It’s no surprise that Florida is playing the Final 4, currently on a 30-Game winning streak. Their opponent will be the last team they lost to in Connecticut, the 7-seed. It’s only the second time that a 7-seed has made it to the Final 4 in the history of the current Tourney format. For the Fourth straight Game the Huskies will be underdogs, this time the line is at -6 for Florida.
Connecticut is legit, don’t let anyone tell you any different. With Shabazz Napier on the roster, the Huskies can win any Game they want. Napier is averaging just above 23 points per Game in the Tourney and in every Game it seems like he hits an NBA-range three in somebody’s face. The kid hits big shot after big shot. The question is, will that be enough against an extremely deep and talented Florida squad?
Sure, UConn already beat Florida this year, but that was a home Game and the Gators weren’t exactly in full form as it was only SCottie Wilbekin’s third Game of the year after suspension and Kasey Hill didn’t play. Remember, this is a team that hasn’t lost since that Game.
Going into the numbers, it was basically the Shabazz show as he went for 26 points with DeAndre Daniels putting in 14. The Gators didn’t play terrible, shooting 49% from the field, although they did have 16 turnovers. That’s definitely something Florida will have to keep in check here, as Michigan State found out.
Starting down low, Connecticut is coming off an incredible Game in which they only allowed eight shots in the paint against the Spartans. Despite being fairly weak, their height and length creates tons of problems. Phillip Nolan and Amida Brimah give up plenty of muscle to Patric Young, but their length is tough to prepare for. Daniels took out Branden Dawson last Game and will get Will Yeguete or Casey Prather in this one with Niels Giffey getting the other one.
On the other end, Daniels can be a problem, and if Giffey can find his shot, he’s someone Florida has to keep in check beyond the perimeter.
The backcOurt will be the matchup to watch with Napier and Ryan Boatright, but not just because of their offensive Game. Both guys have been feisty on the defensive end, giving opposing guards all kinds of issues. That’s where Wilbekin steps in for the Gators, who has turned it over only twice all Tournament. He’s a smart player that makes the right play more often than not. That’s going to be a huge factor in this Game and if Michael Frazier II is hitting his shots, UConn will be in trouble. The one guy you can’t leave open from three is Frazier.
But then will Florida be able to stop Boatright and Napier on the other end? Both guys are great at drawing fouls, shooting from distance and driving to the hole. Napier already had success against Florida earlier this season, so why not again? Billy Donovan probably has a few methods of stopping him to say the least.
For Florida, guys like Casey Prather and Dorian Finney-Smith will have to pick up their Game, something that hasn’t really happened in the Tourney so far. Whoever Giffey is guarding, that’s where the advantage will lie for the Gators. The rest of the Game will fall to Napier. If he continues to hit ridiculous shots, there’s no telling what this Huskies team can do.