This Saturday, the experts pick the Final Four games with Florida holding a -6.5 number against Connecticut while the surging Wildcats host a -2.0 handicap against Wisconsin.
Who Did The Experts Pick In the UConn Vs. Florida Final Four Matchup?
One of the biggest storylines heading in to the matchup between Florida and UConn the difference in coaching. Billy Donovan has been at the helm of Florida’s basketball turnaround for the past 18 seasons, and is undeniably one of the best coaches in the game. He has built a fortress using seniors Patric Young and Scottie Wilbekin, and it’s the latter who has the more difficult matchup.
“When you combine Wilbekin’s one-on-one defense with the Gators’ ability to close off pick-and-roll plays as a group, Florida looks like the obvious pick.” – Eamonn Brennan (ESPN)
The experts pick the Final Four based on the information available, and Wilbekin is a hound on defense. This much is certain. But Shabazz Napier has come in to his own as a scoring machine and inevitably you have to remember that a basketball game is won by the team that scores more points. Nobody has been able to stop Napier lately, and the Huskies have gone a defiant 3-0 ATS in their last 3 games as underdogs.
Which brings us back to the experience of the coaching staffs. Former NBA big man Kevin Ollie has turned the whole notion that ‘coaches with experience need to be present to win a championship’ on its head. By comparison, Donovan’s 18 years, Bo Ryan’s 30 seasons and John Calipari’s 26 as a head coach overshadow Ollie’s two years as a head coach. The guy was playing in the NBA four years ago!
“Ollie is now two wins away from a title in only his second season as a head coach, meaning he’s already made every AD with an opening who limits his pool of potential candidates to men with "previous head-coaching experience" look silly.” – Gary Parish (CBSsports.com)
For the Huskies to beat Florida, Ollie will have to outcoach Donovan’s Gators using a lesser team overall while leaning on his star player to penetrate and breakdown the best defense in college basketball. When most of the experts pick the Final Four, they’re going to air on the side of caution and back the old addages like “defense wins championships” and “experience is necessary”.
UConn, Ollie and Shabazz will be out to prove that all that is nonsense.
Well, at least this season anyways.
Who Did The Experts Pick In the Kentucky Vs. Wisconsin Final Four Matchup?
Guys like Frank Kaminsky don’t come along that often. This entire season, he’s been the leading scorer on Wisconsin and it’s best player bar none. The problem is that Wisconsin is about as unsexy as basketball teams get and there was a bedlam of hype raised concerning the incoming freshman class. Instead it’s been the senior forward who has stolen the spotlight.
Kaminsky is a former point-guard who had a massive growth spurt. In the process of all that he has transformed from a technically sound ball handler on the perimeter to a matchup nightmare in the post. He will be tough for any of Kentucky’s big men to guard.
“Other big men at the Final Four may be stronger, more fluid or more explosive than Kaminsky, but none are more responsible for carrying their team to Arlington than Wisconsin’s skilled but gangly 7-foot junior.”
-The Dagger (Yahoo! Sports)
Sentimentality always creeps in when experts pick the Final Four and it’s hard not to fall in love with Kaminsky’s style of play. He can drown you from range or outwork you in the post. But saying that he has proven his worth after just two breakout games is too heavy handed. At some point, talent rises to the top and Kentucky has loads.
“Of the 33 players Athlon Sports tracked, 12 were five-star prospects according to Rivals.com. Seven of them play for Kentucky. Kentucky’s entire starting five is made up of five-star prospects. The rest of the Final Four has only three starters who were five-star prospects” – David Fox (FOXSports)
It’s not just that Kentucky has so many good players, they have a ton of bodies to throw at Kaminsky throughout the night. I know that Kaminsky just eviscerated a deep Arizona frontcourt, but there’s a difference when it comes to the ferocity and pace that these Wildcats attack you with. Kaminsky is not a great defender ad dealing with a huge hustler like Julius Randle or Marcus Lee could very well bury hi in foul trouble. The experts who pick the Final Four are concentrating more so on Kaminsky’s offensive game than his defensive capabilities.
Let’s just say that he can’t score many points if the Wildcats are bullying him down low to the point that he has to be benched for early fouls. Talent doesn’t always prevail in college basketball, but when god given ability is given the right blueprint for success it can have resounding results. That’s why you shouldn’t listen to anyone who tells you to back the Badgers as +2.0 point dogs this Saturday when the experts pick the Final Four.