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.
|Univ of Minnesota||1||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh||0||2nd Prd 3:13|
|Montreal||0||2nd Prd 5:57|
|SE Missouri St||74||FINAL|
|Mount St Marys||58|
|New Mexico St||69||FINAL|
|Air Force||54||2nd Half 5:02|
|Nebraska||40||2nd Half 10:47|
|Colorado State||71||2nd Half 7:35|
|Boise State||56||2nd Half 12:07|
|San Jose St||34|
|San Diego St||18||1st Half 7:00|
|Oregon||21||1st Half 4:54|
|UC Santa Barbara||10:59 PM|
|Coll of Charleston||58||FINAL|
|William & Mary||68|
Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?