After two Final Four games that were opposites of each other, we have ourselves a championship that is sure to not disappoint between the Duke Blue Devils and the Wisconsin Badgers. When these teams met each other early in the season in Madison, Duke came out with the 10 point win, but I think both sides will say that their teams have greatly evolved since then.
The first thing I see when I look at this game is the matchup between Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor. This is a good matchup between two bigs that can take over a game. Both of these guys had great games for their teams in the National Semifinals, but they will have to step it up even more if they want to be lifting that trophy on Monday night.
Duke ran all over Michigan State on Saturday night. They fell behind at the start, but by the end there was no doubt that they deserved a spot in the championship game. They will be ready to go against a good Wisconsin team that could give them some issues.
The biggest question that comes to mind when talking about this game is whether there will be a hangover from Wisconsin from knocking off undefeated Kentucky. That was a very emotional game the other night from the Badgers and they have to realize that they are playing in an even bigger game with a championship on the line vs. Duke.
The two coaches that are featured in this game are two of the best all time. Coach K is going for his fifth championship while Bo Ryan may be the best current coach without a championship on his resume. These guys will have their teams ready for battle and what a battle it’ll be.
There are some great matchups in addition to the feature matchup of Okafor and Kaminsky. Justise Winslow vs. Sam Dekker is the one that could decide the game. Okafor and Kaminsky will basically cancel each other out, but if either Winslow or Dekker out plays the other, their team will have the upper hand. The point guards in this game will be fun to watch. Bronson Koenig vs. Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook vs. Trae Jackson will be fun ones to watch as well. Nigel Hayes is the player for Wisconsin that will be the x-factor. He will go up against Amille Jefferson and if Hayes can get it going from the outside, it opens up the offense for the Badgers.
This will be a game that has a good pace to it early on then whichever team has the lead towards the end will slow it down and use the full 35-second shot clock and limit the possessions down the stretch. Both of these teams matchup very well with each other and it should be a championship for the ages. Wisconsin and Duke will need their big guys to establish the post so it opens up their outside shot and the rest of the offense.
This is going to be a great game from start to finish. The matchups across the board are almost too close to predict. The biggest factor could be who makes the least mistakes and can capitalize at the free throw line. I’m not going to say Duke doesn’t do both of those things well, but Wisconsin does both of those better and that is why I am picking Wisconsin to cut down the nets on Monday night in Indianapolis. Wisconsin 68, Duke 60.
Seattle sports fan and MLB writer for International Sports Hub