Why Duke Will Win:
By Rob Scichili
Wisconsin has gone 36-3 this season. One of its three losses was an 80-70 setback to the Duke Blue Devils on December 3. The good thing for the Badgers is that Wisconsin is not the same team from that early-season meeting. The bad news – neither is Duke.
Both teams have improved as the season went on and both are playing lights-out in the NCAA Tournament. Duke’s defense has been stout in the tourney and it must be that way again on Monday night. The guards are key here; they must help by contesting shots and helping in the rebound game vs. a big Wisconsin team.
Frank Kaminsky has gotten all of the individual headlines lately, and rightfully so, but Duke’s Jahlil Okafor deserves as much accolades, and could be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft come June. He’s averaging 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Okafor has shot 64.8 percent for the tournament and he will once again be a key cog on the floor in Monday night’s game.
Look for Duke to jump out to an early lead tonight. Wisconsin has a tough challenge mentally, having to come back down to earth after beating Kentucky on Saturday evening.
But the main key to Duke’s success in the game will be dictating the tempo, which they do very well. Look for Duke to push and push and push, creating offense on the rush and taking Wisconsin out of its comfort zone. Expect an early lead and Duke never looks back.
Blue Devils 74, Badgers 68
Why Wisconsin Will Win:
By Tom Fireoved
When Duke beat Wisconsin by 10 points back on Dec. 3, one half of Wisconsin’s dynamic duo wasn’t healthy, and a player no longer on the Blue Devils squad dropped in 14 points off the bench for Coach K. Now Sam Dekker is 100% and on fire for the Badgers, and Rasheed Sulaimon is somewhere in street clothes.
Dekker (20.6 ppg) and Frank Kaminsky (22.2 ppg) are the top two scorers in the Tournament, and the reason why the Badgers will cut the nets down tonight for the first time since 1941. Look for Duke to put the pressure on Kaminsky and try to slow his offensive output, leaving Dekker to put up more big numbers and continue his lights out shooting (61.3% in the Tournament).
Wisconsin’s head man Bo Ryan will have his Badgers ready to go with no ill effects from their emotional win over the Wildcats on Saturday, and he’ll use the December loss as a blueprint to a victory in Indianapolis tonight. His Badgers play a very disciplined game and won’t allow Duke to get them into foul trouble, something Duke has been able to do to other opponents. Duke’s best players are freshman, Wisconsin’s upperclassmen, and their experience and composure will come into play.
Aaron Rodgers gets bragging rights over Tony Romo once again, as Coach K will have to wait until next year to try and grab that 5th Championship.
Badgers 75, Duke 71