defensive end. UConn might not have the most talent in the tournament but I do think they have the best chemistry, like most UConn squads.
Kentucky's road to the Final Four:
- 2nd Round - #9 Kansas State 56-49
- 3rd Round - #1 Wichita State 78-76
- Sweet 16 - #4 Louisville 74-69
- Elite 8 - #2 Michigan 75-72
I have to tip my hat to the young Wildcats of Kentucky. This group did not look as great as they were touted to be entering this season. Against ranked opponents, the Wildcats were 1-6 this year, 3 losses coming against Florida. But something about this tournament has waking these sleeping Cats because they are the last one standing in what everyone claimed to be the toughest region. The talent was always there but now this group with 4 freshman starters finally grew up and at the right time. their last 3 victories were close games that might seem too big of a moment for freshman but coach Calipari had these boys ready. I never been a fan of coach John Calipari but I have to give him his props for what he has done with this team. This will be Calipari's 3rd trip to the Final Four in the past 4 seasons (didn't even make it to the tournament last season). Talent wise, they maybe the best team remaining with the Harrison Twins and James Young on the perimeter, with big bad Julius Randle in the paint, but it is up to Calipari to keep these kids focused, so he can claim his 2nd National Championship in 3 years.
Wisconsin's road to the Final Four:
- 2nd Round - #15 American 75-35
- 3rd round - #7 Oregon 85 - 77
- Sweet 16 - #6 Baylor 69-52
- Elite 8 - #1 Arizona 64 - 63 (OT)
The Badgers are probably the most underrated team in the Final Four. People know that they are good because for one, they are a #2 seed and have 30 wins this season but I don't think anyone has them winning the National Championship. I will let you know that you shouldn't sleep on the Badgers. This is a very good team that is big and versatile. Adam Kaminsky scored 28 points in the overtime win over Arizona in the West Region Finals, causing all types of matchup problems. Kaminsky at 7ft, can spread the floor because of his shooting ability, forcing the opposing team big man to come out on the perimeter. I like this Wisconsin squad because not only can they score but they play defense and have solid guard play with Traevon Jackson and Ben Burst. The Badgers definitley have all the tools you need to win it and they cause matchup problems for all the remaining teams.
Florida's road to the Final Four:
- 2nd Round - #16 Albany 67-55
- 3rd Round - #9 Pitt 61-45
- Sweet 16 - #4 UCLA 79-68
- Elite 8 - #11 Dayton 62-52
Florida enters this year's Final Four as the only #1 seed, 3rd time this has happen in the past 4 years. Luckily for the Gators, history is on their side because all three #1 seeds went on to win the championship (Duke '10, UK '12, Louisville '13). I think Florida has the best team from top to bottom, even the best coach. Billy Donovan already has two National Championships under his belt, looking for a third in his 4th trip to the Final Four. I have been asking around, If Billy Donovan win a third title, where does he rank on the all-time list of greatest coaches? A third title should surely put him in the same conversation as Coach K, Bohiem, Pitino, and Izzo. Donovan has done a great job with this squad though. I don't think they are as talented as his Championship teams that included Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, and Al Horford, but they are definitely good. So far, the Gators have been the most dominant team in the tournament, winning by double digits in every game. It will be hard to go against the Gators because everyone that stands in their way is easily swept to the side. NEXT!