Going into the Elite 8, three of my Final Four predictions and Kentucky (who I said would make it if they beat Wichita State) were still alive. As it turns out, I went 1 for 4 (c’mon, give me 2 with that Kentucky call) as Florida, UConn, Wisconsin, and Kentucky cut down the nets in their respective regions. I’m heading down to North Texas on Friday, so before I go I’d like to give you my predictions for the 3 remaining games.
Florida VS UConn
The spread in this game came out at 7 points, but has since gone down to 6 in favor of the Gators. While I thought Florida would have the tougher road to the Final Four, UConn shocked me game after game. The Huskies laid down and died vs a sub-par Louisville team (told you) twice in their final week of the season, and barely got past their first round overtime match-up against St Joseph’s. Since then, Shabazz Napier has put the Huskies on his back, and all of a sudden the rest of the team is lengthy and super athletic. The miracle run stops here for UConn, though, as Florida will be just too much for them to handle. When you think about it, UConn has more future NBA players than Florida, but there is no group of guys who play better as a team than the Gators (maybe Wichita State? Naa…). If I’m betting the spread, I take UConn, but I expect them to lose while covering.
Prediction: Florida 63, UConn 59
Wisconsin VS Kentucky
These teams are the yin and yang of the Final Four. So different, yet perfectly complementary to each other. We’re in for an amazing game when the Wisconsin Badgers face off against the Kentucky Wildcats in Arlington. I thought Wisconsin would struggle against uber athletic teams, but they absolutely handled Baylor, and squeaked out an overtime win against my pre-season favorite Arizona. They have a very intelligent backcourt, and stretch 4/5 Frank Kaminsky is a match-up nightmare. If they plan on getting to the championship game, they’ll have to show they can run with yet another athletic team in Kentucky. The Wildcats have hit their stride and the best possible time, knocking off 3 of last year’s Final Four on their way to Arlington. How incredible is that stat? This year’s Wildcats team has 8 (yes, 8) projected future NBA players to Wisconsin’s 0. Luckily for Wisconsin, one of them is out with an injury in Willie Cauley-Stein, but Dakari Johnson has stepped in and played very well. I expect the best recruiting class since the Fab 5 to keep the momentum rolling, and take this one rather easily.
Prediction: Kentucky 77 – Wisconsin 65
Florida and Kentucky will make an absolute monster of an NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship game. The best team in the country vs the best recruiting class pretty much ever. I expect to see a ton of high-flying dunks and a fast-paced game that’ll keep me on the edge of my seat. In the end, I think Florida squeaks by to a 72-68 victory, keeping my reign of correct predictions for the past several years going.