National Sports

The NCAA National Championship Game is Set

James DiBianco

After 68 teams received their bid to the NCAA Tournament on March 15th.  Now we know who will play for the ultimate prize, the National Championship.

The first game in the Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana featured the #1 seed out of the South regional, the Duke Blue Devils taking on the #7 seed out of the East Regional, the Michigan State Spartans.  This game was entertaining in the first half as they battled back and forth as the veteran Spartans tried to upset the very young and freshman based, Duke Blue Devils.  Duke took the lead at the half, 36-25.  The Spartans had a hill to climb but Duke came out and put the pedal to the medal and was able to seal another National Championship bid as they knocked off Michigan State, 81-61.  The loss for the Spartans was the largest margin in the NCAA Tournament in school history.  Justise Winslow continues to be brilliant in the tournament as he led the Blue Devils with 19 points and 9 rebounds on 5 of 7 shooting from the field and 9 of 11 from the free throw line.  Jahlil Okafor led the way for Duke with 18 points and 6 rebounds on 7 of 11 shooting from the field and 4 of 7 from the free throw line.  Senior guard, Quin Cook added 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting from the field.  As a team, Duke shot 52% from the field, only 2 of 10 from downtown for 20% and 27-37 from the free throw line for 73%.  Denzel Valentine led the way for Michigan State with 22 points and 11 rebounds on 7 of 11 shooting from the field and 5 of 9 downtown.  Travis Trice added 16 points,shooting 6 of 13 from the field.  As a team, Michigan State shot 40% from the field (22-55), 7-20 for 35% from the 3-point line and 10-16 from the free throw line for 62%.

The second game of the Final Four featured the #1 overall seed out of the Midwest Regional, the Kentucky Wildcats facing another #1 seed out of the West Regional, the Wisconsin Badgers.  This was a rematch of last year’s Final Four matchup where Kentucky knocked off Wisconsin.  The Badgers looked for revenge.  They did just that as they started out the game on fire, playing great defense against a team with a lot of length.  Both teams went back and forth as they were tied at 36 in the first half.  Then Kentucky came out and played very well but the last 4 minutes of the game was tough as they couldn’t get anything to go into the basket.  That was when Wisconsin started to heat up. They picked up the upset and gave Kentucky their first loss of the season (38-1) to advance to the National Championship game against Duke with a 71-64 win.  The National Player of the Year, Frank Kaminsky led the way for the Badgers with 20 points on 7-11 shooting from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds.  Sam Dekker added 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the field and 2 of 3 from the 3-point line.  Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koening added 12 points each in the win.  As a team, Wisconsin shot 23-48 for 48%, 7-17 for 41% from downtown and 18-22 for 82% from the free throw line. Kentucky was led by Karl Anthony-Towns with 16 points and 9 rebounds.  Andrew Harrison added 13 points while Aaron Harrison had 12 points.  Kentucky shot 26-54 for 48% from the field, only 3-5 from downtown for 60% and 9 of 10 from the foul line for 90%.

Wisconsin and Duke will square off on Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana for the National Title.  Tipoff is at 7:18 MT on CBS.

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