The No. 1-seeded Florida Gators get a chance to exact some revenge on one of two opponents to beat them this year when they take on the No. 7-seeded Connecticut Huskies on Saturday evening in the Final Four in North Texas. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:09 p.m. with national coverage provided by TBS. The Charm City Gators will host a watch party for the game at the Greene Turtle in McHenry Row. There will be free swag provided along with raffles for Turtle Bucks and other Greene Turtle merchandise, so come out and support the Gators as the battle the Huskies.
The second semifinal between Wisconsin and Kentucky is set for an 8:49 p.m. tip-off.
Should the Gators win, the Charm City Gators will host another viewing party for the National Championships game on Monday, April 7.
Florida (36-2, 18-0 SEC) outlasted No. 4 seeded UCLA in the Sweet 16, 79-68, and then ended No. 11-seeded Dayton’s Cinderella run in the Elite 8 with a 62-52 win to advance to its first Final Four since 2007. The Gators cut down the nets in Atlanta that season, marking back-to-back championship seasons for the Orange and Blue.
Scottie Wilbekin scored 23 points in the Elite 8 win over the upstart Flyers, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to put the Gators up 38-24 at the break. Classmate Patric Young added 12 points and grabbed six rebounds while Michael Frazier II hit two 3’s and ended with 10 points in the victory.
Wilbekin, the SEC Player of the Year, is averaging 13.4 points per game (ppg), behind only classmate Casey Prather (13.8 ppg). Frazier (12.6) and Young (10.8) are also averaging double figure points while SEC Sixth Man of the Year Dorian Finney-Smith has been a spark off the bench all year, averaging 8.9 ppg and 6.7 rebounds per game.
UConn (30-8, 12-6 AAC) ran out to big lead and then held off No. 3-seeded Iowa State, 81-76, in the Sweet 16, and then got past No. 4-seeded Michigan State, 60-54, in front of a pro-Husky crowd at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon. Shabazz Napier led all scorers with 25 points while also grabbing six rebounds in the win.
Napier is the heart and soul of the Huskies and led the team in scoring this season, averaging 17.4 points per game. He has hit 42.3% of his shots and is also shooting 85.9% from the free throw line. Napier hit the put-back runner with time expiring to defeat the Gators back on Dec. 2 in Storrs, Conn.
Florida, which is making its fifth Final Four appearance overall and fourth under Billy Donovan, has a 1-1 all-time record against Connecticut. Before the encounter earlier this season, the Gators and the Huskies met in the Sweet 16 of the 1994 tournament with the Gators taking a 69-60 overtime win. Florida is 3-1 all-time in the National Semifinals, dropping a 70-65 decision to Duke in 1994, but then earning wins over North Carolina (2000), George Mason (2006), and UCLA (2007).