Skip to content

Final Four Primer: Are we headed for an SEC title game rematch?

Mar 31, 2014, 12:29 AM EDT

AP Photo AP Photo

That was fun, wasn’t it?

The tournament’s thrilling first weekend led to an exhilarating, heart-wrenching, I-have-no-more-fingernails-left second weekend which has given us a Final Four that includes a No. 7 seed and a No. 8 seed, even though those two team just so happen to have won two of the last three national titles.

We’ll be churning out preview and review content all week long, but for now, here is our Final Four primer:

SATURDAY’S SCHEDULE:

  • 6:09 p.m. ET: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 7 UConn (TBS)
  • 8:49 p.m. ET: No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Kentucky (TBS)

FOUR STORY LINES TO FOLLOW:

1. Kentucky has now reached the Final Four for the third time in the past four years. And while the last two times they made it this far the Wildcats relied on veterans just as much as they did freshmen, this group starts five players that were in high school a season ago. That’s a story in and of itself, before you even touch on the fact that the Wildcats didn’t start playing like a title contender until the start of this tournament.

2. Kemba Walker quickly became one of the most popular UConn Huskies in the history of the program when he led them to the national title in 2011. Shabazz Napier, who started along side Kemba during that tournament run, is looking to do the same for the Huskies this season, a year after the program was more or less left for dead.

MORE: Kevin Ollie’s revival of UConn | Michigan State’s trying season ends¬†| Aaron Harrison tho

3. Billy Donovan has won two national titles in his career. He’s two wins away from his third.

4. Bo Ryan and his father, Butch, were incredibly tight. They made an annual tradition of going to the Final Four as fans because Bo had never gotten there as a coach. He made his first Final Four this season. His father passed away in August.

WHO WERE NBCSPORTS.COM’S¬†REGIONAL MVPS?

  • 1. Shabazz Napier (East Region): 23.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.5 apg, 2.0 spg, 14-31 3’s, 25-27 FTs
  • 2. Aaron Harrison (Midwest Region): 16.0 ppg, game-winners in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8.
  • 3. Frank Kaminsky (West Region): 19.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 66 points in his last three games
  • 4. Scottie Wilbekin (South Region): 16.8 ppg, 3.0 apg, 9-24 3’s

FINAL FOUR POWER RANKINGS:

1. Florida: The Gators entered the tournament as the No. 1 team in the country and the No. 1 overall seed, and they’ve rolled through their first four games without really being tested. They can lock up defensively and they have Scottie Wilbekin for crunch time. They have to be considered the favorite until they lose.

2. Kentucky: To be frank, I toyed with the idea of putting Kentucky at No. 1 on this list. That’s how well they’re playing right now, and there isn’t even an assurance that Willie Cauley-Stein will be available. There is a reason that we all had this team at No. 1 in the country in the preseason, and they’re finally playing like it.

RELATED: All of our coverage from the NCAA tournament’s second weekend

3. Wisconsin: We didn’t think that the Badgers would be able to get past Arizona, but they did thanks almost entirely to the play of Frank Kaminsky, who now holds the title of the most difficult matchup left in the tournament. Will the Wildcats find a way to slow him down?

4. UConn: The run that the Huskies have made to the national title game just doesn’t make all that much sense when you think about it. Shabazz Napier has been outstanding all season long, but Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels were pillars of inconsistency. The last two weeks, however, they’ve been terrific.

AND WHO WILL BE CUTTING DOWN THE NETS IN NORTH TEXAS?: Florida. Right about now I’m really regretting ignoring the fact that they have been the best team in the country for the past two months.

Latest Posts
  1. Five-star Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson cancels visit and sets official to Duke

    Jul 31, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    Duke gets a huge official visit in late August from a five-star guard.

  2. UCLA gets commitment from Class of 2019 guard and brother of five-star commitment

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    LaMelo Ball, a 13-year-old guard, committed to UCLA like his two older brothers.

  3. Michigan State guard returns from multiple foot injuries

    Jul 31, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    Maryland v Michigan State Getty Images

    Michigan State sophomore guard Javon Bess will try to stay healthy and in the rotation next season.

  4. Richmond lands its second 2016 commitment of the week

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Chris Mooney - UR AP

    Both are perimeter players, giving the Spiders additional depth moving forward.

  5. Four-star combo guard trims list to five schools

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Rivals Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Rivals

    McLaughlin de-committed from Washington in mid-May, but the Huskies remain in the mix.

  6. Appeals court grants stay of injunction in O’Bannon lawsuit

    Jul 31, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    ed o'bannon Getty Images

    The injunction would have allowed current and future players to be compensated for the uses of their names, images and likenesses.

  7. Kentucky announces plans for alumni game against former North Carolina players

    Jul 31, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT

    150731-UK-UNC Getty Images

    The two programs are ranked first and third, respectively, on the NCAA all-time wins list.

  8. Shooting guard Maverick Rowan’s junior season highlight video

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:07 AM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Louisville, NC State, St. John’s and West Virginia remain in the running for his pledge.

  9. Three-star guard Myles Powell trims list to eight

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Getty Images Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Getty Images

    Powell’s recruiting profile has risen thanks to the way he’s played throughout the summer.

  10. Power forward becomes Iowa’s second 2016 commitment

    Jul 30, 2015, 6:56 PM EDT

    Fran McCaffery AP

    With Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury being seniors, having two front court commits in 2016 is good news for the Hawkeyes.

  11. Italy trip comes at good time for young Stanford team

    Jul 30, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT

    Johnny Dawkins AP

    The Cardinal need to account for the loss of their top three scorers (and top two rebounders) from last season’s NIT champion team.

  12. Valparaiso star center receives extra year of eligibility

    Jul 30, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Crusaders are getting back the league’s defensive player of the year.

  13. Throwback Thursday: Donnie Tyndall’s only NCAA tournament win (VIDEO)

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:25 PM EDT

    Murray St Morehead St Basketball AP

    Tyndall’s one NCAA tournament win sure was memorable.

  14. Steady improvement turning Alize Johnson into valued Division I prospect

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT

    Alize Johnson Alize Johnson

    The cousin of former Pitt forward Chevon Troutman has developed into a quality recruit himself.

  15. Report: SMU’s Larry Brown up against ‘lack of coach control’ charge

    Jul 29, 2015, 11:40 PM EDT

    Larry Brown AP

    According to the report SMU met with the NCAA Committee on Infractions last month.

  16. BYU lands third 2016 commitment in 6-foot-6 guard/forward

    Jul 29, 2015, 10:35 PM EDT

    Connor Harding, Zach Hillman AP

    Harding won’t join the program until 2018 however, as he’ll be taking his two-year LDS mission beforehand.

  17. Marquette coaches discuss daily ‘noon ball’ tradition (VIDEO)

    Jul 29, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Director of player personnel Travis Diener is pegged as the best player in the games, with he and assistant Chris Carrawell trading some good-natured shots at each other.

  18. ACL tear sidelines San Diego State guard Matt Shrigley

    Jul 29, 2015, 8:17 PM EDT

    Matt Shrigley, Grayson Allen AP

    Only Aqeel Quinn, who’s out of eligibility, made more three-pointers for the Aztecs last season than Shrigley.