ARLINGTON, Texas — It was a night of upsets at the Final Four last night.
In the first game, seven seed UConn defeated Florida, the top overall seed in the tournament, 65-53. Hours later, eight seed Kentucky beat two seed Wisconsin, 74-73, in a physical game that came down to a 3-pointer in the final few seconds.
With their wins, the Huskies and Wildcats will face off Monday night in the 2014 Men’s Basketball National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Huskies Dominate Gators
The Florida-UConn game began with a hot start by the Gators. But once the Huskies settled down, they clamped down on Florida. The Connecticut defense suffocated Florida, limiting their shots and allowing UConn’s offense to make some big-time runs.
"We had figured out what was working for us," UConn senior forward Tyler Olander said. "I think early on we got into a little drought."
As the second half ticked off, the game got further and further out of reach for the Gators, who saw their national title dreams fade and their 30-game win streak come to an end.
"We came out from being down 10, 12 points to leading at halftime, so that really gave us that little push, where you just get so pumped up, so emotional that you get a little extra energy, so we were really confident at that point," UConn senior forward Niels Giffey told SI Kids. "It was a really good feeling to bounce back."
"No matter what’s going on, we always stay positive," freshman center Amida Brimah added.
Wildcats Squeak by Badgers
When Wisconsin and Kentucky took the court, it was clear from the get-go that this game would be different than the first one of the night. The two teams played each other close and physical. If one team went on a run, the other would bounce back with a run of its own.
In the final minute, the score was tied, 71-71. After getting fouled behind the arc, Wisconsin’s Traevon Jackson went to the line for three free throws. He made two of them, and with 16.3 second left the Badgers were up, 73-71.
But Kentucky made the most of the time it had left. The Wildcats slowly ran down the court and got the ball to Andrew Harrison who handed it off to his twin brother, Aaron. With time ticking down, Aaron drained a looong 3-pointer from almost the same spot where he hit the game-winner against Michigan that sent Kentucky to the Final Four.
Even after that play, Wisconsin still had about 5 seconds left to try for the win. The Badgers in-bounded the ball and hurried down the court. Jackson shot a runner and it hit off the backboard, hit off the rim and… went out.
"I was just like, 'Oh, snap!' And then it went in!!" freshman forward Marcus Lee told SI Kids. "My mind was blown! It was an awesome thing."
History in the Making
A loud and historic crowd packed the home of the Dallas Cowboys to watch two of the biggest matches of the season. The official attendance for last night’s games was 79,444 people — the most ever for any college basketball game.
But that number could be higher on Monday night for the championship game.
UConn is the first seven seed to reach the finals. The NCAA said that the matchup between seven and eight seeds is the highest combination of seeds to ever play for the championship.
The title game will also be the first time since 1966 that two teams that were not in the tournament the year before are playing for the championship. And in case the Huskies and Wildcats needed extra motivation: This game also will be a rematch of a 2011 Final Four game, which UConn won just by one point.
It was a loud and crazy Saturday night. Monday night should be even better!
Photos: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images, Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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