The best possible NCAA final would be Kentucky vs. Duke

Whistling while he works: John Calipari at practice Friday. (AP photo/Michael Conroy)

Whistling while he works: John Calipari at practice Friday. (AP photo/Michael Conroy)

Whistling while he works: John Calipari at practice Friday. (AP photo/Michael Conroy)

Whistling while he works: John Calipari at practice Friday. (AP photo/Michael Conroy)

Indianapolis — Two ways of viewing Kentucky’s narrow escape against Notre Dame: That was the close game that every champion-to-be must endure, or it was a sign that the Wildcats aren’t as great as they’ve been cracked up to be. I lean toward the former, but I must say: The final two steps for the Big Blue could be treacherous.

Wisconsin doesn’t play as fast as Notre Dame — almost nobody does, and the Badgers are known for their meticulous ways — but it’s even more precise. It’s also much bigger. Georgia coach Mark Fox said this week that he believes Wisconsin has the best chance of the three remaining teams to beat the unbeaten, and Fox knows more than a bit about the ‘Cats.

Me, I actually think Kentucky — having played Wisconsin in last year’s Final Four and having just slipped past Notre Dame — is steeled for the Badgers. As West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said last week, a team playing Kentucky must get baskets in transition because the Big Blue is so stifling in the half-court.

Wisconsin doesn’t run much, but it still scored an astonishing 55 points in the second half against Arizona in the West Regional final, and Arizona ranks third — behind Kentucky and Virginia — in adjusted defense efficiency. (This according to the estimable Ken Pomeroy.) The Badgers made 66.7 percent of their second-half shots, 88.3 percent of their second-half treys.

If they do that against Kentucky, they’ll beat Kentucky, too. I just don’t see anybody making 10 of 12 treys over the Wildcats. (Notre Dame made four all game.)

To me, the bigger challenge for Kentucky would be Duke. (I’m assuming the Devils will beat Michigan State because Duke has better players and Tom Izzo is 1-8 against Mike Krzyzewski.) In Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones, Duke has three one-and-done-level talents. This is the only team in the land that can come close to matching Kentucky’s manpower.

But I could be wrong. (I thought Georgia would beat Michigan State in the round of 64, though I was kind of right about the East Regional opening up for the winner of that game.) The final could be Wisconsin versus Michigan State, and when those two met in the 2000 Final Four, the halftime score was 19-17.

Wisconsin is much less ponderous under Bo Ryan than it was under Dick Bennett, but still: Kentucky-Duke would be a final for the ages; Badgers-Spartans would be a repeat of the Big Ten championship game. (Wisconsin won in overtime.) And if memory serves, the past two Kentucky-Duke NCAA tournament meetings have been halfway decent.

Further reading: Ryan’s hope — that Wisconsin renders Kentucky 38-1.

Reader Comments 0

18 comments
5150POAD
5150POAD

SEC SEC SEC....where is the SEC?

ComaToes
ComaToes

Either Calipari is pregnant or he has an asstronomical beer belly!   One would think a coach would take better care of his profile.  Surely he does some exercising.  Needs to lay off the bottle. Based on research recently those with a lot of fat around the waste(I know) line are more subject to a heart attack.  

likeitis
likeitis

Stingshuh?.........Did you mean  Magna Cum Lucky.....just asking.

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Yes. It absolutely would be the best of all finals imagineable. Just think of it. Kentucky finally gets revenge for Christian Laettner's last second, impossible, heart braking basket from way beyond the circle way back when, by making its own last second, impossible play. 


And I am quite sure the referees have been very clearly instructed regarding which way close calls go during the two semi-final games, and at which end of the court the no calls should take place and at which end all calls are to be made, regardless, and which team gets possession and which team stands at the foul line all night. 


And, if and when it gets down to just Duke and KY, we already know which at which end of  the court the close calls and no calls will be made.  So watch the games closely. And see which teams get the Michael Jordan and LeBron James treatment in close calls on possession, traveling, making fouls, and in getting fouled. Why? Because the  NCAA and mega-college basketball business, has a major interest in seeing the Wildcats go undefeated this year. 


Yes. The Wildcats are openly operating as an NBA minor league/development league team (and others are catching on to that as well), but the undefeated winning streak has captured the imagination of America after so many dry years, and where imagination is captured, dollars, lots and lots of dollars, are sure to follow. 


Hey. Big time college basketball, like big  time college foot ball are . . . yep,  big time businesses. The NCAA and the schools enjoying the free gravy train can live in its fantasy world and scream to the high heavens about the romance, the sacrifice, the purity, the joy of sports, the love of competition, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat all they want to. 


But the coach at the end of the bench is pulling down several million a year, and many, many others are getting rich off of the players who make it all happen, and who are getting an "education" they don't really want, the aggravation of attending classes they don't care about, putting up with professors  and administrators they will be able to buy and sell a hundred times over in a couple of years, books, fees, and some chump change for spending money. 


As a start, I would be happy just to see the term "student athlete" officially abolished as it applies to these sports. Soccer, field hockey, swimming, track, etc. use it for those sports. 

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@Ficklefan Too bad, Ficklefan.  Your whole argument went down in flames with the missed shot clock call in favor of Wisconsin.  Conspiracy theorists are typically idiots.

partlycloudy
partlycloudy

It would be great to have a UK and Duke final.  And have Kentucky win.

Can't wait to watch it tonight.  Hey ESPN all that talk about college basketball not being good anymore is pure crap.

Bogan
Bogan

Mary Willingham, co-author of "Cheated", a book about the academic scandal at UNC, called out ND Athletic Director during CSpan coverage of a presentation she and co-author Jay Smith gave during a local book signing. Willingham implied that if ND revealed the transcripts of its athletes that it would show a pattern of clustering in easy courses that serve to keep ND revenue sport athletes eligible. 

MoistDawg
MoistDawg

once again bradley shows his bias the best matchup would be mich stae kensucky because mich state barely beat uga and if they win it all it will help us in recruting because we can say the only team that beat us was the national champion if kensucky wins ill probly need to grab my vomit bucket. 

read this
read this

Make sure the Ball is inflated to the right pressure and the hoop doesn't have saran wrap over it.  I love basketball....

partlycloudy
partlycloudy

UK vs. Duke.  And UK wins.  I love SEC football and ACC basketball, but Kentucky is a different league by itself.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Duke wins in a re-do of the Laettner game.

HadleyV
HadleyV

kentucky is loaded with nba type players ---- they should win the title easily. cal will reload for another title run next year

The_Real_KJ
The_Real_KJ

UK-Duke, so I can root for a stadium collapse.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

I would love to see UK-Duke - not only should it be a great game but the team with the most freshmen starters would be the one that is allegedly the "academic school".

Stingshuh?
Stingshuh?

Well as Dawg-Gawn would tell you..............I'm a "Devil" fan.......HAHAHAHHHHAAAAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!