Despite the Big Ten running away with the Big Ten/ACC challenge, capturing the magic number which was 8 wins, #2 Wisconsin vs #4 Duke was the most anticipated matchup between the two conferences. The last two years both conferences have tied and the last time these two teams matched up the Badgers stormed the court as they upset Duke who was ranked #6 73-69.
The Blue Devils faced tremendous pressure considering they had to face a well coached Bo Ryan Badgers team in a hostile environment. The pressure also was high considering 3 of Dukes starting five were true freshman, a first for Duke since 1982-83 season that included college basketball analyst Jay Bilas. However, after watching the game tonight determining whether or not they are freshman is in question. Freshman's PG Tyus Jones, SF Justice Winslow, and #1 ranked player in the country C Jahlil Okafor played with great poise keeping the foot on the gas all night. Okafor broke the game in as he bodied up against Pre-season All-American, center Frank Kaminsky, but Okafor faced foul trouble early in the first half. Okafor in the second half had some pivotal points down the stretch, finishing with 13 points shooting 6-8. Winslow had a low scoring game with just 5 points but he hit a tough three that stopped the Badgers from turning the corner. Game ball without question goes to Tyus Jones who played like a super freshman scoring a team high 22 points missing just four shots against a tough senior point guard Traevon Jackson.
Wisconsin coming into this game undefeated, and under coach Bo Ryan, have an impressive 34-12 record against Top 25 teams. Looking at the Badgers this season I have to say this is their best team I have seen in years. Wisconsin's senior star, Frank Kaminsky, came in averaging 16 points and 8 boards which he spreads the floor with his ability to shoot behind the arc. Kaminsky started the game off challenging Okafors ability to defend on the perimeter, knocking down back-to-back treys. Frank was sidelined after taking a unintended blow to the groin but returned in the second half. Badgers point guard, Traevon Jackson, got off to a slow start in the first half but turned up in the second half shooting deadly from deep as he tried to will his team to turn the corner scoring a game high 25 points knocking down a bevy of treys.
The Blue Devils dribble drive penetration was a huge advantage implemented from guards Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook. The backcourt combined for 35 points shooting well over 60%. The bench play of guard Rasheed Sulaimon was great help as he scored 14 points going 5-8. The Blue Devils were lights out all night shooting 65% answering all over the floor whether it be from the trey, tough mid-ranges, or inside work. Even though the Blue Devils were the smaller team their ability to defend the bigger Badgers team was impressive as they held them to 40% from the field to win 80-70.
Wisconsin despite losing I think will still be a Final Four team after watching them play against a Top 5 Duke team. Kaminsky and Jackson answered all night combining for 42 of their 70 points shooting 50%. The Badgers shooting threat from point to center wasn't effective as usual shooting a season low 40%. Sophomore Nigel Hayes hurt the Badgers with his season low 4 points battling foul trouble the whole night.
The Badgers fall to 7-1 as the Blue Devils move to 8-0 and Coach K receives win #991. Congrats to the Blue Devils and their tough road win, I think with Okafors paint presence and great shooting ability Duke is a championship contender. I wouldn't be surprised if these two teams meet again come March.