Frank Kaminsky has carried the Wisconsin Badgers through a tough tournament draw. (image via Rant Sports)

Since DCIAPC is the most consistently successful feature our site has had, perhaps because it’s the only consistent feature our site has had, we decided to make picks for the penultimate round of March Madness! We’ll predict both Final Four games (against the spread, as always, because those who pick games straight up should be decapitated) [not really] and see who comes out on top. Just so you know, the only part of this article that is always mandatory reading is Bob’s game analysis. Actually I’m not sure Bob will have the best analysis because we’ve never done this for basketball. Just read the whole damn thing, except my parts.


By now I’m almost sure you’ve heard of Buzzfeed, everyone’s favorite site which takes advantage of the short attention spans of our generation by churning out mindless “content” overladen with absurd superlatives so people think their work is meaningful. In honor of Buzzfeed, here are The Seven Absolutely Positively Best And Most Magnificent Things From March Madness Thus Far That You Will Be Happy You Didn’t Miss Because They Are Unforgettable And Will Inspire You:

THE SEVEN ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY BEST AND MOST MAGNIFICENT THINGS FROM MARCH MADNESS THUS FAR THAT YOU WILL BE HAPPY YOU DIDN’T MISS BECAUSE THEY ARE UNFORGETTABLE AND WILL INSPIRE YOU

 1. LOL white people, am I right??

2. OMG into the hoop!

3. Haha I don’t think they’re coming either!

 4. A Player Photobombed His Coach During A Sideline Interview After Advancing To The Final Four. What Happened Next Will Forever Change The Way You Look At College Athletics: [Now Go Share This On Facebook 942 Times]

5. LMAOOOOO more white people dancing

6. Three pointer!!!!

7. The boy and the man are dressed similarly!

Well, I sincerely hope you enjoyed those wonderful, awe-inspiring images. It took me at least fifteen minutes to compile them and think of random captions. Do I get 60,000 page views now?


Now, we can get down to business and writing that actually took work. You can get involved with this picks column by simply writing your picks in the comment section of this article. If making a WordPress account is just too physically taxing for you, feel free to tweet your picks at us or put them up in the comments on Facebook. Please note that Harry will not hesitate to make fun of you if your picks suck. The winner, who has the best pick record of the week, will get absolutely no prize or reward. If that’s not incredible motivation to get involved, I don’t know what is. Now for the games and lines on this upcoming Final Four Saturday: (As always, lines are from Bovada.lv)

Bob: ICYMI, check out my column in The Daily Northwestern about why we shouldn’t overanalyze March Madness, which is exactly what we are about to do.

#1 Florida (-6) vs. #7 UConn

Saturday, April 5th, 5:09 PM CST

The number one overall seed Florida Gators are coming in after disposing one of the easier Elite Eight opponents in recent memory with relative ease. Dayton made a great run in the tournament by taking advantage of offensively inept teams like Ohio State and Syracuse, but Florida simply had too much firepower for the Flyers.

The Gators rebounded over 36 percent of their misses against Dayton, led by sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith who finished with six offensive boards. This led to multiple easy buckets and allowed Florida to overcome their below-average shooting performance from the field (37.5 percent).

I’d love to give a focused breakdown of what Florida does best on defense, but they simply do everything at an elite level. Kenpom has their defense as the best in the country, suffocating opponents to the tune of  A consistent bunch, Florida has ranked in the top ten of Ken Pomeroy’s college basketball rankings since mid-February, and this team is by all means the favorite to win the tournament.

Four Factors eFG % OREB % TO % FTA/FGA
Florida Offense 52.5 (46) 35.5 (31) 17.5 (115) 42.4 (107)
UConn Offense 51.5 (86) 30.6 (202) 17.2 (96) 39.0 (209)

On the other side, this University of Connecticut team has given plenty of people flashbacks to their National Championship-winning 2011 team. Those Huskies went on an incredible eleven game winning streak through the Big East and NCAA tournaments in spite of an average regular season. Their star guard Kemba Walker completely carried the offense, using 31.4 percent of their possessions and taking 32.9 percent of their shots. Though Kemba was the clear leader of that offense, there were still a couple other fantastic backcourt players on that team including Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier.

Napier, the second or third-best player on that team, now carries the 2014 offense just like Kemba did. Shabazz uses 28.2 percent of the Huskies’ possessions and hit the game-winning shot when UConn beat the Gators back in December. Ryan Boatright is the second member of UConn’s dynamic backcourt, but nobody does as much for this team as Shabazz.

Four Factors eFG % OREB % TO % FTA/FGA
Florida Defense 45.0 (22) 28.5 (45) 21.4 (23) 31.2 (22)
UConn Defense 44.7 (18) 32.9 (286) 19.6 (84) 35.3 (64)

This UConn team thrives on the defensive end of the court, rejecting shots better than most teams in the country (11th in the country in Block %) and generally causing havoc on two-point field goals (Seventh in the country in opponent 2-pt field goal %). UConn is also deadly with a lead, as they shoot 77.4 percent on free throws for the season (Fourth in NCAA) and are even better than that in the tournament thus far.

UConn was the last team to beat the Gators this season, but the Gators were notably missing star point guard Scottie Wilbekin in that game. Kenpom gives the Huskies just a 26 percent chance of pulling off the upset on Saturday.

#2 Wisconsin vs. #8 Kentucky (-2)

Saturday, April 5th, 7:49 PM CST

After Nick Johnson forgot how to count and tossed up a last-second shot after the buzzer, Bo Ryan’s Badgers became the first Wisconsin team to advance to the Final Four since 2000. Ryan had previously only gone as far as the Elite Eight with UW, but his team this year seemed to reflect a change in style.

Though Ryan’s offenses has always been decent, he’s never been at the helm of an elite group of scorers. This year, in spite of their slow tempo, Wisconsin has proven themselves capable of putting up points as well as any team in the country. Ken Pomeroy’s formula ranks the Badgers fourth in the nation in offensive efficiency, their highest mark since at least 2003, as far back as his data goes.

Here’s what the Badgers do well: Wisconsin never turns the ball over– their 12.7 percent turnover rate ranks second in the country, by far the best among the teams remaining in the tournament. The Badgers also shoot the lights out– they rank better than 60th in the country in all three types of shooting (2-pt %, 3-pt %, FT %). Their only real offensive struggle lies in their rebounding rates, but they clearly sacrifice offensive rebounds to prevent fast breaks and transition buckets for opposing teams. When the only thing you’re bad at is something you intentionally avoid, you’re doing pretty well.

Four Factors eFG % OREB % TO % FTA/FGA
Wisconsin Offense 53.3 (32) 28.2 (274) 12.7 (2) 42.7 (99)
Kentucky Offense 50.0 (145) 42.5 (1) 18.3 (174) 52.2 (9)

As is typical of a Bo Ryan team, Wisconsin’s defense is as suffocating as ever. They excel at forcing the opponent into two point-jumpers and subsequently defending those shots. Opponents are forced to acquire nearly 60 percent of their points inside the arc against UW, fifth most in the NCAA. These points don’t come easily, because Wisconsin contests opponents into 45.7 percent shooting from two point land, 68th best in the NCAA. Curiously, despite their top five offense and defense, the Kentucky Wildcats have been favored by all the major sportsbooks in their Final Four matchup.

Kentucky has had the hardest run to the Final Four of any team that I can remember, knocking off teams ranked fifth, tenth and third in Kenpom in a row. Now, they’ll get the sixth-ranked Kenpom team, but one that will perhaps be their greatest challenge yet on their meteoric rise back into the national spotlight.

The preseason number one due to John Calipari’s incredible recruiting efforts, it took quite a while for this UK team to gel. They hit rock bottom at the end of their regular season, losing three of their last four including a loss to South Carolina and a blowout defeat at the hands of Florida. Since then, the Wildcats seem to have gotten their act together, culminating in a beautiful Aaron Harrison rainbow three to beat the Michigan Wolverines in the Elite Eight.

Kentucky’s offense pairs old-school shooting ability with new-school athleticism. The Wildcats get just below 21 percent of their points from outside the arc, which makes their success pretty incredible in an era when high-volume three-point shooting teams have seemingly taken over. Kentucky doesn’t have a single player who shoots over 36 percent from the shortened college three-point line, and the ones who are close are there largely because of their recent hot shooting (which I’ll touch on more later).

Instead, these Wildcats play a lot of isolation basketball. Their incredible athletes get to the basket more easily than most teams, which results in a plethora of free throws. Kentucky doesn’t shoot their freebies well, but they take so many free throws that more of their points come from the line (26.3 percent) than on threes (20.5 percent).

Four Factors eFG % OREB % TO % FTA/FGA
Wisconsin Defense 47.0 (73) 27.2 (13) 15.6 (322) 26.9 (3)
Kentucky Defense 45.8 (35) 29.9 (109) 16.1 (301) 37.2 (105)

Lastly, when they don’t get foul calls inside, the Wildcats are the best offensive rebounding team in the NCAA. Kentucky grabs nearly 43 percent of their misses. The next highest offensive rebounding rate left in the tournament is Florida’s, which is just under 36 percent. Kentucky’s star player is Julius Randle, who boasts top-40 offensive and defensive rebounding rates and draws more fouls than any player left in the tournament. He is an absolute monster inside and Wisconsin will almost certainly have trouble containing him in the paint. Randle is the type of player nearly always referred to as “a load.”

On defense, Kentucky uses their length and athleticism to force tough shots and frequently block them. Kentucky has the highest average height of any team in Division-I basketball (six-foot-five, if you’re curious) which makes openings in their defense pretty hard to find. This is as close a team as college basketball has to the Mon-Stars.

Kenpom predicts a 70-69 win for Wisconsin in this game, and gives the Badgers a 55 percent chance of victory. Vegas, which typically agrees with Kenpom, has Kentucky as a two point favorite because of the rapid growth of their talented freshmen.

THE PICKS

Matt’s Picks

Hi! So the Buzzfeed portion of this article took me fifteen minutes. The game previews took me about an hour apiece. Guess which one would get more page views if they were posted separately? Have I driven the point home unnecessarily hard yet?

UConn (+6) over Florida

While my analysis for the other game is mostly stat-based, this one is more of a gut feeling. In fact, the stats would probably lead me to pick Florida in this matchup, even with the six-point spread. It’s hard for any lower seed to advance in the tournament without a good amount of luck. For UConn, this has come in the form of incredible free throw shooting.

Over  the course of the season, UConn has been a consistently excellent free throw shooting team. By the end of the regular season, they ranked ninth in the country in free throw percentage, finishing at 76.1 percent. Since the NCAA tournament began however, UConn has shot 88 percent (!!!) from the free throw line. Not only is this highly unlikely for UConn, no team in basketball would be capable of shooting that well from the free throw line over the course of a season.

Luckily for the Huskies, all they need is two more games of elite free throw shooting to give themselves a real shot at the title. Regression to the mean would suggest that UConn will undergo an average day of shooting at the line against Florida: I’m going to go in a different direction though.

Shabazz Napier has been shooting the lights out in this tournament, including 45 percent shooting from long distance. He should be confident and ready to dominate the heavily-favored Florida Gators again, especially after his game-winner last time. I’m banking on Shabazz and Ryan Boatright to draw a bunch of fouls (and make a bunch of free throws) to loosen up Florida’s interior defense and open up opportunities for easy buckets. If Shabazz gets going in this game, and it’s hard to imagine he won’t, the Gators are certainly going to have their hands full.

Lastly, it has seemed as though the Gators have lacked a bit of a killer instinct in this tournament. They let 16-seed Albany hang around far too long and 11-seed Dayton, who was down by 13-15 nearly the entire game, was able to cut it to single digits late and outscored the Gators 16-9 over the final ten minutes. If they’d made a couple more of their open threes, we very well may have seen a massive upset in the Elite Eight. While there’s certainly a few flaws in this logic (or lack thereof), I have a decent feeling about UConn here. By way of a backdoor cover, a close loss, or even a win, I feel like the Huskies will be able to cover the spread.

Wisconsin (+2) over Kentucky

I have yet to pick Kentucky to beat the spread in a single one of their tournament games save Kansas State, when I didn’t care enough to make a sincere pick. One may think I would learn from my lesson and select Kentucky to beat the Badgers, but I refuse to believe that Kentucky will continue to shoot this well. Let me explain, with the help of CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish:

I actually considered writing this article a few days ago, but Gary did all the work for me! To sum it up, the main reason Kentucky advanced past Wichita State, Louisville, and Michigan, all teams who would beat them the majority of the time, was because of uncharacteristically good three point shooting.

It seems that nearly everybody wants to point to the play of Julius Randle or the coaching excellence of John Calipari when explaining the Wildcats’ run. To be sure, those other factors have played a part in Kentucky’s stellar performances, but since the end of the regular season Kentucky has been shooting a higher volume of three point shots and making them at a higher percentage. They’ve been hitting threes at a near-40 percent clip in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, up from just 32% in the regular season. And since they’ve been attempting so many threes, their offense’s efficiency has skyrocketed.

Kentucky has essentially been playing Russian Roulette by taking a higher volume of threes than would be dictated by the talent of their players. This is part of what makes the tournament so exciting and so unpredictable. Any team can advance by simply nailing their long-distance shooting. One of these games though, there’s a rather high probability that the hot-shooting Wildcats will draw a blank. If that happens, the other team will have a great opportunity to pull the trigger on Kentucky. I’m betting that other team is the Badgers.

Bob’s Picks

Matt carried this whole thing with his entertaining Buzzfeed-like introduction as well as analysis that I could only make if I made an annual payment to Mr. Pomeroy. I don’t know what happened with Harry’s inner monologue or whatever was happening (see below), but that’s just DCIAB for you. Also, I need to teach these rascals that periods and commas always go inside quotation marks and adverbs (in most cases) do not require hyphens. Matt: Thanks Bawbie.

Florida (-6) over UConn

Honestly, either of these games could really go either way. As I mentioned in my Daily column, both games are high-variance, one-game samples between top teams that each could easily win. I certainly would not put money on either of these games nor am I confident in either of my picks, but I still will explain who I think will win.

Some of the laziest analysis I have ever seen is when analysts say, “I’m taking ____ because they were my championship pick.” That’s kind of like saying “I’m taking ___ because I’m taking them,” yet even worse because the pick is contingent on previous analysis rather than current analysis. Anyway, I’m taking Florida because of the same reasons they have been my champion for months. Their talent and depth exceeds those of every other team in the country except possibly Kentucky, but unlike Kentucky, the Gators have proven time and again that we can trust them.

People picking this game like to point to Florida’s relatively unconvincing wins, but I guess Connecticut’s almost-undeserved overtime win versus ten-seeded Saint Joseph’s did not happen. Connecticut definitely has had a run of impressive wins, but I find it hard to believe that they will not regress, as Matt mentioned above.

Everything Matt said in his pick for Connecticut makes sense and is totally valid. I too think the Huskies could easily pull this one out or at least cover, but I like Florida’s talent, depth, and coaching over Connecticut’s.

Wisconsin (+2) over Kentucky

This one is perhaps even harder for me. In Kentucky’s big wins this tournament, they were able to control the post with their far superior size and talent. Quite simply, I don’t think they will be able to do that as well against Wisconsin, especially with Frank Kaminsky tearing it up right now. I trust Bo Ryan to be able to outcoach John Caterpillar and his band of SAT-cheating freshmen, and I also trust Kentucky’s three-point shooting to regress, as Matt also mentioned. Although the spread is effectively nothing, I was still surprised to see Kentucky as the favorite.

Harry’s Picks

As you can tell from his above writeup and his statistically complex and nuanced articles over at The Champaign Room, Matt clearly doesn’t know anything about basketball and I’m here to tell you a very important fact: statistics DO NOT MATTER AT ALL. All that matters is The Will To Win (TWTW). With that in mind, here are my very insightful picks:

Florida (-6) over UConn

I honestly just made this pick so I could pick against Matt to prove that my way of choosing games (TWTW!!) is better than his and a one-game sample would definitely be proof of that. Florida’s TWTW this year has been on another level from every other team in the country because they have the most wins, so that obviously just means they want to win more than every other team. That’s HEART and that’s how you win in sports. How many World Series titles does Houston Rockets GM and statistics-proponent Daryl Morey have? Or how about everyone’s favorite little Jewish statistician, Theo Epstein? He’s never won an NCAA Tournament, NBA championship, Stanley Cup, Super Bowl or the Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket. It’s all hogwash. The Gators cover the spread. Also, can we please get rid of video replay review in baseball? I hate all of the calls we’ve already corrected and not allowed to change the outcome of a game unfairly. WHAT ABOUT THE HUMAN–

Wisconsin (+2) over Kentucky

–ELEMENT?!?! Oh right, I’m supposed to be making college basketball picks here; thanks bolded alter-ego forcing me to make picks.

You’re welcome.

Man, I love this little bolded alter-ego bit. It’s so original!

You so original and such good writer Harrie.

My bolded alter-ego dropped out of school in fourth grade.

Long division hard no?

No. No, it’s not. Wait, how did you use the correct “you’re” three lines ago when you can’t even use basic grammar?

Make pick alredee.

Fine, fine. Frank Kaminsky’s TWTW is simply too strong for Kentucky.

What about his absurdly high rebound rate, ability to step out to the perimeter and knock down jump shots and his terrific interior defense that bolsters the Badgers?

 

 

 

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