The national championship of college basketball is here. After an exciting March of dramatic finishes that separated the pretenders from the contenders, the cream of the crop surfaced at The Final Four in Indianapolis, IN this past weekend. Three of the four number one seeds reached the Final Four with Duke, Kentucky, and Wisconsin all winning their regions to advance to college basketball’s biggest stage. Meanwhile, Michigan State was no slouch as a seventh seed. The Spartans reached The Final Four for a nation-leading seventh time since 1999, all under one of the elite coaches in the country in Tom Izzo.
With the Blue Devils defeating Michigan State 81-61 and the Badgers upsetting undefeated Kentucky 71-64 in the national semifinals on Saturday, Duke and Wisconsin advanced to tonight’s championship game. This is virtually an even game. Both teams have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll the whole season and have a combined record of 70-7 entering tonight’s title game. The Badgers are 36-3 and won the regular season Big Ten Championship as well as the conference tournament title. The Blue Devils finished second to Virginia in the ACC regular season standings at 15-3 and reached the ACC Tournament Semifinals
before losing to Notre Dame who went on to win the tournament title.
Wisconsin’s victory on Saturday avenged their loss to the Wildcats a year ago in the national semifinals, a 74-73 thriller that was decided on a 3-point basket by then-freshman guard Aaron Harrison. With the Badgers returning to The Final Four this year, Wisconsin has become a national program. Badgers’ head coach Bo Ryan has emerged as a great coach and has brought national prominence to the Wisconsin program in this his 14th year at the helm of the Badgers. This followed his highly successful career in the Division III ranks as head coach at The University of Wisconsin-Platteville where he won four national championships in the 1990’s.
Ryan will be matched up against Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski who is no stranger to the national championship game. This is the ninth national championship game that Krzyzewski has lead the Blue Devils to. He is 4-4 in the title game. The two schools met earlier this season back on Dec. 3 in Wisconsin where Duke prevailed 80-70 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Blue Devil freshman center Jahlil Okafor had 13 points and six rebounds while senior center Frank Kaminsky scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Badgers. Read the rest of this entry →