Gauging the Madness

Doug Hendry, Assistant Sports Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






How They Got Here:

Florida Gators:

The Gators got off to a slow start this tourney, as Albany almost forced Florida to become the first team to lose to a No. 16 seed. However, Florida survived the Great Danes 67-55. The Gators then won their second game with ease by defeating No. 9 Pittsburgh 61-45. Their toughest matchup came against Pac-12 champion UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen. Still, the Gators chomped on the Bruins’ hopes, winning 79-68. In the Elite Eight, the Gators expected to face Kansas or Syracuse, but ended up against the Cinderella team from the South Region in No. 11 Dayton. Despite shooting 37.5 percent from the field, Florida defeated the Flyers 62-52.

Wisconsin Badgers:

Wisconsin earned this tournament’s largest margin of victory by defeating the Patriot League’s No. 15 American University 75-35. The Badgers then went up against two teams who may have been better than their seed suggests. They defeated No. 7 Oregon 85-77 and No. 6 Baylor 69-52, making it to the Elite Eight without many barriers. In the Elite Eight, Wisconsin was victorious over No. 1 Arizona 64-63 in overtime, helping Bo Ryan reach his first Final Four and the first Final Four for the Badgers since 2000.

Connecticut Huskies:

Connecticut began tournament play against a tough No. 10 seed in St. Joseph’s, followed by No. 2 Villanova, No. 3 Iowa State, and No. 4 Michigan State. The Huskies defeated the Hawks 89-81 in its highest-scoring affair, followed by an upset of Villanova 77-65. Possibly having the toughest opponents out of all four teams, things didn’t get easier, but the Huskies pulled through. Connecticut defeated Iowa State 81-76 in the Sweet Sixteen, followed by a physical 60-54 victory over Tom Izzo and Michigan State in the Elite Eight.

Kentucky Wildcats:

After starting the season off as the No. 1 ranked team, things went south quickly. After an impressive run in the SEC tournament, Kentucky stayed hot. The Wildcats defeated No. 9 Kansas State 56-49 in the opener, followed by an impressive 78-76 victory over undefeated Wichita State. Kentucky then defeated last year’s champion No. 4 Louisville by a 74-69 margin. In the Elite Eight, Kentucky controlled the game against No. 2 Michigan and secured the 75-72 win, and the Wildcats will play in the Final Four for the third time in the last four years.

 

Keys To Success:

Florida Gators:

The No. 1 overall seed in the tournament most likely had the easiest path to Arlington, as they competed against a No. 16, No. 11, No. 9, and No. 4 seed. Their shutdown defense is the sole reason they reached the Final Four, as they held all of their opponents to less than 70 points. Offensively, senior Scottie Wilbekin has averaged 16.8 points per game. The Gators lost in the Elite Eight the previous three years, and having finally made the Final Four, they aren’t ready to stop. Florida will put its 30-game winning streak on the line.

Wisconsin Badgers:

Seven-foot senior Frank Kaminsky has really come on down the stretch here in the tournament, as his 74 points is second most of all players who remain in the tourney. He is averaging six rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game to go along with a .545 shooting percentage. Defense has been Ryan’s main focus, as the Badgers stymied American to only 35 points and limited the high-octane Baylor offense to 52 points. If Wisconsin wants to move on in the tournament, they will have to keep senior Ben Brust involved (52.2 percent on three-pointers) as well as limit Kentucky’s best player in Julius Randle.

Connecticut Huskies:

The Huskies have been playing Shabazzketball in this NCAA Tournament, as senior guard Shabazz Napier has single-handedly brought this No. 7 seed into the Final Four. Napier has recorded at least 19 points and five rebounds in all four games, including four three-pointers in each of his last three games. Closing out the nailbiters has been a specialty for Connecticut, helped by Connecticut’s 88 percent free throw rate during the tournament. Combined with their high-pressure defense and 29 steals through four games, the Huskies have given opposing teams fits.

Kentucky Wildcats:

Here are a few facts for you: the one-and-done factory is the first team to make it to the Final Four while starting all freshmen since Michigan did it in 1992. Also, Kentucky is the first team to beat three teams from the previous year’s Final Four (Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan). They keep defying expectations, and Randle is an important part of that. He led the team with 15 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in the regular season, and has done even better in the postseason. If the starting five can stay together and not get frustrated offensively, they could continue to surpass expectations.

 

Prediction:

Final Four: No. 7 Connecticut defeats No. 1 Florida 73-66. Connecticut got hot at the right time like several previous champions have, and Napier is playing out of his mind. Florida has had a few close encounters already. They don’t seem to be as dominant as they were against their SEC opponents and suffered one of their two losses to the Huskies earlier in the season.

Final Four: No. 2 Wisconsin defeats No. 8 Kentucky 75-61. Kentucky has pulled through in every close game against the best teams in the nation this postseason. However, their freshmen won’t have enough to pull it out. Wisconsin’s defense should allow them to gain fast breaks on the other end, leaving John Calipari’s Wildcats in a chaotic frenzy on the court.

Championship: No. 2 Wisconsin defeats No. 7 Connecticut 79-73. Wisconsin has the most consistent team out of all four remaining. They can stop, or at least limit, Connecticut’s offense. If the Huskies get out of rhythm offensively, it will be a long night for them. Kaminsky anchors this Wisconsin team, and if Wisconsin earns the title, he will win Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

Quotes:

  • Austin Wetterau ’17: I had Louisville winning it all because I thought they were getting hot at the right time. The team that is surprising me the most is Kentucky because for all the talent the team has, they had trouble playing as a team throughout the year. Better late than never for the Wildcats.
  • Scott Deutsch ’17: My bracket was unbelievable up until the Elite Eight; I was in the 99th percentile and had all of my Final Four teams in it. Then with Michigan, Louisville, and Arizona losing, my bracket exploded. At least my hometown UConn Huskies are killing it right now.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
(Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)