NCAA Title Game Preview

Duke and Wisconsin played a highly-anticipated game on December 3.  Duke won 80-70, shooting 65 percent and limiting Wisconsin to just 40 percent from the floor.  But that can now be thrown out the window.  Rasheed Sulaimon scored 14 points in that game; he’s not playing Monday night due to his dismissal from the team on allegations of sexual assault.  Also, a banged-up Sam Dekker struggled for just five points in the first game; that probably won’t happen again either. Here, we’ll examine how both teams win and make a prediction on the game.

How Wisconsin Wins

Sam Dekker plays amazing and exploits a potential mismatch against Duke’ Matt Jones.  Frank Kaminsky pulls Duke’s dominant dig man Jahlil Okafor out of the paint and forces Duke’s defense to extend outside.  Wisconsin extends its own defense to stop Duke’s three-point shooting and bites the bullet allowing Okafor to have what he wants.  Nigel Hayes, the Badgers’ X-factor, also stretches out the Duke defense and is active on the offensive glass, like he was against Kentucky.  Traevon Jackson, who scored 25 points against Duke in December, and Zak Showalter, give Wisconsin a spark off the bench, and Duje Dukan gives Wisconsin another 3-point shooting threat.

How Duke Wins

Jahlil Okafor wreaks havoc on Wisconsin’s front line in the paint, drawing both Hayes and Kaminsky into foul trouble and exposing Bucky’s lack of depth.  Justise Winslow wins the battle of wing forwards with Dekker, and Duke’s guards stretch out Wisconsin with their three-point shooting.  Matt Jones hits a couple of threes and plays solid perimeter defense, possibly being matched up with Dekker.  Amile Jefferson and Grayson Allen give Duke energy and rebounding off the bench, and Marhsall Plumlee helps give Okafor rest or helps spell Okafor if he is in fould trouble.

This is a very evenly matched game, but the way Sam Dekker is playing right now in addition to the match-up nightmare Kaminsky presents will be the difference.

Prediction: Wisconsin 74, Duke 67