Saturday night in the opening game of the 2014 Final Four, the East Region champion UConn Huskies will take on the top overall seed and South Region champion Florida Gators with the right to go to the Final Four on the line.
In just his second year at the helm in Storrs, head coach Kevin Ollie has jed UConn right back to the familiar place of being in line for a shot at the national title, and that’s due in large part to the play of the AAC Player of the Year, Shabazz Napier.
Napier has shown up for this team all season, and the tournament has been no different. While he has had some help from other key members such as Ryan Boatright and DeAndre Daniels, this team begins and ends with the tone that Napier sets.
However, they’re going to need a complete team effort on Saturday if they’re going to beat the streaking Gators for the second time this season. Yes, in case it slipped your mind, or you haven’t watched ESPN this week for whatever reason, UConn was the last team to defeat the Gators before they went on this amazing 30-game win streak they’re on.
Scottie Wilbekin, Casey Prather, Patric Young and the rest of the Gators are out for the ultimate revenge, with the ultimate prize on the line.
Date: April 5
Start Time: 6:09 PM ET
Location: Arlington, TX
Arena: AT&T Stadium
TV Info: TBS
Live Stream: March Madness Live
Prediction: While UConn did win that first meeting, it took a buzzer-beating shot by Napier to pull out the victory. For as much as this UConn team has improved since then, so have the Gators, which is why they’ve sustained a 30-game winning streak.
If the Huskies want a chance in this, they have to win the game on the glass and in transition. Steve Kerr expressed to me this week that UConn is the fastest team in this tournament. If they can beat the Gators on the fastbreaks and convert the buckets, they can walk away from this one with the win.
And they will do just that, 71-68.