Texas four-step: March Madness ends at Jerry’s World

Gabriel Agurcia, Correspondent

It is March Madness in the truest sense.

Over the final weekend in March, the Final Four was assembled. Aside from Florida and maybe Kentucky, it’s an unforeseen group.

Connecticut made it all the way to the semifinals for the second time in four years. And you know what they did the previous time?

Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, and a younger Shabazz Napier helped UConn win its third title in school history over the I-can’t-believe-they-made-it-to-consecutive-championship-games Butler Bulldogs.

The more I watch Napier, the more he reminds me of Walker. They are both smaller point guards, they can both take defenders off the dribble or hit from deep, and they both hit the big shots in crucial situations.

I found an interesting statistic on ESPN.com, which states the last two players to score or assist on at least 45 percent of their team’s made shots, and lead them to the Final Four, are Napier and, you guessed it, Kemba Walker.

It’s amazing how Napier can have absolutely nothing going, then hit a switch and be nearly unstoppable. He had a subpar offensive first half against Michigan State. But no more than four minutes into the second half, Napier drilled a contested three from the right wing, and the takeover had begun.

Wisconsin is the other team most people didn’t expect to make it this far, despite their No. 2 seed.

The Badgers have gone on one of the best runs in school history, reaching just their second Final Four. They’ve done it by putting the “O” in Wisconsin.

Over the last four seasons, Wisconsin hadn’t averaged more than 68 points per game. This year, they’re averaging 74 points per game. And it all stems from their 7 foot star, Frank Kaminsky.

Under Bo Ryan, Wisconsin has consistently had a big man who can play in the post and shoot from long range. What separates Kaminsky from past Badger giants like Jon Leuer and Greg Stiemsma, is his ball handling ability. Kaminsky can get around slower, big men, allowing him to get to the rim on his own, which creates scoring opportunities for himself, as well as for the deadly shooters Ben Brust and Josh Gasser.

With the help of Kaminsky, the Badgers have combined a potent offensive attack with their elite ball security, above-average foul shooting and solid defense.

Kentucky is the surprisingly, unsurprising team in this Final Four. They once again had the best recruiting class in the nation and were an early season top-5 team. However, Kentucky didn’t play to their potential for most of the season, falling to the bottom of the top-25.

Losses to Arkansas and LSU, highlighted their fickle performance, which culminated in an eight-seed. But John Calipari did something prior to the SEC Tournament, firing up the young Wildcats, who now look like every bit of the pre-season title contenders, many experts and analysts predicted they’d be.

They nearly defeated Florida for the SEC title, and that defeat has only given them more confidence throughout the Big Dance. When they knocked off Wichita State, whom I had winning the tournament, I knew this team was for real.

Wichita State is a gritty, relentless, chip-on-shoulder driven team, and I assumed the Wildcat freshmen would crumble under the shocker onslaught. They weathered the storm and are now taking part in their third Final Four in just four years.

As for Kentucky’s SEC rival, and the top overall seed in the tournament, Florida is right where they should be. As the top team in the country, anything less than a Final Four appearance would have been a disappointment. Billy Donovan has led his team to four straight Elite Eights, and to the first Final Four since they won the second of back-to-back titles in 2007.

Unlike that double champ Florida team of seven years ago, this Gator squad isn’t anchored by projected first-round talent. Scottie Wilbekin, although the SEC Player of the Year, isn’t expected to be sought after by any NBA teams.

Patric Young, Michael Frazier III, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete are all seen as quality players, but not much more than that. Hell, the only Gators scout to be thought to have a bright, professional future is freshman Chris Walker, and he’s barely played this season!

Despite the top seed and ranking, Florida plays like a ragtag group with something to prove.

This year’s Final Four has brought an eclectic set of teams to Arlington.

Will we see a fourth Florida-Kentucky clash? A rare seven-seed vs. eight-seed matchup? I can’t wait to find out.