Nobody bet on these Final Four matchups

  • Updated: April 4, 2014 - 12:28 AM

Kentucky Wildcats forward Julius Randle (30) celebrates the win as Louisville Cardinals guard/forward Luke Hancock (11) looks on. The Kentucky Wildcats defeated Louisville 74-69 in the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Region semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Friday, March 28, 2014. (Sam Riche/MCT) ORG XMIT: 1151010

It turns out Warren Buffet made a pretty good bet when he put $1 billion on the table for any completely accurate bracket.

There aren’t any left.

The overhyped contest, in fact, didn’t even make it to the tourney’s opening weekend, dying on the first Friday.

What there has been no shortage of, however, is postseason drama and intrigue. Three Big Ten teams survived the first two weekends to comprise nearly half of the Elite Eight. Two of those squads — Michigan and Michigan State — fell Sunday, and in their undoings a 7 seed (Connecticut) and an 8 seed (Kentucky) held on in upsets. Now, the cards have been laid for a Final Four next to no one predicted. If the theme of the tournament continues, we’re in for more big performances and tight games. To that I say, “Giddy up.”

Now that Michigan State — the champ by my estimation in early March — has fallen, who’s the next man up? Let’s rank the remaining contenders, shall we?

Kentucky: How hot have the Wildcats been? Blazing enough to surpass the likes of Florida and Wisconsin on this list — both of whom have been rock solid all the way through. No one has had a tougher path. Kentucky has gone through essentially all of the loaded Midwest Region favorites in Kansas State, Wichita State, Louisville and Michigan to get here. The Wildcats have certainly seen their share of dynamic offenses. Yet they’ve found a way to top them all, even without Willie Cauley-Stein on Sunday.


Florida: The Gators shouldn’t be discredited for the fact that they haven’t had to prove as much as the rest to get here. Billy Donovan’s squad has spent the past four months demonstrating that it belongs. Now, Scottie Wilbekin — who nearly didn’t return to the team this year after a summer full of off-court drama — has been as clutch as ever. Their No. 1-ranked defense harasses opponents on every possession. As Connecticut will soon learn, no shot comes easy.


Wisconsin: Center Frank Kaminsky, a mismatch for just about every opponent, is leading a Badgers team that is about as special as any in Bo Ryan’s tenure. Perennially a defensive stalwart, it’s Wisconsin’s offense — a versatile, three-point-heavy firestorm — that has garnered the praise. That’s worked out pretty well, as the squad has carried its coach to his first Final Four appearance.


UConn: With Shabazz Napier on the roster, anything is possible. But the past two weeks, the brilliant offensive star has been flanked by some incredible performances from Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels, who are both out over their skis a little bit. Can the Huskies keep up the balanced attack with the championship game on the line? If so, their top-10 defense that smothered Michigan State will play a big role.



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  • Kentucky head coach John Calipari speaks as Florida forward Will Yeguete (15) and Scottie Wilbekin (5) walk on the court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Championship round of the Southeastern Conference men's tournament, Sunday, March 16, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

  • Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier (13) grabs his right leg after he was hurt on a play during the second half of a third-round game against Villanova in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Buffalo, N.Y., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Connecticut won the game 77-65. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

  • clockwise: Kentucky forward Julius Randle, Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin, Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier and Wisconsin center No. 44 Frank Kaminsky all stand out on teams still standing.

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Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
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Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
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Colorado 3
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Boston 85
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New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
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Houston 100
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San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 53 3rd Qtr
Golden State 53
Portland 46 3rd Qtr
LA Clippers 48
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 0 2nd Prd 3:13
Colorado 2
Montreal 0 2nd Prd 5:57
Anaheim 2
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
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LSU 63
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Robert Morris 91
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Massachusetts 53
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Duke 94
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Michigan State 72
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Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
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Marquette 51
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Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 54 2nd Half 5:02
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Nebraska 40 2nd Half 10:47
Illinois 42
Colorado State 71 2nd Half 7:35
Nevada 45
Boise State 56 2nd Half 12:07
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Oregon 21 1st Half 4:54
Oregon State 28
UC Santa Barbara 10:59 PM
Toledo 64 FINAL
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Boston College 53
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SIU-Edwardsville 72
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Florida 49
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Indiana 68
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Elon 77
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Northeastern 42
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UNC-Wilmington 76
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Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
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Cleveland State 73
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Wright State 74
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Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56


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