Wisconsin has done what no college basketball team has been able to do this season: beat the Kentucky Wildcats. Now, the Badgers’ reward will be a spot in the 2015 NCAA Championship game and a date with Duke. And if Kentucky isn’t going to be involved in the title game, then one couldn’t have picked two more-worthy teams in Wisconsin (36-3) and Duke (34-4) to play for the Wooden NCAA National Championship trophy.
So what can we expect from this game from a betting perspective? Here’s the game time and GTBets.eu line, and as you can see, it’s VERY close:
Game Time: Monday, April 6 on CBS at 9:18pm EST
No. 1 Wisconsin -1 (-110) Over 140 (-110)
No. 1 Duke (-110) Under 140 (-110)
Wisconsin is favored by just one point on the NCAA Championship betting line. So you could say that bettors will really have their work cut out in picking the winner. That said, let’s try to eliminate some of the confusion by discussing key points to this matchup while coming up with a reasonable prediction.
This will actually be the second time that Duke and Wisconsin have met this season. In the first meeting, which happened on Dec. 3 in Madison, the Blue Devils came away with a 80-70 win. Guard Tyus Jones was the hero in this contest as he scored 22 points, while junior Rasheed Sulaimon added 14 points and Jahlil Okafor scored 13. The key stat in this game involved Duke shooting a blazing 65 percent from the field. Don’t expect the same unworldly shooting percentage against what’s an otherwise stout Wisconsin defense.
Leading Players for Both Teams
Duke: Okafor continues to live up to the hype, averaging 17.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG and 1.5 BPG in 30 minutes. After two mediocre games against Utah and Gonzaga, he came up huge against Michigan State, scoring 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Senior guard Quinn Cook is the second-leading scorer for this team, as he puts in 15.6 PPG. Cook also had a very strong effort against the Spartans after scoring 17 points. The key to this run has been Justise Winslow, who’s averaging 15 PPG and 9.4 RPG in the tournament – up from his season totals of 12.7 PPG and 6.4 RPG. And don’t be surprised if Jones (11.7 PPG) comes up big against Wisconsin again.
Wisconsin: As the AP Player of the Year, Frank Kaminsky (18.7 PPG, 8.1 RPG) continues to have a magical senior year. The 7-footer was instrumental in taking down Kentucky as he scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting and pulled down 11 boards. And if Duke wants to focus on Kaminsky, they’ll give Sam Dekker (13.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG) more opportunities to create havoc. Dekker also had a good game against the Wildcats since he scored 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Nigel Hayes is the other big part of this offense, as he averages 12.4 PPG and 6.3 RPG.
Which Team has the Edge?
Duke already has one big thing going in its favor after winning the first meeting by 10 points at Wisconsin. Plus, their defense has only gotten better while holding its five tournament opponents to just 55 PPG on 37.4% shooting. And this team’s trio of freshman stars – Jones, Okafor, Winslow – have not disappointed on college basketball’s biggest stage so far. So don’t expect them to wilt in the national title game.
When Wisconsin lost to Duke on Dec. 3, Dekker was not entirely healthy, which is huge considering that he’s averaging over 20 PPG on 63% shooting in the NCAA Tournament. Kaminsky has proven to be the best player in college basketball this year, period. Given these two stars’ versatility, it doesn’t seem like Duke can stop either one. And the Badgers play great defense without fouling and don’t turn the ball over much – both of which will be keys to defeating the Blue Devils.
Final Score Prediction: Wisconsin 75 – Duke 68