Apr 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Frank Kaminsky (44) shoots the ball against Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) during the second half of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Division I Championship semi-final game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Coming off impressive victories in the Final Four, the Duke Blue Devils and Wisconsin Badgers will square off tonight for the title in Indianapolis.
Duke handled Michigan State rather easily Saturday in a 20-point win, 81-61. Wisconsin was involved in heavyweight fight with then-undefeated Kentucky and used a 13-4 run over the final four-plus minutes to pull out the win, 71-64.
The National Championship features the top two players in the country in Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky. The two teams played earlier this season in December with Duke coming out on top, 80-70.
Tipoff is set for 8:18 p.m.
James Johnson – Printz Reporter
What a difference a year makes. The 2015 Final Four matchup between Kentucky and Wisconsin was the exact same in 2014, the only difference being the winner of the game; Kentucky won 74-73 a year ago. Since the season opened up, the Badgers have had Kentucky embedded in their minds.
This year, Frank Kaminsky and the Badgers got the revenge they sought out for with a 71-64 point victory. I can see Wisconsin coming out for the National Championship a bit flat after the emotional victory over Kentucky, but I think the Badgers will find a way to channel the emotion and come out on top.
Julius Kizzee – Printz Reporter
Duke put the basketball world on notice with their 20-point rout over Michigan State. Duke forced 14 turnovers in the game, showing that they can be a defensive team, which they struggled being in the regular season. The game was decided way before the final buzzer, as Michigan State never came within single digits in the second half.
Frank Kaminsky was guarded by Willie Cauley-Stein for the majority of the Kentucky matchup, but Kaminsky still finished the with 20 points. Kaminsky showed his range and sneaky athleticism against one of the most athletic big men in the nation. Kentucky’s size and athleticism did little to faze Wisconsin down the stretch as Wisconsin became more physical as the game went on.
The X-factor is Sam Dekker, who has seemed to step up his game in every pivotal moment for the Badgers. The Badgers will need Dekker to come through in crucial moments, but his clutch ability will not be enough.
Wilton Jackson – Printz Reporter
Wisconsin made history defeating Kentucky while Duke shut down Michigan State, setting up an exciting championship game.
Again, tonight, history will be made. Frank Kaminsky and the Wisconsin Badgers have a solid team, but they will have their hands full stopping Duke’s talented freshmen Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones, to go along with senior guard Quinn Cook.
Duke has shown poise and commitment on offense and defense, something that will help them earn another victory and give Mike Krzyzewski his fifth National Championship in the place where he won his first title in 1991.
Ashley Hickman – Printz Reporter
Although the Duke Blue Devils steam-rolled Michigan State Saturday night, Wisconsin faced and defeated a better team in Kentucky; therefore, they will be more prepared for the championship game.
Wisconsin’s 71-64 win over the undefeated Wildcats was remarkable. The Badgers All-America selection, Frank Kaminsky, and his solid sidekick, Sam Dekker, will be key in beating the Blue Devils for the title. The two must find a way to score around Duke’s impressive newfound success on defense.
Duke’s most recent title was in 2012 and has won three other times. Wisconsin has less experience in this championship game with their only title coming in 1941, but I believe the time has come for the Wisconsin Badgers and they will win the 2015 title.
Jacob Kemp – Printz Reporter
Wisconsin put to rest their demons Saturday night in Indianapolis when they beat Kentucky and celebrated like they won the National Championship. The pure ecstasy of defeating the same team that beat them in last year’s Final Four will come back to bite the Badgers.
Wisconsin played in a 40-minute war against the nation’s only undefeated team, while Duke put away Michigan State without even breaking a sweat. Despite superior depth and talent in the frontcourt, Wisconsin will be emotionally and physically spent when they play Duke.
If Duke can jump out early and hold on to their lead before Wisconsin’s depth and maturity can come into play, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski will win his fifth national championship.
Joshua Campbell – Sports Editor
Jahlil Okafor and Frank Kaminsky are both nearly impossible to guard when the ball is in their hands. Both will have spurts, showing why they are the top two players in the country, but will essentially cancel one another out.
This game will come down to the supporting casts of the Blue Devils and the Badgers. While Sam Dekker has been playing lights out for the Badgers, Justise Winslow has been even more impactful. Dekker has come up with huge buckets when Wisconsin desperately needed them, but Winslow has done the same and has impacted games in a ton of ways.
Winslow is like a swiss-army knife; he can create havoc on defense with steals and chase-down blocks, go coast-to-coast after a rebound and distribute like a point guard. Couple his ability with the playmaking of Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook’s sharpshooting and Duke simply has too many weapons for the Badgers to handle.