By The Numbers: The 2014 Final Four
Come Monday, it will be Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut or Kentucky cutting down the nets in Dallas, and according to numbers, anyone but the No. 1 overall seed Gators would be an "upset." The shortest "longshot," Wisconsin, was the No. 8 overall team, while either UConn (No. 26) or Kentucky (No. 29) could win it all despite numeration that says they should have peaked four rounds prior.
They say numbers never lie, but when it comes to the NCAA tournament, maybe they can fib a little. We'll see what they say below, as we go By The Numbers to look at the last men standing.
15: No matter who wins the national title, it will be collective No. 15 for the participants of the Final Four. Kentucky has won an NCAA-record eight titles, or two more than Connecticut (three), Florida (two) and Wisconsin (one) combined.
5: The above noted, this year's Final Four participants have won five of the last 10 National Championships. Kentucky won it last in 2012, Connecticut won in 2004 and 2011, and Florida won back-to-back-titles in 2006 and 2007.
63: While its three contemporaries have had a lot of recent success, Wisconsin's first, last and only national title came way back in 1941, when they beat Washington State, 39-34, to win the third-ever NCAA tournament.
2000: Besides that 1941 title, the Badgers had only even ever been to one other Final Four prior to this year, making a run to the national semifinals as a No. 8 seed before losing to eventual champion Michigan State.
30: Florida is 36-2 this season, and that run includes 30 straight wins, three of which have come against Kentucky (two in the regular season and one in the finals of the SEC Tournament).
2: The flip side of the Gators: their only two losses this season are at Wisconsin on Nov. 12 and at Connecticut on Dec. 2.
1: Connecticut was the No. 7 seed in the East region, and they are the first No. 7 to advance to the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
7: Between Kentucky and Connecticut, there are seven players left in the field who have won a national title already. For the Huskies, seniors Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey and Tyler Olander were all freshmen on the 2011 squad. Kentucky, meanwhile, has a mix of players; senior Jarrod Polson was a sophomore on the 2012 team, juniors Brian Long and Sam Malone were freshmen (with Malone staying active despite missing most of the year with a torn ACL), and redshirt senior Jon Hood was actually an upperclassman, but 2011-12 was his redshirt season because of a torn ACL.
75: The Wildcats run as a No. 8 seed is impressive as is, but they've earned their stripes by winning their last three games against 75 percent of last year's Final Four. Kentucky shocked 2013 national semifinalist (and 2014 No. 1 seed) Wichita State in the third round, downed defending national champs Louisville in the Sweet 16, and bested last year's runners-up, Michigan, in the Elite 8 -- and had it all worked out, it could have faced the last of the 2013 Final Four, Syracuse, in the National Championship Game.
10: Kentucky has actually won 10 straight NCAA tournament games, as the Wildcats did not make the "Big Dance" last year after winning the 2012 national title. They're also 14-1 over their last 15, as they made the Final Four in 2011 as well.