We started with 68 teams, and now we're down to the Final Four. After a weekend of epic Elite Eight action, Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Kentucky are Texas bound. The semi-final games of the tournament will be played on April 5, followed by the championship game on April 7.
We get you caught up on this weekend's action, preview the Final Four match ups, and predict what teams will be playing for the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball title. Check it out below, and let us know what teams you think will make it to the final round of the tournament!
Florida (1) vs Connecticut (7), April 5, 6:09 pm
The Gators and Huskies met once this season already. In December, UConn won a 65-64 thriller on a Shabazz Napier buzzer-beater. The senior came up huge again on Sunday in seven seed Connecticut's Elite Eight win over fourth-seeded Michigan State, 60-54. Napier scored 25 points — 17 of which came in the second half, including three clutch free throws with 37.6 seconds left in the game. It also helped that the Huskies were playing in Madison Square Garden. They fed off of thousands of Connecticut fans who brought a little of the old Big East vibe to MSG.
Florida, meanwhile, has been ruthlessly efficient this tournament. The only number one seed left, the Gators have systematically brushed aside Albany, Pitt, and UCLA. Their Elite Eight contest against Dayton had the makings of a trap game — the Flyers were this year's Cinderella squad and could have caught Florida off guard. Instead, UF brought the curtain down on Dayton's amazing run, 62-52. Each of the Gators' four victories have been by at least 10 points — no small feat during March Madness
The Florida and UConn squads that meet on April 5 will be way more battle tested than the ones that played in December. UConn has been a giant killer in this tournament — defeating second seed Villanova and third seed Iowa State, in addition to Michigan State. And the Huskies' intensity should set the stage for one of the best games of the season. But in in the end, the machine that is the Florida Gators will be too much for Connecticut to handle.
Wisconsin (2) vs Kentucky (8), April 5, 8:49 pm
The other Final Four game has all the makings of a heartstopper. Kentucky squeaked by Michigan, 75-72, on an Aaron Harrison three with 2.3 seconds remaining in the game. The eight-seed Wildcats have impressed all tournament long. After an opening round win over Kansas State, Kentucky faced undefeated Wichita State. When the final buzzer rang, the Wildcats had handed the Shockers their first loss. The game was another nail biter: UK's win was secure only after a last-second Fred VanVleet three bounced off the rim. The Wildcats then knocked fourth-seeded Louisville out of the tourney before dispatching second-seed Michigan.
Two seed Wisconsin has had a relatively less stressful path to the Final Four, defeating American U, Oregon, and Baylor. Each win was by at least eight points. But when the Badgers met the Arizona Wildcats in the Elite Eight, it took overtime to decide the contest. And even then, it was way too close for the faint of heart. Wisconsin edged one-seed Arizona 64-63 thanks to the big-time play of big man Frank Kaminsky (28 points on the game, 6 points in overtime).
Both teams enter their Final Four contest riding some pretty big emotional highs. But thanks to the six-day break between games, that probably won't count for much at tipoff. These teams are pretty evenly matched and should combine for a great game. In the end, though, Kentucky has the coaching and intangibles to get to the championship game.
Now it's your turn: Tell us what teams you think will make it to the championship game in the comments section below!
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