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April 3, 2014

A guide to the Final Four

Final FourGUIDE

The invitation to this year’s Final Four seemed to have specific rules: No upstarts or Cinderellas. Big boys only.

Yes, we’re well aware that Kentucky was a No. 8 seed and UConn was a 7. But c’mon. These are two power programs with storied histories, each with a championship under their belt within the past four seasons.

Following a string of NCAA tournaments with mid-major party crashers, the Final Four is going back to the big time with Florida and Wisconsin joining the Wildcats and Huskies in North Texas. We’ve got a rundown of what to look for:

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THE TEAMS

Florida. The top overall seed in the NCAA tournament has played like it by extending its winning streak to 30 games.

Kentucky. John Calipari’s latest group of one-and-dones needed a little time to get going. Once the roll started, no one has been able to stop it.

Wisconsin. The Badgers are feisty, fundamentally sound and one of those teams opponents hate to play.

UConn. The Huskies won the 2011 behind Kemba Walker. Shabazz Napier is the one-man gang this time.

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THE STARS

Shabazz Napier, UConn. A 6-foot-1 point guard who can do it all and had a great mentor in Kemba Walker.

Julius Randle, Kentucky. The projected No. 1 overall NBA draft pick is big, athletic and often unstoppable.

Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin. When he’s hitting his 3-pointers, this 7-footer is all but unguardable.

Scottie Wilbekin, Florida. From being asked to transfer by his own coach to becoming one of college basketball’s best closers.

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THE OTHERS

Patrick Young, Florida. The Gators’ big man is like a linebacker in basketball shorts.

Aaron Harrison, Kentucky. Hit the winning jumper against Michigan despite struggling with his shot. Has a twin brother who’s not bad, either.

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