The Wisconsin Badgers and Duke Blue Devils are both different teams from the two that squared off on Dec. 3 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Both teams have improved considerably since Duke knocked off Wisconsin 80-70 at the Kohl Center.
For the Badgers, Sam Dekker was still recovering from a left ankle sprain that he suffered Oct. 24th and missed significant practice time. He had five points and four rebounds in 24 minutes of playing time against Duke.
Nigel Hayes struggled with foul trouble and finished with a season low four points in 23 minutes.
Both Dekker and Hayes have picked up their game considerably from late in the Big Ten season right through the NCAA Tournament.
Dekker is averaging 20.6 points a game and shooting 61% from the field during the NCAA Tournament and he’s started to play an active role in the clutch, something that he hasn’t done much of throughout the season.
Hayes has averaged 12.4 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Badgers in the post-season.
Dekker will likely be defended by Duke’s Justise Winslow. Winslow is a 6’6 freshman who scored five points and pulled down five rebounds in the Dec. 3rd win against the Badgers. But in the NCAA Tournament, he’s averaged 15 points and 9.4 rebounds. It should be a great matchup.
Player of the year Frank Kaminsky will draw Jahlil Okafor for another one of the game’s top matchups. Kaminsky had 20 points in Wisconsin’s semifinal win over Kentucky, while Okafor had 18 in Duke’s 20-point win over Michigan State. Okafor is shooting 66% from the field for the season.
Duke is a good shooting team. The Badgers defensively won’t be able to sag off and clog the lane like they did against Kentucky.
For Duke, the Blue Devils are making their 9th NCAA Championship game appearance. They have titles in 1991, 1992, 2001 and 2010.
The Badgers last won an NCAA title in 1941. They’ll be looking to end that drought tonight. Bo Ryan has four NCAA Division-3 titles at UW-Platteville. He’ll be looking for his first Division 1 title with the Badgers.
TV – CBS 8:18 p.m. – Lucas Oil Stadium
Badgers (36-3) vs. Duke (34-4)
Coaches – Wisconsin – Bo Ryan 357-124 in his 14th season at Wisconsin
Duke – Mike Krzyzewski 944-251 in his 35th season at Duke