Kentucky and Wisconsin are set to meet in the 2014 Final Four. The Wildcats are the lowest seeded team remaining, but they are expected to reach the national title game.
Even as a No.8 seed, Kentucky is favored over No.2 Wisconsin. At most Las Vegas sportsbooks, the Badgers are getting two points in their Saturday night game.
Despite not being named among the top seeds, the Wildcats have convinced many experts that they are the best team in the field. In the preseason, they were voted as the top team in the top 25 polls. After a disappointing regular season, the team, which is led mostly by freshmen, is finally proving the voters right. With wins against No.1 Wichita State, No.4 Louisville and No.2 Michigan, the country’s top recruting class is reaching its potential.
Wisconsin didn’t have anywhere near the same level of expectations. They started the year ranked No.20 in the AP Top 25. While they were predicted to be an NCAA Tournament team, they weren’t even chosen among the top clubs in the Big Ten. Michigan and Michigan State were selected among the most probable title contenders. Ohio State was also viewed as more of a threat to make the Final Four.
The Badgers haven’t beaten the same quality of opponents as Kentucky, during March Madness. Still, their road to the Final Four has been impressive, in its own right. Before defeating No.1 Arizona in the Elite Eight, Wisconsin blew out No.6 Baylor by 17 points. They also had the easiest time in the round of 64, defeating No.2 American, 75-35. In their second regular season game, Wisconsin beat Florida, who has just two losses on the season.
Both teams have gotten standout performances from their top players in the Big Dance. With Julius Randle on his way to being a top five pick in the NBA, the freshman is taking advantage, of what will likely be, his only NCAA Tournament appearance with Kentucky. In four games, he’s averaging 15.8 points and 12 rebounds, registering a double-double in each contest. Frank Kamisky has been just as important to Wisconsin, averaging 18.5 points, six rebounds and 1.8 blocks. In the last two games, he’s been extremely efficient, scoring 47 points on just 31 field-goal attempts.
There’s a good chance that the Kentucky-Wisconsin matchup will be the more exciting of the two Final Four games. The over/under has been set at 139.5, which is 13 points more than the Florida-UConn contest. The Wildcats have scored at least 74 points in their last three games, and the Badgers have their best offensive team in recent years.
Throughout the season, Wisconsin has been, consistently, one of the best teams in the nation. Other than a stretch in January that saw them lose five out of six games, the Badgers have been as good as anyone in college basketball. Despite their success, they are not as good as Kentucky, when the Wildcats are at their best. It’s only been four games, but John Calipari’s team appears to be peaking at the right time. All that matters is how they’re playing now, and that could be good enough to give them a national championship.