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March Madness

Preview: 1 Kentucky vs 1 Wisconsin

Basketball Insiders Previews: 1 Kentucky vs 1 Wisconsin



#1 – Kentucky

Outside of Big Blue Nation and those who picked Kentucky to win it all and are still alive in their bracket challenge, everyone was rooting for Notre Dame on Saturday night. The Fighting Irish came in overmatched on paper, yet they actually led 66-64 with 1:12 remaining. However, with everything they’ve accomplished this season on the verge of being for naught, the Wildcats clamped down defensively and found a way to earn a trip to Indianapolis 68-66. Andrew Harrison made two clutch free throws with six seconds remaining, then Jerian Grant, who had been put out on an island to seemingly take on a heralded Kentucky defense on his own the prior two possessions for some reason, couldn’t get a clean look again as he tried to win it at the buzzer. Karl-Anthony Towns carried the Wildcats and helped them stay within arm’s reach of the Fighting Irish while they were clicking on all cylinders and had all of the momentum on their side. He finished with 25 points, five rebounds and four assists; if it weren’t for foul trouble limiting him to just 25 minutes, he likely would have went for 40 tonight. Notre Dame couldn’t do anything to keep him from getting point blank looks deep inside the paint. Although their goal of a national championship is just two wins away, the road is still very long and hard. The veteran-laden Badgers have been dreaming of another shot at them for a year and they looked stellar as they went through the most difficult path to the Final Four. How well are the Wildcats going to be able to defend Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky? Dekker in particular looks like a tough match up for them, especially without Alex Poythress, who is out for the year with a torn ACL but may have been their best option for defending him. If the Wildcats can keep them relatively in check, ideally by getting them in foul trouble and limiting their minutes, book them for another trip to the title game.

– Yannis Koutroupis

<h3?#1 – Wisconsin

There’s a saying in the game of basketball that great offense beats great defense. The Badgers have been on the wrong side of that belief many times, but on Saturday in the Elite Eight they once again showed off their elite level offense, eliminating the Arizona Wildcats for the second year in a row, 85-78. The Wildcats were great offensively in their own right, shooting 55 percent from the field and an extremely impressive 28-30 from the free throw line. However, the three-point shot was the difference and the Badgers were flat out scorching from beyond the arc, outscoring the Wildcats 36-6 from distance. Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker were flat out unstoppable, combining for 56 points on 17-31 shooting. It marked the second game in a row that Dekker established a new career-high in scoring. Next up is the Final Four in Indiana, where the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats await them. A lot of people are going to view this game as the true national championship, assuming that the winner will go on to win it all. That’s a pretty safe bet. If it’s going to be Wisconsin who moves on, they’re likely going to need more production from their bench than they got against Arizona. The Wildcats are a deep team capable of wearing you down when you rely too heavily on your starters, as Notre Dame will attest to. Kaminsky really struggled against the strength and physicality of Kentucky in last year’s Final Four. It will be interesting to see how he fairs against an even bigger, stronger and longer Wildcats frontline this year.

– Yannis Koutroupis

Who Wins?

Yannis Koutroupis: Kentucky wins

Cody Toppert: Kentucky wins

Dan Barto: Kentucky wins

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