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Apr
04
2015

Previewing an epic 2015 Final 4.

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It really doesn’t get any better than this for a Final 4. You have Hall of Fame coaches, brand name programs, and some of best players in the country. Kentucky, Duke, and Wisconsin started the year in everyone’s top 5, and Michigan State was a pre-season top 25 team. With Kentucky going for unbeaten season, and the pedigree of the other 3 programs, this is the most anticipated Final 4 in recent memory.

Let’s preview the 2 games.

Duke vs Michigan State

Michigan State may have lost 11 games and is a #7 seed, but re-rank the top 25, and you probably have the Spartans as one of the top 8 teams in the country. Tom Izzo is a coaching legend at Michigan State, and this season is one of his best coaching jobs. Guard Travis Trice has been outstanding during the Spartans Final 4 run. They are playing the wrong team though in the Final 4.

Duke all year has been plagued by defensive lapses. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has gotten his Blue Devils to play it’s best defense of the year in this year’s NCAAs. 56,49,57,52 are the point totals of Duke’s 4 NCAA tournament opponents. Michigan State may have Trice, but the Blue Devils have the best backcourt in the country in Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook. Duke beat Utah and Gonzaga without Jahlil Okafor’s best basketball. That backcourt, plus Okafor who won’t play a 3rd shaky game in a row, and add in Justise Winslow who is a matchup nightmare, and I believe this Duke should be more heavily favored in this game than Kentucky over Wisconsin.

Michigan State is too good to get blown out, but on paper this is Duke’s game to lose. The only way I see Duke losing is if they get into heavy foul trouble, and struggle with their thin bench. I’m taking Duke 66-59 in this one.

Kentucky vs Wisconsin

Wisconsin is capable of beating Kentucky, let’s get that out of the way first, but they are going to need help from the Wildcats. When I previewed Notre Dame, I said their guards were capable of getting into lane and creating opportunities. The Irish guards exploited Kentucky’s lack of foot speed all night. I’m not sure the Badger guards can do that, but the Irish blueprint is still how to beat Kentucky… spread the floor, pull the Kentucky bigs out of the paint, and knock down jump shots.

The Badger’s Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker can match the Wildcats length, and they are a 1-2 punch that Kentucky hasn’t seen all year. Here’s the problem Willie Cauley-Stein is the country’s best defender, and may be able to take to take Kaminsky or Dekker out of the game. That means Wisconsin will need significant scoring from the rest of their team. They can’t expect Kaminsky and Dekker to both go for for 25+ against Kentucky like they did against Arizona. The Badger’s will need a 3rd option to score at least 15 points to beat Kentucky.

If Kentucky shoots well, Wisconsin will struggle. The Wildcats though aren’t an elite offensive team, but they are one defensively. As well at Notre Dame played in the Elite 8, the Wildcats made enough stops late to win. I just don’t trust Wisconsin to find that third scoring option to beat Kentucky, and their guards will struggle more than Notre Dame’s did.

Kentucky wins 70-65 to setup an iconic team (Kentucky) playing the most iconic coach in college basketball Mike Krzyzewski Monday night in the biggest College Basketball championship game in years, maybe ever.


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