Breakdown: No.1 Wisconsin vs. No.1 Duke

Meeting for the first time in the NCAA tournament, Wisconsin - champions of the Midwest Regional - and Duke - champions of the South Regional - match up for the second time this season with the greatest prize in college basketball on the line. BadgerNation breaks down the matchup between the two No.1 seeds and the keys for UW tonight.

No.1 Wisconsin (36-3, 16-2 Big Ten) vs. No.1 Duke (34-4, 15-3 ACC)

Date/Time - Monday, April 6, 8:18 p.m. Central

Arena – Lucas Oil Stadium (71,932) – Indianapolis

Television - CBS (Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas)

National Radio - Westwood One (Kevin Kugler, Clark Kellogg and Jim Gray)

Series – Duke leads 2-1 (First meeting on neutral court)

Last Meeting – Duke won, 80-70, on December 3, 2014 in Madison

Wisconsin Probable Starters

10 Nigel Hayes (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 12.4 ppg)

15 Sam Dekker (6-9 Junior Forward, 13.9 ppg)

21 Josh Gasser (6-4 Senior Guard, 6.8 ppg)

24 Bronson Koenig (6-4 Sophomore Guard, 8.7 ppg)

44 Frank Kaminsky (7-0 Senior Forward, 18.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Zak Showalter (6-2 Sophomore Guard, 2.1 ppg)

12 Traevon Jackson (6-3 Senior Guard, 8.5 ppg)

13 Duje Dukan (6-10 Senior Forward, 4.7 ppg)

30 Vitto Brown (6-8 Sophomore Forward, 1.8 ppg)

Duke Probable Starters

2 Quinn Cook (6-2 Senior Guard 15.6 ppg)

5 Tyus Jones (6-1 Freshman Guard, 8.9 ppg)

12 Justise Winslow (6-6 Freshman Forward, 13.0 ppg)

13 Matt Jones (6-5 Sophomore Guard, 7.6 ppg)

15 Jahlil Okafor (6-11 Freshman Center, 17.7 ppg)

Off the Bench

3 Grayson Allen (6-4 Freshman Guard, 6.3 ppg)

14 Rasheed Sulaimon (6-5 Junior Guard, 6.4 ppg)

21 Amile Jefferson (6-9 Junior Forward, 9.3 ppg)

40 Marshall Plumlee (7-0 Junior Center, 3.6 ppg)

Last Meeting

MADISON - The shots just kept falling; drives to the lane, pull-up jumpers, post moves and 3-pointers. The University of Wisconsin had to think Duke would cool off eventually, but the offense averaging over 90 points per game with the ability to create confounded a veteran group of defenders.

Too much athleticism and too many makes ended Wisconsin’s undefeated season, and its number-two ranking for the time being, after fourth-ranked Duke registered an 80-70 victory in front of a deafening 17,279 in the Kohl Center, most of whom walked away muted.

The Big Ten had already won/retained the Commissioner’s Cup for the sixth consecutive season with an 8-6 decision, but that was of little consolation for the home team after letting the visiting Blue Devils (8-0) shoot 65.2 percent from the floor and 58.3 percent from 3-point range.

“They hit some tough shots, but they have good enough players that can do that at times,” said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, whose team had been limiting opponents to 28.8 percent from the perimeter and 37.1 percent overall. “To have as many do it on the same night, that’s just not fair. I don’t care what anybody says. They were lights out.”

The Frank Kaminsky vs. Jahlil Okafor billing was good but didn’t live up the hype. Okafor battled foul trouble and finished with 13 points while Kaminsky finished with 17, hot early before eventually grinding along after the Blue Devils starting switching their defense on him.

With the marquee empty, freshman Tyus Jones felt it was a good time to make his statement that the Blue Devils have more than one super freshman. Jones scored 14 of his 22 in the second half and went 4-for-6 on his second-half shots, helping the Blue Devils shoot 72.2 percent after the break.

Duke’s shooting percentage was the highest for a UW opponent since Ohio State shot 68.1 percent in Columbus on March 6, 2011.

“Our offensive efficiency was like incredible,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. “Our kids were ready, they never backed down and they showed great composure. I’m really proud of my team because I think we beat one of the two or three best teams in the country.”

Senior Traevon Jackson did his best to keep up for Wisconsin (7-1), finishing with a career-high 25 points and hitting some 3-pointers late for the Badgers to have a pulse. Only problem was that Kaminsky and Jackson didn’t get much assistance from the peanut gallery.

Junior Sam Dekker scored five points on 2-for-5 shooting, attempting no shots in the final 16 minutes. After missing practice time this week and struggling, Ryan said others earned more playing time.

Nigel Hayes – thrown out of rhythm by foul trouble – finished with a season-low four points on 1-for-5 shooting. Wisconsin’s bench only chipped in with 12 points, too, and the Badgers could only turn 10 offensive rebounds into 12 points.

Duke only had three offensive rebounds mainly because the Blue Devils only missed 16 shots, including just six in the second half.

That’s not to say Wisconsin didn’t have ample opportunities to try and build a lead at points in the second half. Trailing 42-40 in the early minutes of the first half, the Badgers missed four straight layups at one point before Hayes registered his only bucket of the game – an old-fashioned 3-point play to put UW up 43-42.

That’s when Duke started countering. A 3-point shot by Rasheed Sulaimon (14 points) keyed a 6-0 run to push the lead to 48-43. After Wisconsin chipped the lead back down to two, Justise Winslow’s 3-pointer started a 7-0 run for the Blue Devils, getting them their largest lead to that point at 58-49. Over the next nine minutes couldn’t chip the lead any closer than three, as Jackson and Kaminsky combined for 18 of UW’s final 21 points from that point on.

-Benjamin Worgull,

Last Time Out

INDIANAPOLIS - Despite being held without a field goal for 9 minutes, 9 seconds in the second half, the Badgers’ battle-tested group earned a final 40 minutes with a gritty, gutsy defensive effort in a 71-64 victory over previously unbeaten Kentucky in front of 72,238 at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night.

Four players reached double figures for the Badgers (36-3), who will play for their first national title since 1941 after the Badgers continuously punched Kentucky’s heralded front court.

Even through it started a lineup that rivaled the size of NBA teams, Wisconsin outrebounded Kentucky 34-22, including 12-6 on the offensive glass that led to a plus-7 edge in second-chance points.

“Out of everybody in the country, I thought we matched up probably the best against them,” said Bronson Koenig (12 points). “Style of play, size, our offense, we don’t really care who scores or who gets the ball.”

A year ago the Wildcats scored 23 second-chance points off 11 offensively rebounds, controlled the paint and tempo in their 74-73 win in Arlington, Texas. This year, not so much.

After UW’s frontcourt – Sam Dekker, Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes – combined for 25 points (8 of 13) in last season’s ending loss, Kaminsky led all scorers with 20 points and 11 rebounds, Dekker had 16 points on 6 of 9 and Hayes had 12 points and five rebounds (four offensive).

A little bit of luck was certainly on their side, especially when Hayes’ put back to tie the game at 60 came after the shot clock showed “0” with the ball still in his hands (it couldn’t be reviewed over two minutes). But godsend had nothing to do with Wisconsin’s defense down the stretch.

The Badgers forced three shot clock violations and held a roster comprised on nine McDonald’s All-Americans to only six points in the final 7:50.

“We still pride ourselves on the defensive end,” said senior Josh Gasser. “We are better offensively. We have one of the better offenses in the country, but when it comes down to it, we still consider ourselves a tough, defensive-minded team. That’s what we’re going to hang our hat on.”

No play epitomized that more than Dekker’s 17 second stretch in crunch time. After hitting a 3-pointer with 1:42 remaining to give UW the lead for good, Dekker got in the right defensive positioning and drew an offensive foul on Trey Lyles, just the third charge Dekker has drawn this season. It marked the fifth straight possession UW held Kentucky scoreless.

Andrew Harrison missed three jumpers, Aaron Harrison and Trey Lyles couldn’t convert and Lyles ran over Dekker, giving UW more and more life with each passing possession.

“At the heart of this program, that’s what it is: it’s a lot of toughness and it’s a lot of grit,” said associate head coach Greg Gard. “Obviously we’re extremely talented, we know that. We’ve got great players, but when it comes to those types of situations, you’ve got to reach back a little bit and dig in.”

- Benjamin Worgull,

Series Notes

With another No. 1 seed on the horizon (Duke), the Badgers improved to 3-5 all-time in the NCAA tournament against No. 1 seeds. UW is currently riding a two-game winning streak over top-seeded teams, having defeated West Region No. 1 seed Arizona on the way to the 2014 Final Four and No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday night.

The two schools have met 3 times in the last 8 seasons, having faced off in the 2007, 2009 and 2015 Big Ten/ACC Challenges.

The Badgers’ only victory over Duke came in a 73-69 win at the Kohl Center in 2009.

Mike Krzyzewski and Bo Ryan are 2 of 6 active coaches with at least 700 wins. The duo ranks 6th and 7th, respectively, in career win percentage among all-time coaches with 700 wins.

Wisconsin is 39-39 against teams currently in the ACC, including 4-4 in the NCAA tournament.

Duke is 14-4 against the Big Ten in the NCAA tournament.

Wisconsin Notes

With a record of 36-3, Wisconsin has already shattered the school’s single-season wins record and now sits one win shy of the Big Ten mark of 37 set by Illinois in 2004-05. UW is now one of just 10 teams with at least 36 wins in Division I history.

Josh Gasser has played in 16 NCAA tournament games in his career. UW’s record in those games is 13-3 (.813).

Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker are the two top scorers in this year’s NCAA tournament. Kaminsky has scored 111 points (22.2 per game) and Dekker has poured in 103 (20.6 per game). The duo has combined to make 75-of-131 (.573) field goals, 21-of-41 (.512) 3-pointers and 43-of-53 (.811) free throws.

Sophomore Nigel Hayes has scored in double figures in 7 of the Badgers’ 8 postseason games, averaging 12.4 points per game. He is pulling down 6.3 rebounds per game.

Bo Ryan is 4-0 in NCAA title games, having won all four of his championship game appearances with UW-Platteville at Division III.

Duke Notes

The Blue Devils were tabbed the No. 1 seed in the South Region. Duke has received a No. 1 seed 13 times, second-most in NCAA Tournament history. The Blue Devils are 50-9 (.847) as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Duke is playing its 292nd consecutive game as a ranked team in the AP Poll. The Blue Devils are 242-49 (.832) in that span.

Duke is 10-2 (.833) on the year against ranked opponents, including a 5-1 (.833) mark against teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll.

Duke has limited its five NCAA Tournament opponents to 55.0 points per game on 37.4 percent (108-of-289) shooting from the field.

The Blue Devils are shooting 50.4 percent (131-of-260) from the field, including 39.7 percent (29-of-73) from three-point range in NCAA tournament play.


This is the game … as in the last game of the college basketball season. And for the first time in 74 years, the University of Wisconsin is a major player in it.

“I don’t think you should be thinking about anything else,” said Dekker.

And that’s a major reason why looking back at the Wisconsin-Duke matchup from four months ago is dangerous. It does bare repeating that Cook, Okafor and Winslow combined to score 54 points on 18-of-30 shooting in the win. The trio hasn’t tapered off either, as they were part of a Duke unit that scored 42 paint points, the most allowed by the Spartans in a game this season.

Michigan State’s two worst paint performances this season were against Duke (they had 38 against the Spartans in the regular season). For comparison purposes, UW scored 34 points in Madison and only 20 in Chicago against the Spartans.

Okafor (18 points) played much better on the offensive end than the past two tournament games, in which he totaled 15 points on 7-of-16 shooting against Utah and Gonzaga. Winslow excelled on the defensive end, as well, holding his man to 3-of-11 shooting from the field, and will be in charge of trying to slow down Dekker, who is on a tournament tear. They will be a test, along with the rest of a Duke offense that’s third nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Mike Krzyzewski said Duke was realistic after it won in Madison because he knew that Wisconsin wasn't at its best. The Badgers are certainly at their best now with answering the call on a very challenging run to this moment. UW’s historically good offense continues to click against some of the nation’s best defenses. Duke’s defense is good, but it’s not to the level of the defenses of Arizona and Kentucky – two teams that UW had little trouble lighting up.

The key tonight is the same as Saturday against Kentucky: win the paint, dominate the boards and shut down the frontcourt. In this case, it’s slowing down the second best player in the country in Okafor. UW can defend him; they have to attack him and get him into foul trouble, much like they did in Madison.

Again, I don’t put much stock in past history, but I do put a lot of stock in what I’ve seen recently. What I saw Saturday was a tremendous performance by UW that included timely shots, timely defense and a sense of calm and composure so surprising considering the circumstances of the situation. People worry about UW getting too amped after getting past undefeated Kentucky. Those people don’t know the Badgers.

Duke will have its time again with the way Mike Krzyzewski recruits and coaches, but this is Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan’s best team and one of his best coaching job. I think he’ll get rewarded with a title-worthy effort tonight, allowing him to cut down the nets following an 8-point victory.

Worgull's Record: 37-2

Points off Prediction: 265 (6.8 per game)


Badger Nation Top Stories