INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 04: Bronson Koenig #24 and Josh Gasser #21 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrate after a play in the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 4, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Badgers Basketball Preview: National Championship Game edition

The Matchup: Wisconsin (1) vs. Duke (1)
When: Saturday, April 4; 7:49pm CT
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium; Indianapolis, IN (71,932)
Radio: Badgers Sports Network
Last Meeting: Duke won, 80-70 (12/3/15) in 2014 Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Madison
All-Time Series: Duke leads, 2-1


Starting Lineups:


G Tyus Jones (11.5 ppg, 5.7 apg)
G Quinn Cook (15.6 ppg, 2.7 apg)
G/F Matt Jones (6.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
F Justise Winslow (12.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
C Jahlil Okafor (17.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg)


G Bronson Koenig - So. (8.7 ppg, 2.4 apg)
G Josh Gasser - Sr. (6.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
F Sam Dekker - Jr. (13.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
F Nigel Hayes - So. (12.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
C Frank Kaminsky - Sr. (18.7 ppg, 8.1 rpg)


Biggest Matchup: Sam Dekker vs. Justise Winslow

The last time these two teams met, Dekker was non-existent. He put up just five points in the 80-70 loss at the Kohl Center. Don’t expect that same Dekker to show up, as he became a very different player after that game.

In fact, Dekker has scored in double figures in all but five of the 31 games the Badgers have played since that Duke contest. He’s also averaging 20.6 points per game in the NCAA tournament.

Winslow did a great job of holding Dekker in check in their last matchup, the question is can Dekker’s new-found confidence and physicality make Winslow change the way he plays this game. It isn’t just the defense fro Winslow that will matter, as the freshman is just as good on the offensive end.

He’s averaging 17.3 points per game in Duke’s last four NCAA Tournament appearances, while shooting 54.8 percent from the field, including 58.3 percent from three-point range. Sound familiar? If Dekker and the Badgers are going to win, it may be Dekker’s ability to play better defense than in the first contest that will make the biggest difference.

during the West Regional Semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 26, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

during the West Regional Semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 26, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.


3 Numbers to Know:

- .900: If you’re looking for a sign about this matchup, look no further than the fact that the Wisconsin Badgers are batting .900 against fellow NCAA tournament opposition. UW is 18-2 against 2015 NCAA tournament teams. Of course one of those two losses is to Duke, but you have to like to overall odds here.

- 37: With a win over Duke it would mean a 37-3 record for the Badgers, a record that would tie the 2005 Illinois Fighting Illini for most wins by a Big Ten team in the history of the game.

- 6: Wisconsin had trailed in second half of six of its eight postseason games, and that’s been a good thing for the Badgers. All six of those games have ended with the Badgers coming out on top. So, don’t get down if the Badgers are down in the second half on Monday night.


Prediction: Wisconsin 68, Duke 62

A lot of attention will be paid to the matchup between Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, and rightfully so. However, I see the defensive side of this matchup being more important than the offensive side and that’s advantage Kaminsky. He won’t get in to foul trouble, but his ability to drive to the basket and the variety of moves he has will get Okafor and Duke’s front line in some serious foul trouble.

Wisconsin wins this game at the free throw line and because of the increased inside-out game with Bronson Koenig starting at point guard as well.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site