It all came down to two teams on a Monday night in Indianapolis, Indiana playing for the National Championship. In the end, it was Duke cutting down the nets for the fifth time in the school’s history. The Blue Devils held off Wisconsin long enough to secure a 68-63 victory. The win caps off an exciting three weeks to conclude the NCAA Men’s College Basketball season. This game lived up the hype, and some.
In what will go down as one of the greatest National Championship games played in recent history, Duke came from behind in the final minutes to surpass Wisconsin. It was an all-out youth movement which sparked Duke, 60 of their 68 points were scored by their freshmen. Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen came up big-time for Duke after foul trouble caught up with Jahil Okafor and Justise Winslow. Duke’s freshmen scored all 37 points for the team in the second half. Allen scored 16 points while Jones poured in 19 of his 23 points in the second half. Jones was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
Duke went back and forth with Wisconsin in the first half, there were 13 lead changes, with both teams headed back to the locker rooms tied at 31. However, the Badgers came out in the second half in attack mode. Wisconsin made 9 of its first 15 shots in the second half to take a 48-39 lead. Frank Kaminsky was rolling for Wisconsin while Okafor and Duke were on the brink. It seemed as if it was the beginning of the end, and that’s when the greatness of Duke head coach Mike Kryzewski once again rose to the top.
Kryzewski put the ball in the hands of his two young guards, Allen and Jones, to pick Duke up off the floor and get them back into the game. When the smoke cleared, Wisconsin made just four of their last 15 shots the rest of the game. Okafor would check back in for the final two minutes, he played great defense against Kaminsky along with a couple of big-time moves in the paint to help keep Wisconsin at arm’s length.
If there was any debate about where to rank Kryzewski all-time as a head coach, it should be put to rest now. Kryzewski, with his substitutions and adjustments, pushed all the right buttons in the second half against Wisconsin while getting the most out of a mostly freshmen group of players. He’s simply the best in his profession, there should be no debate.
Kaminsky capped off a brilliant senior season for Wisconsin with 21 points and 12 rebounds in the losing effort. Duke now joins UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Indiana as the only programs with five or more national titles.