Plenty of noise was made this year about Warren Buffet’s Billion Dollar Giveaway, but after one weekend the magic died. With PERQ, however, two dealerships’ dreams are alive and well.
As you may know, we ran a promotion this March for auto dealers across the country, awarding $25,000 to one lucky customer at any dealership that correctly chose the winner of the NCAA Tournament. This weekend the Final Four is upon us and we have two dealers who still have skin in the game. A dealer in Indiana let it ride on Florida while a local Ohio dealer bet big on Kentucky.
We’re excited to see if they win. So excited, in fact, that we went ahead and did a team-by-team breakdown of this year’s Final Four so you know what to watch for this weekend.
Florida has been a predominant favorite for this year’s title since day one and not much has changed as the season has unfolded. With the fourth highest defensive efficiency in the country (first according to KenPom), Florida is a force to be reckoned with for the undersized Huskies. Combine that the excellent guard play of Michael Frazier II and Scottie Willbekin and the Gators are a tough draw for UConn.
In order to beat UConn and reach their 3rd championship game in the last ten years, Billy Donovan is going to need to design his defense to get the ball out of Shabazz Napier’s hands and his offense to establish Center Patric Young early.
UConn has been my favorite team to watch this March. Shabazz Napier has been the best player in this year’s tournament and his ability to take a game over in the final four minutes has made every round of this tournament memorable.
If they want to upset Florida, they’re going to need a big game from DeAndre Daniels, the 6’9” forward who ate Branden Dawson’s lunch against the heavily favored Michigan State, as well as the tenacity that Napier has brought this entire season.
As for X’s and O’s, don’t count out Kevin Ollie. The former NBA Journeyman may be going up against Donovan’s two rings, but he didn’t seem to have a problem tackling Izzo’s Championship pedigree. It’s also worth noting that the last time Florida lost (before rattling off 30 straight wins) was in December to Ollie’s Huskies. Did someone say upset alert?
This year’s Badgers team looks like a Bizzaro version of every Bo Ryan team I’ve ever watched. The classic grind-it-out, 30 second set offense has given way to a much more athletic, fast-paced offense that ranks 4th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Combine that with their X-Factor and resident shovel-face, Frank Kaminsky, and this is a squad that could easily bring hardware back to Madison.
In order to beat a hot Kentucky team, however, Bo Ryan is going to need to be at his Bo Ryan-est. Kentucky’s set of athletic wings can and will outrun this Badger squad and send them packing. If Wisconsin wants to advance, they’re going to need to slow the game down and let the Wildcats come to them.
It’s hard to call this particular 8 seed a Cinderella, but they’re dancing nonetheless. After a rocky regular season left basketball analysts everywhere questioning John Calipari’s one-and-done strategy, the young Wildcats have fought their way back into contention.
This season has been one of peaks and valleys for Big Blue Nation, but if there is any team with the horses to dominate this Final Four, it’s Kentucky. The question everyone will be asking heading into this weekend, however, is which Wildcats team will show up? Is this the top-5 Kentucky team that had title aspirations coming into the season or the mistake-prone Kentucky team that lost to a miserable South Carolina squad? If Cal can rally his troops to play like they did against Michigan, he could be in contention for his second title in three years.
So that’s a wrap on our Final Four preview. Keep an eye on our blog where we’ll be announcing winners from our March Mania promotion and (if I have my way) providing plenty of sports coverage in the future.
From Indianapolis, this is Tim Hickle, ESPN.