Timeline staffers Dave Long and Taylor Schuster offer their insight and recaps of the coveted Final Four of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Graphic by: Dr. C. Allin Means
The Final Four games were under way in Indianapolis Saturday, April 4. The first game of the Final Four was Duke vs. Michigan State.
This game looked more like a practice for Duke as they rolled through the Spartans by 20 points, 81-61.
My good friend and fellow staff journalist, Taylor Schuster, has recapped that game with stats and insight as to how the game went.
It was my assignment to cover the Wisconsin vs. Kentucky game, aka, the matchup of the tournament.
I was beyond excited minutes before tip off, I just knew this was going to be a hard-fought game.
I was not wrong.
Back and forth, lead change after lead change, huge dunks and big plays, these guys really put on a show for everyone in Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday.
Kentucky’s size was not enough to hold onto their undefeated season as the Badgers ended the Wildcats’ season with a final score of 71-64.
I would not say the Wildcats lost this game, I would say they got beat.
Wisconsin is not a team that is going to let anyone by them without a fight.
Kentucky approached this game without studying any film, they just went at the Badgers with the same mindset as they had with all the previous 37 teams they played this year.
Wisconsin took a different approach. The second Kentucky beat Notre Dame in the Elite 8 game, the Badgers hit the film room studying all of Kentucky’s moves, looking for a weakness.
The studying paid off.
The key players on the Wisconsin team consisted of Nigel Hayes, Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker.
Kaminsky, center, led the team with 20 points and 11 rebounds and was given the Naismith Award on Sunday as the NCAA’s top player.
Dekker, guard, contributed to the win by putting up 16 points, going six for nine shooting from behind the arc.
Hayes, forward, helped out the team with 12 points, making some big baskets in the last five minutes of play.
The big-time difference makers on the Kentucky team were Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns and the Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron.
Cauley-Stein put up 15 points, Towns with 16 points, Aaron Harrison with 12 and Andrew Harrison with 13.
The Wildcats did not have enough in the tank to continue their undefeated record.
Wisconsin will now face Duke in the championship game, Monday, April 6. I have Wisconsin taking the win in this game.
The day has come where the Cinderella-story Michigan State Spartans face off with the evil but mighty step mother, the Duke Blue Devils.
No.7 Michigan State has overcome many opponents, such as their first opponent in the tournament: No. 10 Georgia.
After that match-up the Spartans did not have an easy road ahead of them.
Once the first round was over, the true test was given to Michigan State when they had to take on No. 2 Virginia.
Right after that victory, it was No. 3 Oklahoma in their way, and they found a way to pull it out.
Then they took on No. 4 Louisville, which was no easy test considering the game ended up being decided in overtime.
Now the Cinderella story has been written on how they got to face off with one of the best teams to have played in the tournament.
Duke has been a dominating factor in this year’s tournament, even though they have not faced any massive powerhouse teams.
The game tipped off and the story continued for another 40 minutes.
The Spartans put up a great fight within the first five minutes, but after that it seemed the Devils were unstoppable.
A tied game at 16 apiece, it seemed the game would have been a lot closer but the Spartans just could not handle the double-barrel shotgun shooting from Duke.
Shooting 52 percent from the field as a team, Duke was excelling on all levels.
Their hardcore man-to-man defense had the Spartans shaking in their shoes.
The Duke Blue Devils beat the Michigan State Spartans by a total of 20 points, the worst recorded loss not just by the Spartans themselves as a team but in NCAA Tournament history.
The last two times Duke has been in the tournament and competed in the city of Indianapolis, they became national champions in 1991 and 2010.
Another stat to know is that coach Tom Izzo (Michigan State) has played coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) a total of nine times but has only beaten him once.
Those stats remained consistent with the Final Four game that was played on Saturday, April 4.
The Blue Devils have moved to the National Championship Game for the 10th time in Coach K’s career where they will be facing off against a tough-nose Wisconsin on Monday, April 6.