After putting a brutal end to Kentucky’s 38-game winning streak in the Final Four three days ago, Wisconsin were confident that they would dominate the Duke and finally win the much-craved NCAA title. But to their surprise they lost the national title game 68-63 on Monday night.
After the game, Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker said that his team had it but let it slip. It seems that the Badgers’ strategy to secure their win in the last five minutes of the game didn’t work this time.
It did work, tough, against Kentucky April 4, where they rallied from a four-point deficit in the last four minutes of the game with their 15-4 run, upsetting Andrew Harrison so much that he even used the N-word on Kaminsky during a press conference.
Furthermore, it also worked against Arizona in the Elite Eight, where Wisconsin managed to dominate the second half and mark 1.62 points-per-possession against Arizona’s tight defense.
Until last night, no other team managed to take down the Badgers after they managed to seize a final-five-minute lead. But never say never. Although Sam Dekker smoothly turned a brilliant pass from Josh Gasser into a 58-56 lead with only 4:25 minutes left, that was not enough.
Forward Nigel Hayes said after the game that maybe Wisconsin was overconfident that they would win. He acknowledged that after such a good year, a loss of the national title game would be tough to deal with.
“The fact that we weren’t able to seal the deal and win it is definitely tough for us to realize,”
But being overconfident was not their only mistake that cost them the title. There are more. For instance, Dekker struggled too much in the game before marking two air-balled three pointers and shoot 6 of 15 from the field. Hayes missed a layup within the last 11 minutes that would have secured Wisconsin a six-point lead. He also missed four close-range shots.
Traevon Jackson’s performance in his last game was not that great, while Bronson Koenig missed several of his most important shots.
However, despite the bitter loss and Kaminsky being the only player that did everything he could Monday night, the Badgers still played wonderfully against the Duke, which is expected to push at least three first-round picks in the NBA draft. No other team managed to find itself up two points with four minutes left against the Blue Devils.
But the star of Wisconsin was Frank Kaminsky, who dominated his matchup with Jahlil Okafor by taking him off the dribble several times and finishing the game with 21 points and a dozen rebounds.
But after the final buzzer, Kaminsky pulled his warmup shirt over his head to hide his tears. After the game, he only said that his teammates were already his family and not just hypothetically speaking.
He also said that he had never been closer to a group of guys in his entire life so it would be very hard to wave them goodbye. He also stated that he would evaluate his future options with his family this week.
Image Source: WSJ