Three weeks and 67 games in the books, and we have our 2015 men's basketball champion, as the Duke Blue Devils knocked off the Wisconsin Badgers 68-63 Monday night to capture head coach Mike Krzyzewski's fifth title as head coach in Durham.
It was a strange game in this way -- if you listed bullet points necessary for a Wisconsin win, the Badgers probably got several important ones. They got Jahlil Okafor, Duke's freshman beast of a center, into foul trouble, they got a big game out of their Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky (21 points, 12 rebounds), and they protected the basketball (five turnovers).
However, Wisconsin shot the ball poorly, especially down the stretch, getting outscored 29-15 in the final 11 minutes, and Duke got to cut down the nets. As always, there were winners and losers, so let's get to it....
4. Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen Jahlil Okafor might end up being the number one pick in the NBA Draft. I myself said that Justise Winslow might be the best player in the tournament. However, it was the other two freshmen that carried Duke on a night where their big guns were in some fairly substantial foul trouble. Jones was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player with 23 points in the final and the biggest shot of the game, a three pointer to put Duke up 66-58 with 1:24 to go. Allen, an occasional spark guy off the bench, carried Duke for a chunk of the second half when they fell behind 48-39, scoring eight straight Duke points to keep Wisconsin from running away and hiding. If Jones comes back next season, he and Allen will form one of the best backcourts in the country.
3. J.J. Watt It appears as though J.J. was able to pull himself away from his quality cabin time in Wisconsin long enough to watch the final game, and whether coincidence or not, it so happens he was next to tennis star and former Rory McIlroy squeeze Caroline Wozniacki...
— COED.com (@COED) April 7, 2015
Personally, I think the Badgers should've yanked J.J. out of the crowd when Duke started to make their run. He still has four years of basketball eligibility left, by God.
2. The NCAA It must be nice to sell merchandise with no royalty payments due the players whose images are on the gear. Quite the business model. If I worked under such structure I, like the NCAA last night, would waste little time in pimping my gear....
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanTPendergast) April 7, 2015
I got that email about 15 minutes after the post game press conference. What took so long, Dr. Emmert?
1. Coach K Five seasons ago, Coach K won his fourth title with a squad that was largely made up of upperclassmen (Singler, Scheyer, Zoubek, Nolan Smith). Last night, he did it with a team where freshmen scored 60 of the Blue Devils' 68 points. He had eight scholarship players, and one of them was the clear cut worst of the 58 Plumlees that have played at Duke. Straight up, this was Mike Krzyzewski's best coaching job of his career. (On top of all that, and I can't believe I'm saying this, I actually like this Duke team. Funny what happens when the point guard isn't a plucky, white floor slapper.)
4. Jahlil Okafor Now, Okafor is a champion, I get that. But with the tournament now over, attention will turn to the NBA Draft, in which Okafor is thought to be a top pick (if not THE top pick). However, NBA scouts cannot ignore a) how lazy and undisciplined he was on defense against Frank Kaminsky on Monday night and b) how much trouble he had with teams that had comparable size in the tournament (Utah, Gonzaga, Wisconsin). Those games should count more on a scout's ledger as those are physically the type of player he will see night in and night out on the next level.
3. This dude dressed as a Teletubby Bringing a whole new wrinkle to "sad fan cam"....
— CJ Bonnette (@bonnettecj) April 7, 2015
Hell, the internet even married this dude off to "sad Villanova piccolo player"....
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I hope they meet and fall in love pic.twitter.com/nX2646ZIfK
— Mark Haas (@markhaastv) April 7, 2015
2. Bo Ryan Hey look, officials generally suck. And in this tournament, they really sucked, so why would the title game be any different? It happens. Monday night, they were bad for both sides. So when he was asked by CBS' Tracy Wolfson after the game how his team took the loss, Bo Ryan went all in on the referees, mentioning no fewer than five times in 90 seconds how the game was called in a style that was not conducive to a Badger win. (Of course, it was perfectly conducive to building a nine point lead with 11 minutes to go.) He went on to complain some more, about officiating and one-and-done players, in the media presser. It was not a great look for Ryan, who came across as bitchy and whiny....
1. Greg Gumbel ....except to Gumbel, who right after Ryan's 90 second barrage of whine for Wolfson, said that Bo Ryan was "gracious and classy in defeat," proof that Gumbel pays no attention to interviews like this one.