As expected, the men’s basketball matchup was between a pair of number one seeds. Maintaining typical requirements, both teams were led by highly revered coaches and were equipped with rosters chocked full of NBA talent. Both have large fan bases that come with even larger expectations and as this year’s hoops season progressed, both teams showed exceptional ability by standing out during conference play. Furthermore, the media outlets focused heavily on their star players. However, the one thing that wasn’t earlier expected was the actual teams that would end up in this year’s final game.
Wisconsin Badgers versus Duke Blue Devils.
Yep, that’s right. I did not incorrectly spell “Kentucky.” Despite Ashley Judd, Drake and the sports illuminati, those previously undefeated Cats were watching this season’s title bout at home in Lexington.
The Goliath-esque team was slain after 38 consecutive wins by Bucky from Madison. Well, specifically by Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker. Bo Ryan’s boys avenged last year’s final four loss to UK and met the prereq’s to play in the National Championship game.
Ok, so that’s one highly revered coach in Bo Ryan — check.
Looking for a super star? How about a player of the year? That would be the 7-foot tank, Frank Kaminksy — check.
What about other legit NBA talent? Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes — check and check.
Large Expectations? The last time Wisconsin won a hoops National Championship was 1941 — yikes. Yet after last year’s productive tournament, wining this year’s B1G title and extinguishing the Kentucky streak, only the big trophy would make Madison jump around.
Obviously they deserve a shot at the title, but, like Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock said; “It takes two.”
Meanwhile, in the far corner, wearing blue, from Durham, stands Coach Krzyzewski’s squad from Duke University.
A highly revered coach? … with over a thousand wins and a dozen final fours, COACH K.
Who is the superstar? Jahlil Okafor, soon to be top pick in the NBA draft.
What about other legit NBA talent? Well, the Blue Devils have 9 HS All-Americans on the roster, notably Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones.
Expectations? Duke is playing for a fifth title. So, yeah, they expect it.
I’ll paraphrase Big Lebowski — “Worthy fuckin’ adversary, dude.”
Accordingly, the teams started the 2015 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship equally trading jabs. The game itself was a great back and forth battle, with over a dozen lead changes in the first half alone. Keeping the enemy close, the game was tied 31-31 at half.
As the game went on, both teams played intense defense, allowing for some questionable foul calls. Free throws and timely turnovers minimized excessive scoring runs, but, eventually Wisconsin drew first blood as they took a nine point lead with 13 minutes left in the game.
That’s when the unexpected stuff really started to happen.
Grayson Allen, the least heralded of those Duke All-Americans, erupted for a season saving six points and a timely steal.
To help the Duke comeback, Tyus Jones scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half, earning the Most Outstanding Player award in this year’s Final Four.
Despite the Blue Devil resurgence, the Badgers still wouldn’t fold. Led by Frank Kaminsky, the half tank and half ballerina used beautiful post moves to score 21 points and gather 11 boards.
Duke would again counter, finally with Jahlil Okafor.
After that critical body blow, Duke led by 5 with one minute left. Fittingly, Wisconsin swung back with all of its remaining energy as Kaminsky hit a three pointer and Hayes had a dunk. The Blue Devils lead was trimmed to 66-63, but, the fight was over after two more Duke free throws.
Duke knocks out Wisconsin to win it all, 68-63.
Coach K wins his fifth national championship.
PS. Kudos to Mikie Costorf on his bracket, it was better than 99.1% of all entries.