The last four teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament all have been playing unbelievably and that is how they have reached Arlington Texas. All teams have strengths and weaknesses, NBA-DRAFT.COM will take you behind the identity of the teams to break down the keys to victory for each team on Saturday night.
How the Florida Gators can beat the Connecticut Huskies
Just as a reminder to all, the last team the UConn Huskies lost to was coach Billy Donovan's Florida Gators all the way back on December 2nd. So how can the Gators avenge their last loss? The first key is to make the Huskies shoot and attack you from inside of the 3-point line. UConn was a below average 2-point shooting team during the regular season but have raised their percentage to 47% from inside arc. Connecticut's leader on the court is Senior Guard, Shabazz Napier. Napier has been red hot during March and has averaged a solid 45% from inside the arc but also an outstanding 45% from downtown. Coach Kevin Ollie's biggest threat to score from inside of the arc is not Napier, but Junior Forward DeAndre Daniels. Daniels has shot 55% from inside of the 3-point line during the tournament. The Gators must not send Napier to the free throw line. Napier hits 87% of his free throws during the season and he has improved upon this during the tournament hitting a whopping 93%.
How the Connecticut Huskies can beat the Florida Gators
As previously stated, the Gators last loss was last year against this same UConn Huskies' team they play against Saturday night. The Huskies must not forget that victory and get off to a fast start to put that memory in the head's of all Florida Gators players, staff and fans. Florida is perhaps the best team in the country using ball-screen. These screen must be defended against by a team defense, not just by 1 or 2 players. UConn must continue to talk and communicate all night while on the defensive end of the court. The Huskies must be successful with their half-court offensive as Florida plays a great half-court defense. Florida throws a number of defensive looks at their opponents, including a 1-3-1 zone. UConn must recognize this early and attack the zone aggressively. Attaching the Gators' defense and getting to the line may be the key to victory because the strength of UConn is free throw shooting while the strength of Florida is not allowing opponents to get to the charity stripe. Lastly, UConn must know the personnel on the court at all times. Scottie Wilbeken and Michael Frazier II are their main 3-point threats. Do not let Frazier shoot from downtown, he has made 117 3-pointers, accounting for over 74 percent of his overall field goals. Casey Prather is not a shooter, everyone knows this. UConn must make pressure Prather and now allow him to be aggressive and get to the rim.
How the Wisconsin Badgers can beat the Kentucky Wildcats
Coach John Calipari has his Kentucky Wildcats firing on all cylinders and finally playing together just at the perfect moment. Don't forget that the Wildcats have knocked off Michigan, no.1 seeded Wichita State, and the defending champions, Louisville on their magical run to the Final Four. How can coach Bo Ryan, and the Wisconsin Badgers knock off the hottest team in the country? The Badgers must live up to their name given to them by a certain ESPN analyst, the "king of swing." Bo Ryan and his Wisconsin team employs a swing style offense. Wisconsin can play this style of offense well because all five players they put on the floor can all shoot, cut, catch and pass the rock. the Badgers normally play a 3-guard lineup which is a large reason they rarely turn the ball over. Frank Kaminksy has been the biggest matchup nightmare in the whole tournament. Kaminsky, a 7-footer can post up a small defender as well as step up and hit the 3-ball. Forward Sam Dekker can also do it all in a variety of ways. Dekker is a tough pesky defender, he can run the floor and can hit the 3. Rebounding and physical play is a large key for the Badgers, The Badgers are one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country, while the Wildcats are one of the best at gathering second chance points. Wisconsin must not allow Kentucky to get second chances on the offensive end. Wisconsin cannot allow the Wildcats to get to the line as often as they are used too. The Wildcats average 29 free throw attempts a game. To go along with sending Kentucky to the line, the Badgers' big men, Kaminksy and Dekker must avoid foul trouble.
How the Kentucky Wildcats can beat the Wisconsin Badgers
The Wisconsin Badgers do not have the winning streak that Florida has but, have won their last 13 out of 15 games. Those two teams who were able to beat Wisconsin give Kentucky their keys to beating this tough Wisconsin team. Kentucky must attack the Badgers' defense. While Frank Kaminsky is a matchup problem, he is only a decent shot blocker on the interior. Kentucky can attack the Wisconsin Defense and get to the foul line, while also knocking down 3-point shots. With this key, Kentucky can beat Wisconsin. The Badgers play a small lineup often playing 3 players at once who are 6 foot 3 or smaller. Kentucky must use their size, length and athleticism when being guarded by smaller defenders of Wisconsin. The Badgers do not commit many turnovers but, they also don't force many. When Kentucky is on defense, make very member of the Badgers, put the fall on the floor and step inside the 3-point line. If Wisconsin wants to shoot a contested shot from beyond the arc, let them, but make sure there is a defender in their face. Kentucky cannot allow their young team to get into foul trouble and put the Badgers on the line. Lastly, deny Kaminsky the Ball. If Kaminksky does not get the ball into his hands, the Badgers suddenly lose their greatest weapon. Denying Kaminksy the ball and boxing him out will not allow him to get offensive rebounds and easy put-backs. Wildcat's big man and uber-athelitc shot blocker Willie Cauley-Stein has not yet been ruled out but, has not yet been cleared to play in the Final Four. If Cauley-Stein cannot go for the Cats', they will need another big time, highly active game from Marcus Lee.