Crowning a champ before it starts


ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's about to get real in Jerry's World.

The college basketball season doesn't end with much controversy. You win six in a row, seven if you start with the First Four, and you're rewarded with a national championship. That's obviously not an easy task.

But it also ensures that the team on the podium Monday deserves the crown. No computers or polls. Just basketball.

Now, it's time to predict what we'll see this weekend at the Final Four.

This is the future.

Unless it's not.

See these Bold Predictions and additional Sweet 16 Bold Predictions for more.

It's just not easy to sort through this chaos. Mercer? Wisconsin, not Michigan State or Michigan, representing the Big Ten in the Final Four? Kentucky? Huh?

Kentucky-Florida makes the most sense for a Monday matchup to decide the 2013-14 national champion. But you could argue that Wisconsin beat the best team in the field with its overtime win against Arizona last weekend. And nothing involving the team from Storrs, Conn., seems beyond reason entering Saturday's Florida-UConn rematch.

Shabazz Napier has put together a string of performances that deserve their own "One Shining Moment" montage. Who can doubt a 6-foot-1, 180-pound guard who is averaging 23.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game in the NCAA tournament.

Yes, the Huskies can win this thing, too.

Here's a breakdown of what might happen in Dallas.

Emphasis on the word might.

OK, this will happen. Count on it.


Kentucky vs. Wisconsin

What would happen if Kentucky could stretch the floor? What if opponents couldn't cheat and stack the paint to throw numbers at Julius Randle and Kentucky's big men because the Wildcats had become a legit outside threat, something that seemed laughable when they shot just 32 percent from the 3-point line in SEC play? Those were valid questions about John Calipari's team entering the NCAA tourney. The genius of this Kentucky evolution extends beyond the tantalizing lottery-pick-like turns of Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison. It's bigger than Dakari Johnson's soul-stirring breakout or Marcus Lee's awakening. This change, this switch, this tourney, this game centers on spacing. For both teams.

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