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How Wisconsin Tamed Kentucky and Why Duke Should Be (Seriously) Worried in March Madness 2015

Stashed in: Basketball, Wisconsin, Grantland!, Aaron Rodgers, March Madness!

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The first point is the most important. The Kentucky players didn't need this.

It was about 40 minutes after Wisconsin had dispatched John Calipari’s undefeated battalion of mercenaries, who had maximized their future earning power as much as they were going to in the 2015 NCAA tournament, and the Badgers were going nuts in the locker room. Down the stretch, Kentucky had played like the freshmen many of them were, and Calipari had coached like the rookie he once was. I don’t believe I’ve seen three shot-clock violations — with a 35-second shot clock, no less! — in three years. On Saturday night, the Wildcats got whistled for three in as many possessions down the stretch. The players couldn’t get an open look and Calipari didn’t have a clue. This was the pivotal point in the game that led to the wild celebration in the Badgers locker room.

Dekker texts with Aaron Rodgers!

The Badgers are experts at tuning things out now. They tune out all the extraneous nonsense before the game. They took two haymakers from Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament final and won in overtime. And when it appeared that Kentucky had taken over on Saturday night, with player of the year Frank Kaminsky running on fumes, the Badgers called on junior Sam Dekker, who broke a 60-60 tie with a freeze-dried 3-pointer from the top of the circle, and then took a charge from Kentucky’s Trey Lyles at the other end.


As good as Kaminsky is — and he’s got one of the best arrays of post moves, especially that killer up-and-under, since Kevin McHale was making people look like idiots in the NBA — Dekker has been the revelation. A 6-foot-9 true athlete from Sheboygan, Dekker is one of a number of homegrown talents that Ryan has brought into the program. He’s gotten better almost by the possession since the tournament started. He lit up Arizona for 27 in the regional final, and he had the biggest moments on Saturday night. He may still be pledging the Clutch Brothers, but Dekker has become a genuine citizen of the basketball world. He’s made friends with dozens of opposing players, and he texts regularly with Aaron Rodgers. He’s a tweeting fiend. Good-hearted curiosity — there is a vast number of things that Dekker has found to be “cool” — fairly beams off him.

I am indeed rooting for the Badgers.

53% favorites!

Close!  Is that Nate Silver talking?

It's his people, yeah. He's too busy doing Rand Paul calculations right now. 

Wow, Duke really kept it together. 

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