NCAA Tournament Betting: Florida-Kentucky Fourth Meeting Favored For Final
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | March 31, 2014
Only in college basketball can you have a team play an opponent four times a year: twice as conference opponents during the normal schedule, once in the conference tournament and potentially once in the NCAA Tournament. It’s rare but has happened before and it could again next Monday night outside of Dallas if Florida and Kentucky each win their Semi-Final games on Saturday. That would be somewhat ironic because the SEC was deemed the worst major conference in the nation this season and got only three teams into the Big Dance, with Tennessee being the third.
The Gators, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, face Connecticut in the first game Saturday night at AT&T Stadium. Florida has won a national-best 30 straight games and hasn’t much been challenged in this tournament. It beat No. 4 UCLA 79-68 in the super 16 and No. 11 Dayton 62-52 in the final eight to end a three-game losing streak in that round of the tournament.
Florida is the only team in the Semi-Final to have won all four of its NCAA Tournament games by at least 10 points (average of 12.2 per game) and also the only one to hold every opponent under 70 points. Coach Billy Donovan won national title in 2006 and ’07 but this has to be considered his best coaching job. Those clubs were stacked with future NBA stars like Joakim Noah and Al Horford. This team doesn’t have anyone like that.
UF is the tournament favorite at -110 and a 6-point favorite against Connecticut. Both Semi-Final games will feature Live Betting at the book. The seventh-seeded Huskies just so happen to be the last team to beat Florida. That was December 2 in Storrs when Florida was ranked 15th and UConn 12th.The Huskies won 65-64 on Shabazz Napier’s buzzer-beating jumper. He was the best player on the floor that day, finishing with 26 points. Florida’s Scottie Wilbekin, the SEC Player of the Year, left the game with 3:01 to play with an ankle injury.
Florida’s other loss this season? That would be to Wisconsin, which faces Kentucky in the other national semifinal. The No. 8 Wildcats opened as 1.5-point favorites over the No. 2 Badgers. That matchup couldn’t be much different. UK is a team of high school All-Americans who will all play in the NBA. Wisconsin typifies "team" and has maybe one player who will play at the next level in Frank Kaminsky.
Kentucky is the second-favorite at +250 to cut down the nets next Monday and is only the second eighth seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams to make the Semi-Final. Only one has won it: Villanova in 1985. UK advanced with a thrilling 75-72 win over Big Ten regular-season champion Michigan as freshman Aaron Harrison hit a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left. It was UK’s third straight win that went down to the final seconds. The Cats played Michigan without 7-foot sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein due to an ankle injury, but he might be able to return Saturday. The Cats are looking for their ninth title.
A UK-UF final is the favored matchup at +120 at Bovada. The Gators won the first three meetings. The first two were by double digits, but Kentucky only lost by a point to Florida in the SEC Tournament final. Two teams from the same conference haven’t met for the national championship since Kansas beat Oklahoma in 1988.