Crowning a champ before it starts

But this game isn't just "Can Wisconsin stop Kentucky?" "Can Kentucky stop Wisconsin?" is valid, too. This is not your older brother's Wisconsin offense. The Badgers have been ranked fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy data, this season. It's still not clear how Kentucky will deal with Frank Kaminsky. The 7-footer has made 38 percent of his 3-point attempts this season. He creates mismatches and interrupts defensive flow with his versatility and mobility. Kentucky doesn't have any great options to lock him up. Randle is big enough, but is he quick enough? Poythress can probably stay in front of him, but he'll give up four or five inches. Kaminsky had 28 points and 11 rebounds against a strong defense over the weekend. Plus, this young Kentucky team hasn't faced a player like this. Kaminsky is unique. He'll find a rhythm early. And a Wisconsin team that has shot 37 percent or better from the 3-point line in three of its four tourney wins will follow his lead. This won't be a blowout. Sam Dekker, Traevon Jackson, Ben Brust, Nigel Hayes and the rest of this Badgers roster will make this a brawl. They'll make it ugly and test Kentucky's will in a game that won't be decided before the final two minutes. One of Wisconsin's advantages, it would seem, will be its ability to dictate the pace of Saturday's game. But Kentucky just beat Michigan in a 57-possession affair. The Wildcats registered 1.32 points per possession in that game. That's serious. And no Final Four team has defeated a better slate or faced more variety to this point. As disciplined and talented as Ryan's Badgers team has been in the postseason, Kentucky is just on another level right now.

Prediction: Kentucky 72, Wisconsin 67


Florida vs. Connecticut

Can anyone stop Shabazz Napier? His effort against Michigan State -- 25 points, 9-for-9 from the free throw line, 4-for-9 from the 3-point line line, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal -- was the definitive performance in an NCAA tournament that has been filled with bright nights. Napier has been on a mission and he has carried Kevin Ollie's squad with him. Florida understands the dilemma it will encounter Saturday as well as anyone. The Huskies were the last team to defeat the Gators. It's fair to cite the differences between this weekend's rematch and that Dec. 2 nonconference contest.

Scottie Wilbekin suffered an ankle injury in the final three minutes of a matchup that UConn won via Napier's buzzer-beater. But Florida also shot 49 percent from the field. Wilbekin, Patric Young and Casey Prather registered 51 points combined in that game. Napier (26 points, 5-for-8 from the 3-point line), however, was just too much. Wilbekin, one of the top on-the-ball defenders in America, is healthy now. He'll do a better job of pressuring Napier, whose first step allows him to burst past defenders off high ball screens or in isolation. Napier has shredded the field in part because he has been on fire from the 3-point line (12-for-23 in the past three games), drawn fouls and earned trips to the free throw line (25-for-27 in the tourney).

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