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2014 Final Four National College Basketball Semifinal
7 Connecticut Huskies vs. 1 Florida Gators
Saturday, April 5th, 2014 6:05 PM EST on TBS
Game Line: Florida -6.5 Game Total: 126.5 (from JustBet)

Two of the better floor generals in the country square off on Saturday when Shabazz Napier and the Connecticut Huskies take on Scottie Wilbekin and the Florida Gators in the first national semifinal from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The UConn Huskies advanced to Saturday’s national semifinal with a 60-54 upset win over Michigan State. The Huskies held the Spartan to 39% shooting and hit 21 of 22 free throws to seal a trip to North Texas. Shabazz Napier’s leadership is reminiscent of Kemba Walker’s national title run in 2011. Napier is averaging 23.3 ppg in the tournament and is shooting an astounding 45.2% from beyond the arc. Forward DeAndre Daniels has also stepped up in the tournament averaging 17 points and 6.8 rebounds. Daniels is a great defender as well, as he and 7-footer Amida Brima are one of the better shot blocking duos, together averaging almost 4 blocked shots per game. The Huskies are averaging 71.9 ppg while shooting 44.8% from the field and have a 1.08 assist to turnover ratio. They can light it up beyond the arc as well, hitting 38.9% of their 3-point attempts. They are decent on the glass, averaging 35.4 rebounds per contest, and ranked 2nd in their conference in defensive rebounding. The Huskies are very sound on the defensive end, limiting their opponents 39.2% shooting and allowing 63.7 ppg.

The #1 seed Florida Gators advanced to Saturday’s matchup winning their 30th straight game defeating tournament ‘Cinderella’ Dayton 62-52. The Gators have been quite impressive on their way to the Final Four, winning their 4 games by an average margin of 12.2 ppg.  They are one of the top defensive squads in the nation holding their opponents to 39.9% shooting while allowing only 57.1 ppg. They are led by seniors Corey Prather (14.2 ppg) Scottie Wilbekin (12.6 ppg). Wilbekin is a great decision maker on offense with a 2.1 assist to turnover ratio and is an elite defender while averaging almost two steals per game. The Gators can light it up beyond the arc as well, hitting 36.2% of their 3-point attempts. Sophomore guard Michael Frazier II is one to watch, as he’s hitting 44.8% of his 3’s this season. On offense the Gators are averaging 71.0 ppg while shooting 46.3% from the field with a 1.20 assist to turnover ratio.

These two teams met on UConn’s home floor, with UConn coming out victorious via a buzzer-beater by Napier. I’m not going to factor revenge in this one, as this is the Final Four. Teams aren’t looking for revenge, their looking to advance. Simply put, UConn matches up well with Florida, and that’s why I’m grabbing the points with the Huskies on Saturday. UConn wasn’t expected to do much in the tournament by many of the so-called experts, and a team that is playing with house money and nothing to lose is extremely dangerous. During Florida’s tournament run, they have yet to play a team that plays a solid brand of defense. UConn can match Florida’s defensive intensity. An experienced player like Napier will be able to handle the full court press that Florida will bring. When UConn played Iowa State, I stated that even though UConn is in the new American Athletic Conference, they still bring a ‘Big East’ mentality. It’s a physical brand of basketball that Florida is not accustomed to. UConn is better in terms of rebounding margin, and I think they have the size to compete with Young and Finney-Smith in the paint. Florida hasn’t been challenged that much this season, while UConn is battle tested. Yes, Florida is the #1 seed. Yes, they’ve been dominant. Yes, they have won 30 games in a row. Who beat them last? The same team that’s going to beat them on Saturday.

UConn Huskies vs. Florida Gators Free NCAABB Pick: UConn +6.5 Under 126.5

UConn Huskies vs. Florida Gators Game Prediction: UConn 63 Florida 61

 

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