Anyone else remember Duke?

I’m finally back to blogging after a post-football season hiatus. Baseball returns in full swing today. However, I want to focus on tonight’s national championship game. The NCAA tournament has once again delivered a fantastic month of excitement for hardcore and casual fans everywhere. For me, the feel-good story of the tournament was the miraculous upset of Baylor by Georgia State. Coach Ron Hunter tore his Achilles tendon while celebrating with his team after securing a bid to the big dance, then became an instant sensation after falling out of his chair when his son hit the game-winning shot to upset Baylor and send the Panthers to the round of 32.

As far as tonight’s game, the matchup sells itself. Wisconsin is a blue-collar team that has suddenly become quite flashy after upsetting an undefeated Kentucky squad Saturday. They don’t turn the ball over, foul much, or beat themselves in any way. Bo Ryan has done a great job of getting this team to play his way. Although they have the national player of the year in Frank Kaminsky, I still view this team as the kind of team where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Guys like Sam Dekker and Bronson Koenig have really made a name for themselves during this tournament. All of this was on display in the elite eight against Arizona. The Badgers needed a ridiculous 10-12 2nd half three-point shooting effort to overcome a halftime deficit against Arizona.

As good as Wisconsin is, I was really struck by something that happened Saturday night. After Wisconsin knocked mighty Kentucky from the ranks of the unbeaten, I watched the postgame on various channels for about an hour. Not one word was spoken about Wisconsin’s opponent in the title game, Duke. I realize Wisconsin knocking off Kentucky was a huge story. However, only one of Duke’s games in this tournament has been decided by single digits. I feel like they are being completely slighted by everyone but me leading into this game. Duke is slightly better coached and has more natural talent than Wisconsin. I look for Jahlil Okafor to control the glass, and Justice Winslow to match Wisconsin’s toughness all night. Wisconsin will be nothing more than the answer to a trivia question after tonight. Coach K will find a way, Duke will be champions.

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