Daily Word: The wait is over, it's time to play
Every day, Andy Katz leads a panel of our college hoops experts in a discussion of the biggest issues, trends and themes happening in and around college basketball.
Andy Katz: Perimeter shooting. Both teams can make 3-pointers. This game will be won on the perimeter, not inside, even though Kentucky has the best low-post presence in Julius Randle.
Eamonn Brennan: On Friday, Bo Ryan spent a large portion of his news conference emphasizing his belief that basketball is, for all its complications, an essentially simple game. "There are different ways of tweaking this or doing that, but I still say this game boils down to two things: Get more shots, and better shots [than your opponent]," he said. That's exactly what Frank Kaminsky has been doing this postseason: getting lots of good shots. How Kentucky frustrates him on one end could be the biggest factor when Wisconsin has the ball. If Kaminsky plays well, and Wisconsin protects its defensive glass, the Badgers will win the game.
Katz: The offensive backboard. The guards are going to get their points either from long range or on drives to the basket. But whoever controls getting second-chance points off offensive rebounds will win the game.
Brennan: The matchup between Florida's defensive perimeter and UConn guard Shabazz Napier will draw the most attention, but I think Florida's No. 1-efficiency defense will ultimately have to do its best work after Napier has committed to a play -- rotating into help, closing out on shooters in the corner, staying connected on the defensive glass. Meanwhile, the Huskies' vastly underrated defense presents challenges of its own: It's really hard to get easy looks around the rim against that length. UConn will have its issues with Florida's defense, but if the Huskies do their own work defensively and keep it close, they'll happily roll their dice with Shabazz in the final moments.
Medcalf: Same thing, different player and team. It's simple. Can Florida defend against Napier and limit his trips to the free throw line while contesting his shots from the 3-point line? Every opponent UConn has faced thus far has failed in that mission.
3. You get one coach to call the last play in the final seconds Saturday night. Of these four, which one do you want in the huddle?
Katz: Tough call. All four coaches have made excellent coaching decisions during the tournament. But if forced to choose then I might lean toward John Calipari, who has given his Kentucky players the freedom to take a gamble and make a big-time shot.
Brennan: Calipari, Billy Donovan and Bo Ryan have résumés and acumen that speak for themselves, but Kevin Ollie is no slouch, either. In fact, the Huskies rank higher than any remaining team in points per possession after timeouts -- only 22 teams got more out of stoppages than did Ollie's. I'll take Donovan because he's brilliant at adding little wrinkles to Florida's usual offense to catch a defense unawares late in games. But there is no wrong answer here.
Medcalf: I want Ryan. He's won a bunch of games in the final minute throughout his career. He's a veteran who always has a trick up his sleeve. I'd pick him first.
The Latest Dish
Since seeding began in 1979, Florida is just the fourth team to enter the Final Four on a 30-game winning streak. The Gators' past four games, however, might be their most impressive.
They beat American, Pittsburgh, UCLA and Dayton by double digits all while holding each of those team to fewer than 70 points. Only two other teams in the history of the NCAA tournament have pulled that off: Michigan State in 2000 -- which won the title -- and Duke in 1999, which finished as the runner-up.
Games To Watch
The Huskies are hoping history repeats itself in more ways than one. They are the last team to beat the Gators -- in a one-point thriller on Dec. 2. The last three teams to beat an opponent in the regular season that it saw again in the national semifinal have walked away victorious, and two of the three went on to win the title.
Kentucky is just the fifth No. 8 seed to make the Final Four since the tournament expanded in 1985. Only two (Butler in 2011 and Villanova in 1985) won their semifinal game, while just one (Villanova) was crowned a champion.