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NCAA Tournament Championship Preview

Only because of one of the greatest seasons in history by an incredibly talented Kentucky Wildcats team could be be considered a shock that Wisconsin made it to the championship game. Kentucky was unbeaten before playing Wisconsin, showing their superior skill and athleticism every single night as they racked up 38-straight victories. But Wisconsin ended their season with a great performance in the Final Four. They shot the ball well, they dominated on the boards, they executed throughout the night and made the huge plays when they needed to.

They were not supposed to be in the finals, even despite their 36-3 record and Big Ten titles, both regular season and tournament crowns. But they proved to be the best team on Saturday. Just like how Duke proved to be the best team on the other side of the bracket despite failing to win either ACC title.

Sam Dekker might just be the Most Outstanding player so far of this tournament.

Sam Dekker might just be the Most Outstanding player so far of this tournament.

Both teams have great coaches and both teams have great players and that is what it takes to get to the championship game.

All season long, Naismith Player of the Years winner Frank Kaminsky has proven to be the best college basketball player as he’s averaged 18.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 55.1-percent from the floor. But the best player in this tournament has been his teammate, Sam Dekker. In this tournament, Dekker has averaged 20.6 points and five rebounds per game and has shot a remarkable 50-percent from 3-point range.

It is more than just hitting shots, though. Dekker has played great defense, drawn fouls at key moments, gone head first to get loose balls; he’s been a major spark and reason why the Badgers are where they are.

And with Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig and Josh Gasser all hitting their shots from outside, or at the very least spreading out the opposing defense, Wisconsin has figured out a winning formula.

Plus, they are a very experienced group that was in the Final Four last season. Kaminski, Gasser and Traevon Jackson are hungry seniors on their last run. Dekker is a junior and Hayes and Koenig are very experienced sophomores who have played a ton of huge games.

And their team defense is incredible. But as good of a defense they have, Duke has proven they can score against anybody.

Everything revolves around stud freshman center Jahlil Okafor. He controls the paint every single time he plays and has the ability to slow Kaminsky down near the rim. This season, Okafor has averaged 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He is a game-changer inside. But hile he didn’t have particularly great performances against Utah or Gonzaga, he was incredible in the team’s victory over Michigan State. That is the type of performance the Blue Devils will need from Okafor if they have any shot at winning a title.

Despite not hitting many three's the last three games, Quinn Cook is still a dangerous threat and dominant scorer.

Despite not hitting many three’s the last three games, Quinn Cook is still a dangerous threat and dominant scorer.

Justise Winslow has been a major different maker in the tournament, playing well above his level in the regular season. In the tournament he has averaged 13.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game while making nearly 70-percent of his shot attempts. That’s been a big boost for Duke. Point guard Tyus Jones is averaging nearly five more points per game in the tournament than he was during the season; another big boost for Duke.

But there is a lot of youth on Duke. Their veteran leadership comes almost exclusively from senior guard Quinn Cook. He’s rock solid and a major threat from 3-point range. Cook scored 17 points against Michigan State but while he’s only gone 2-for-9 from beyond the arc since the opening weekend of the tournament, he can still get hot at any time and depends a defenses’ full attention when he has the ball in his hand.

This one, is going to be a chess match between two great coaches. Duke has the better offense, Wisconsin has the better defense. Both teams rebound well, both teams have strong 3-point shooting ability and both get out on the perimeter and alter shots.

It’s just hard to argue against a team led by a group of hungry upper classmen, the best player in the country and probably the best player in this tournament coming off the biggest win of the season. It doesn’t matter what happened earlier in the year at all.

Pick: Wisconsin Badgers.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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